Sorry I misunderstood the level comment for Spanish and German. Perhaps my English needs the most work of all! I'd still say I'm at an intermediate, yet sufficient level to meet my needs, and would not claim to be at an advanced level, (solid C2?) where my skills would be nearly 100% interchangeable with my native language. I am not even comfortable claiming to be a fully competent C1 (see attached self-assessment checklist and be ruthlessly honest to see where you fall, you may be pleasantly surprised or get a wakeup call). I'd say I have partial C1 skills. I didn't go from a beginning B2 skill level to full C1 in a short while, instead I've gradually realized over time that most of my skills fall more toward the C1 end of the spectrum than the B2 one, and continue to remain extremely wary of overstating my level. Although my German teacher suggested I would be able to pass the C2 exam (undoubtedly says more about the exam than my abilities), if pressed, overall in both these languages using the self-assessment checklist as a measure I can do many of the C1 tasks in production skills and the majority of the tasks in the receptive skills. If you take into account that I have not yet mastered all the skills at the C1 level as evidenced by passing the exam, then it could be argued I have only become a much stronger B2 level student approaching C1, that's fine too...the label is not as important to me as the attainment of the skills themselves. Many people overstate their abilities when it comes to languages, and I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. I have met too many people who claim to "speak Spanish", yet their skills are quite low. I'm painfully aware of how much I suck and do see the glass as half empty. The question is whether to keep expending the effort needed to fill it up. I work about 50 hours a week and typically spend at least 20 hours per week on language study. That kind of grind is really wearing at times and leaves little time for other fun things and very important people. Sorry if I'm being a grump. When trying to decide how much further to go, I ask myself what can I do in these two non-native languages: Can I write a 500-word summary of a novel with only a few errors? Yes (German). Can I hold a phone conversation to troubleshoot technical problems with my cable provider? Yes (Spanish). Can I converse with native speakers on a variety of topics with minimal circumlocution? Yes (both). Do I "get" jokes? Not always, but mostly yes, even if they aren't especially funny (I even struggle in English with this one....). On the other hand: Can I easily make puns and wordplay in the language? No. Can I write a 25-page report with almost no errors? No. Can I comfortably stand up in front of 300 people, give a 45-minute talk and respond to Q&A? No. Can I entertain a sick three year old child with made up stories, songs and rhymes? No ... I have done all of those with moderate effort in English, but do I actually need to do any of them in Spanish or German? Nope, not really. Could I, with a tremendous amount of work, get to the point where the answer would be yes to those questions? Maybe, but what would the cost be in terms of lost opportunities to do other things? If I am honest, I'd say probably too high to be worth it for me. So I have decided that advanced is not something I'm going to keep chasing right now, though I will surely keep reading, watching, listening to and speaking those languages. If that makes me lame or mediocre or cowardly or whatever, so be it. I'll be a loser who can communicate at an adequate if not outstanding level in Spanish and German, yet who would be able to have fun messing about with Russian and Turkish and who would have time for a personal life and other hobbies outside of language learning. Doesn't sound so terrible to me. Good point about low-frequency vocabulary in literary works. I read a mixture of literary works and lighter reading such as non-fiction, detective novels, young adult material, etc. without undue effort until they start listing very specific plant or bird names or machinery parts. I don't know the difference between an Aspen and a Larch in English--do I really need to know that in another language? I read the log entries on All Quiet on the Western Front in German with interest, since I'd read it in Spanish a couple of years ago and recently listened to the audiobook of it roughly around the same time as those entries were written. I knew many (definitely not all) of the words listed. To expand one's vocabulary in German, understanding word formation is really helpful (prefix, suffix, stems, compounds, etc.) Here's a site I like that might be useful to students of German: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/Wortbildung/Wortbildung.html Some posts on HTLAL were what actually got me thinking about "how much is enough and where to go from here?": a general discussion of CEFR levels (What is your estimate of the CEFR levels?)and especially the below posts (both from Luso who is Portuguese and speaks English, German, French, Spanish and Italian and studies Sanskrit and Arabic). Who knows, maybe I'm just experiencing a bit of burn out, but at the moment I second Luso's statement, "The extra effort to acquire an advanced fluency is just not worth the effort at