At what CEFR level can you live your life exactly you can in your L1?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Big_Dog, May 18, 2014.

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For your L2, what CEFR level is needed to live your life exactly as you can in your L1?

  1. B1

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. B2

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  3. C1

    3 vote(s)
    27.3%
  4. C2

    7 vote(s)
    63.6%
  1. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Here's a quote from Benny Lewis's book Fluent in 3 Months:

    I have no problem with him using B2 as “fluency”; there are so many definitions of that word out there that to me it’s meaningless. The problem is that he claims at B2 he can live his life exactly as he would in English. Imo, this is clearly false.

    In my thread about CEFR, I posted the following table.

    polydog cefr table 2.jpg
    I believe that at B2 he will not be able to understand movies, TV, radio or people talking amongst each other. He might be able to understand 50-75% of the content, but that’s not enough to claim to be living his life like he does in English. In fact, I would not consider myself as having acquired these skills at only 75% - it takes me 90%+ to really feel like I know what’s going on. He will also be severely handicapped in reading at the B2 level, but to be fair he wants to limit this to conversation, so I will limit my argument to listening.

    I suppose he could change his definition to “having one-on-one conversations in this language exactly as I would in English”, but that’s a far call from “living my life in this language exactly as I would in English”.

    I know that he ultimately wants to support his theory that one can reach fluency in 3 months if they work hard enough. If fluency is B2, I disagree with this theory, or at least think it would be limited to very special cases. But saying he will be able to live his life like he does in English after 3 months makes it much harder. Imo, that sounds like a minimum level of C1. What do you guys think?
    luke likes this.
  2. tastyonions

    tastyonions Member VIP member

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    I agree with you. I don't personally know anyone whose daily life doesn't involve some kind of media consumption and to get a full, "natural" experience of most native media, i.e. without constantly pausing and rewinding or checking a dictionary in order to reach full understanding, I think you need at least a solid C1 in comprehension. In addition, someone at B2 will probably still have problems in those social situations where people don't make any allowances for the fact that he or she is not a native speaker.

    Saying that you can live your life "exactly as in your native language" is a very strong claim. To me what that implies is that even in the very difficult, complex, or emotional situations life can sometimes throw at you, you would never think that things would be easier for you to deal with if everyone involved could speak your native language. I think it is quite rare for anyone other than really long-term immigrants to reach this level, and even some of them do not...
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  3. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    You make a good point. I sort of ignored the exactly in my response. That would take C2, or more accurately, native level. Personally, I'm happy with C1; it allows me to do almost everything without having to strive for C2.
  4. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    Even C2 isn't enough. A few years ago, I was so deeply involved in Spanish (while living in Edinburgh) that I could pass myself off as a native speaker among actual natives. I could even joke in Spanish, and telling jokes in an L2 is never easy. I had already taken university exams that claimed B2/C1 level (yes, I know that's vague but that's what they rated it at). But no way on Earth I could live my life in Spanish the same as I could in English.

    If there's one thing that Benny's an expert in, it's moving the goalposts after the fact to protect his ego. He's so deeply invested in the idea that he can become fluent in any language in 3 months that he has to redefine fluency for each language he attempts. In the end, it becomes a circular definition: fluency is whatever Benny can manage to achieve in 90 days....
  5. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    rofl
    I was so intrigued by the amazon "look inside" of his book, I broke down and bought it. Do you remember all that talk about how he didn't really mean that you can become fluent in 3 months, and that it was more like a goal, so stop pestering him about the name of his blog? Well I was surprised to see that he's sort of coming out of the closet and clearly claiming you can be fluent (B2) in 3 months. I'm only 60 pages into it so far, but I wonder if later on he'll claim this is possible for any language.
  6. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    hmm you've got me thinking about this now. Here's the definition that I found for C1.

