About LLS:

Throughout my career, I have received thousands of questions regarding languages and I have finally decided to answer them objectively with no strings attached. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave your comments below.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Is it worth becoming proficient in a foreign language while living in your home country?

Today's debate is whether it is worth to learn a foreign language proficiently while living in a country where the language isn't spoken. Don't get me wrong, trying to improve your level is never a bad idea, but I was thinking rather in terms of becoming as adept at speaking as a native speaker. The proficiency level is described as C1, C2 and above according to the EU-Assessment grid which is displayed below.

Become familiar with this table!

The issue arises when I start to compare the results to the time spent gaining them. Usually, when a person begins to learn a language, it’s easier to progress from total beginner into intermediate. The reasons are quite obvious; since we don't know anything our brains tend to soak in information much faster. In most parts, the information in question is very basic making it extremely easy to just remember single words and structures rather than complex arrangements of grammar. Hence, students beginning always learn faster than those who are already advanced. If you are able to keep up a conversation, those small mistakes that one makes are usually the hardest to get rid of.

The better you want to be, the longer it takes!
As a person interested in languages, I have found that students are able to learn on their own up to B1-B2. Afterwards it becomes extremely difficult to advance on your own without having native speakers surrounding you. Even if you have somehow managed to take the C1 test and passed it successfully, I doubt that your level in speech is equal to that of a native speaker. Anyone can memorize grammar and take their time to answer questions. Furthermore, non-native speakers usually conduct the spoken part of the exams which makes it even less accurate and objective.

- " Spend this time on new languages because it's simply not worth it unless you are abroad! "

If you happen to be one of those students who are endlessly stuck at B1-B2, don't give up! It would be more advisable for you to save that money up and plan a trip to wherever in order to go over that plateau. 
Therefore, I have concluded that it is better to develop your language skills up to B2 on your own than to struggle stuck and frustrated. I think that B1-B2 level is the most accurate level in order to go abroad to develop your skills further. If on the other hand you are unable to travel due to a confined lifestyle, it isn't a bad idea to continue studying, but keep in mind that your progress will take years and years.

I personally tend to study a language from A1 until B1-B2 and then I leave it behind me to begin another one. This is a method that many hyper polyglots use in order to have such a broad knowledge in the field, and if I somehow have the opportunity to go abroad to take advantage of this language once again, I just have to brush up my knowledge before heading on to the airport. Nothing will ever beat the exposure one will have when going abroad!


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LanguageLearningShortcuts! by Peter Masalski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://languagelearningshortcuts.blogspot.com/.
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