this point." Of course he's way more advanced than I am, up there in the C2 range. Maybe I just need a vacation Post 1 from Luso "This is an important post for me, as it structures my language learning for the foreseeable future. I've learned languages for a lot of reasons: I had to; it was useful; it could become useful; it was fun; it was easy; as a way to meet people (girls, TBH); to stay agile mentally; to better my social skills; etc., etc. In the world I grew up in, being able to speak other languages (English and French typically) was a big plus. Only a minority of people in older generations did. If you knew German, you were a polyglot. Scholars knew Latin and Greek. Anything else, and you were a mythological creature. In school, language teachers were Portuguese people with diplomas. There were the typical foreign language institutions, and the idea I have is that each had a handful of native teachers (Brits, French and Germans) who had been living here for ages, and spoke Portuguese with very heavy, stereotyped accents. Some 20 years ago, the situation had changed. In the urban working environment, everyone claimed to speak English. Differentiation became difficult. Possible, but difficult. There were also more people learning languages as a hobby (that's how I started with German). Multinational companies from all countries opened subsidiaries here. Meeting someone from Japan didn't necessarily mean the ambassador. But overall, a good command of a language was still a good asset. Fast forward to 2014. Things have become black-and-white. Are you a native speaker? If yes, you're lucky. If not, it doesn't matter if you are a C2 and hold your own pretty well (I'm not complaining, just stating facts). Of course, language skills are valued. As a balance-tipper, perhaps. But they aren't a very important factor on their own anymore. How does that affect my language learning priorities? I've decided to stop investing in German and Italian and go into "maintenance" mode. Personal life permitting, I'll do the last semester of Italian, but that's it. My level in both languages is enough to envision living in native speaking countries, and that's fine by me. The extra effort to acquire an advanced fluency is just not worth the effort at this point. As I'm happy with the level and "freshness" of my other languages, this leaves Arabic and Sanskrit. Both are difficult, challenging... and rewarding. In both cases, I have a teacher (and a friend) available. The disparity of levels (a beginner of half a year with Sanskrit, a beginner of five years with Arabic) will provide me with the option to toggle between the two. It will be fun. In forum terms, this means I'll keep my Spaß and Forza TAC memberships until the end of the year but will not renew either one of them. Maybe I could join an Italian team for 2015, but I'll stick to the Super Challenge instead. Speaking of SC, I'm a lot behind schedule by now, but there's still a lot of time to go. I'm not one a "we're are all winners always" kind of person, but I think the SC is one of the few instances where that happens, if people have a modicum of honesty and perseverance. I hope this may be of help to someone in the forum. Knowing what not to invest in is important. It's up to each one of us to decide. One last note: while not starting to learn a new language in the foreseeable future, I'll keep an eye on this thread. Check it out. " [Note from me: The link to the thread is one by Chung describing a plan and resources for studying a related group of Turkic languages over a two-year period. I must admit for about 10 minutes, I was thinking, "Sign me up!", but ultimately sanity prevailed .] Post 2 from Luso: "It seems the post was useful. I'm glad. I really should leave it at that. Quit while I'm ahead, not push the envelope, that sort of thing. But there's one more thing I think I should say. When you study management, there are a few concepts that keep coming up. One such idea is that of a "sunk cost" being irrelevant. In layman terms, this means you shouldn't keep investing in something just because you already invested a lot in it in the past. This seems clear in financial terms (sometimes, not even that), but much less so emotionally. I think most of us have invested in situations (jobs, relationships, other ventures) well beyond a reasonable point, just because our past investment had already been substantial. To give an example, when I evaluated taking my last semester of Italian, I weighed in a lot of factors: extra language skills, usefulness, diploma, boasting factor (less and less, but there's always a bit), time investment, money investment, class availability (C.2.2 classes don't open every semester, and it's getting worse), colleagues (nice older people), self-esteem (whether we like it or not, it's always there), feeling of completeness... These are some possibilities. To be honest, when it comes to this kind of reasoning, I always remember Astérix en Corse (which I read as a kid), when the Corsican guy describes the electoral process to choose a clan leader: 'we all vote, then we throw the urns into the sea, and in the end the strongest man wins'. For me, sometimes it's a (more honest) version of that reasoning: I make a nice pros and cons list, then throw the list away and do what feels best."