IWTYAL 66: What does it feel like at different language levels?

itunesButtonAndy asks: “What does it feel like to speak at different levels of a language?”

In this episode:

What it feels like at different stages of a language:

  • A1: Very basic, self-introductions
  • A2: Greater awareness, but communication is difficult
  • B1: Can hold a conversation, but range of expression is restricted and limited to the concrete
  • B2: Can hold conversations comfortably on a variety of topics, including abstract and less common ones
  • C1: Conversation is easy, mistakes are fewer, and you fit in naturally in social situations
  • C2: A strong command of the language in almost all situations, including academic

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

Start speaking today

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This article was written by Olly Richards.

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Olly's Top Resources For Learning:
  • Anca

    Next time I inadvertently tell people that I’m at pub-level….eer…B2 level in a language I’ll know who’s to “blame”. :)) Very helpful descriptions.

    • Thanks!! Pub level… that’s all I care about! 🙂

  • robert fish

    The gap between A-level and B-level is huge.I remember how A-level is textbook mode and B-level becomes interaction with people but if you pursue your language,its well worth the effort

    • It’s big, yes! I feel the gap between B1 to B2 is even bigger.

      • robert fish

        I still remember when i studied french and i hit B1 and the feeling of “how am i going to get to B2 !!!” ,it really seems impossible to accomplish until you overcome it and then its a huge feeling of relief.Good luck Olly on your learning .Here is some inspiration to all us language lovers : “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”

      • Odette C.

        I’m B1 now and trying to get to B2 in my target language and it definitely feels the hardest! During language exchanges, it’s difficult to increase the difficulty of the conversation or use more complex grammars when you can fall back on more simple ways of speaking and still successfully (for the most part) converse. Even if I pick a topic beforehand, it’s hard to stay on topic and not drift back to mundane conversation, because there’s only so much you can say on something, unless I pretty much write a script for my whole side of the conversation beforehand.

  • dandiprat

    Thanks for helping me out.

    I always struggle with evaluating my abilities according to the CEFRL system. This is actually something that I obsess about way too much, but unfortunately since I’m not studying European languages there’s no such test that I would consider to be reliable. I do not find the descriptions of the system elsewhere to be very clear (just what constitutes an everyday topic of conversation, how detailed does one have to get about giving personal information, do you have to have mastered every conceivable situation that could occur in one’s profession. If it sounds to you like I’m overthinking this I totally agree!), although you seem to have a very clear idea of what each one means. The problem is that there are just so many different topics to master in a language and no matter what I seem to do there’s always something even in every day life that can throw me for a loop.
    I personally find my perception of vagueness in the CEFRL levels to be a source of motivation. I can never really feel secure about my abilities so I have to work extra hard to prove in triplicate that I have met a certain level.
    In recent years my focus has tended to be on listening because this is the hardest for me to pick up (and do well on tests) and always lags behind my other skills, although I do try to do an iTalki lesson at least every other week if not more to improve speaking. When iTalki lessons are not enough and I have time I try HelloTalk, too.

    • The way I always approach this question is never to worry about being able to understand everything in a language. I focus on talking abut the topics I want to talk about, and try to be satisfied with that (for a while). It’s really important to recognise what you’ve achieved, as well as what you haven’t yet learnt.

  • Arik Stuvek

    this is a question that I have dealing with quite some time and I’m really glad I listened to your podcast about different language levels . Here’s my start of my Nihongo journey which I’ll explain:

    At the age of 16, I started taking private Japanese Language Lessons as part of my birthday. At first I took it as a hobby in high school then later once I entered my institution everything went into overdrive. After my first trip to Japan for three weeks after 3 years at the time I was concerned if natives would understand my Japanese etc. turned out not being the case, I actually cried when I left the first time because it felt like a accomplishment I made, then afterwards a friend of mine gave me a series of textbooks that would jump start my Japanese. Studying the textbooks my friend suggested to me has definitely increased my level. The proof of this was shown when went to Japan the second time last summer, I even got considerable amount of praise from ability in Japanese. As you point out in your B2 level, I have reached a point where I can go to a bar or restaurant and have a normal conversation (even in a taxi). Some Japanese people said that I’m fluent, very good etc. (however as well you may know Japanese usually say that) so overall I’m very proud of my Japanese even at my 5th year of study.

    Anyways, the question I wanted to ask was regarding your earlier post about proficiency versus fluency. So, when learning Japanese should I think of my end goal to be fluent or proficient? Reason I ask is because like you said in your earlier post, its a very controversial topic.

    • What a great story – and congratulations on your achievements! Regarding goals, it’s very hard to say. What do you want to do with your Japanese? Work in Japan? Use it professionally? For me, it’s enough for my Japanese to be at a good conversational level (at least for now), so I don’t need any higher aims. But for you… only you can answer! 🙂