    and just to be clear let's look at this

    You can be a native and not be able to do all this stuff??
  7. tastyonions

    tastyonions Member VIP member

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    CEFR levels have no direct relationship to "native-likeness." They were not designed to measure it anyway. They are oriented toward testing people for academic or business purposes ("Can this person handle the type of language used in university courses? Can this person handle the communication demands of a professional environment?"). But there are certainly natives who lack academic or "white-collar" business experience and would not do very well on certain parts of a high-level CEFR exam.
  8. Cainntear

    Cainntear Active Member VIP member

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    Not only that, but he eventually had to admit that the Language Hacking Guide was about as much use as a chocolate teapot, so he justified himself by saying you can't teach that sort of stuff in a book and launched the "Speaking From Day One" video series to really show what he was doing.

    There are so many layers of hypocrisy in releasing this latest book, it's unbelievable.

    I started writing a review of the Language Hacking Guide years ago, but couldn't be *rsed with Benny's whining, so never finished it. That book was a massive exercise in hand-wavery, and on the one occasion where it gave genuine advice, it was completely and utterly wrong.

    I find it hard to believe you'll find anything of value in his latest offering, but let me know if you do....
  9. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    I've already found material to start 2 threads, and I've barely scratched the surface. Valuable, but perhaps not for the reasons he intended.
  10. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    Please do.
  11. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    I meant I've already started 2 threads using his book. More to come. :)
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  12. Fuenf_Katzen

    Fuenf_Katzen New Member

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    Living your life exactly is an incredibly high level, and I agree that it would need to be beyond B2 to go into that territory. Though in all fairness, I have the impression that a lot of people who may pass a B2 exam are actually reaching into C1 territory even if they don't consistently stay there--certainly not the same as someone who has just reached B2. However, when I was at that level all around, I can say I really didn't have issues with comprehending native media. I certainly didn't pause and rewind, and I was pretty consistent at getting 4 out of every 5 words. I have no idea what my "real" level would be, because I've never tested for it, but I suppose its possible my estimates were off. I still wouldn't say I can read "exactly" what I would in English; reading a judge's opinion would probably give me a headache, and I certainly wouldn't attempt to draft a custody agreement yet (to be fair, reading opinions still takes awhile and I usually get every agreement or draft proofread several times over--I'm still only three years out of law school after all).
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  13. Iversen

    Iversen Member VIP member

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    If I had to live exactly in another country as I do in Denmark I would need to acquire an immense load of cultural knowledge. This could to a large extent be formulated in the local language, but it would still not be enough just to know the words. Right now I don't intend to emigrate from Denmark, so for the time being I'm satisfied if I can have conversations about the same topics which I would have had if I had used English or French, and that's not the same thing as being native-like - let's say B2 or (in a pinch) B1. But to live my life exactly as I would have done as a regular citizen in a given place even C2 wouldn't be enough. I would have to become another person.
  14. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum Fuenf_Katzen!
    I get the feeling Benny is talking about someone just reaching B2, and only in conversation. What's more, all of Benny's experience at that level is with european languages. Do you think if you had just reached B2 in Polish, you would understand group conversations, movies, TV and radio well?
  15. Stelle

    Stelle Active Member VIP member

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    I think that B2 is a high enough level that I could live in the language, and continue improving by using it. I could probably move to a country where they spoke the language, and make a life there.

    The problematic word is "exactly". I can be persuasive in my language. I can have an intelligent conversation after watching a documentary. I can understand stand-up comedy. I can state my opinion, even if I'm upset or emotionally riled-up. None of these are fully possible at a B2 level.

    It would be possible to socialize, make friends, enjoy music and tv (although I wouldn't understand everything), read popular novels, and so on at a B2 level. If that's all I do in my own language, then sure - I could live my life exactly as I can in my L1. But it's *not* all I do in my first language, not by a long shot! For me to live *exactly* as I do in my native language, I think that I'd need a C2 - or at least a very solid C1.

    Take away the words "exactly as I would in English", and it works for me:

    "For me, B2 fluency – at least in a conversational, social context, - implies that I can live my life in this language." Sure, no problem with this statement.
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