How do you know when you're approaching an advanced level in the language you're learning? What separates an intermediate level student from an advanced one?
May 23, 2018 3:56 AM
Comments · 12
That's a far more complicated question than it seems. :-) Your level is not necessarily the same for all four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Some people have near-native passive skills (reading and listening), but their active skills (writing and speaking) lag far behind. What's their level? And then, some people are quite fluent, but only for limited purposes (so, if you talk to them about how their day went, they sound fantastic, but if you try discussing a more abstract topic, they're completely and utterly lost because, well, their vocabulary size is comparable to that of a 10-year-old). On the other hand, there are people who don't sound anywhere near as fluent, but who actually can discuss highly complex topics, albeit with hesitation and errors. Some people speak quite well, but their writing is abysmal, and then there are people who can produce a lengthy essay with few mistakes, but who don't sound even remotely fluent when you talk to them. And so on! 
May 23, 2018

When I started studying Spanish in 2014, I wrote down a list. I won't call them "goals" because I don't expect to achieve them, and I won't try to draw a line between "intermediate" and "advanced."

1) Reach a level where I could function effectively as a tourist in a Spanish-speaking area where English is not spoken.

2) Have a real conversation, understanding and being understood, with a sympathetic listener willing to speak slowly, listen patiently, and ignore accents and errors.

3) Read simple factual content, such as newspaper stories and articles in the Spanish Wikipedia, and understand most of the content with only a few references to a dictionary.

4) Struggle slowly with novels that use a wider vocabulary, more verb tenses and moods, and "literary" language (e.g. Carlos Ruiz Zafon's "El Sombra del Viento") but succeed in understanding them.

5) Understand the gist of "The News in Slow Spanish" just by listening.

6) Understand a movie, listening to a Spanish sound track and watching Spanish subtitles.

7) Understand a movie, listening to the Spanish sound track only.

8) Understand rapidly-spoken colloquial Spanish, such as talk shows on Univision.

9) Write an iTalk "notebook entry" and have it come back with no corrections at all.

10) Understand the words of Spanish song lyrics. 

11) Read novels written in Spanish for pleasure.

12) Understand the meanings and feelings of Spanish song lyrics.

13) Carry on a conversation easily and fluently in Spanish, including abstract ideas and hypothetical situations, with the listener conscious of nothing more than a "charming" accent and occasional strange word choices.

I've tested as "high intermediate" level, and I'd say I've achieved 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 11 (but only children's material). I've read 28% of "La sombra del viento."  I've improved on #13 but haven't achieved it. I still struggle with "rr."

May 23, 2018

This is really difficult to answer and I've definitely asked myself the same question before!

The first thing that came to mind for me was being able to enjoy content. I've noticed that when I'm reading or listening to things in languages I'm fluent/an advanced speaker in, I can enjoy the content. There's a movie playing in my head when I'm reading, stories can make me laugh, movies can make me cry.

When I'm reading or watching content in a language I'm learning/am an intermediate speaker in, I'm so distracted by trying to understand and keeping up with the language that the whole experience becomes rather emotionless. It doesn't feel like I'm consuming content for my enjoyment, it's always a chore, something I need to work hard for.

Maybe someone can relate. :P

May 23, 2018
Probably when you not only understand all the words and ideas of the person speaking, but also when you can speak freely without needing prompts. And you can speak about many different everyday topics and not just your favourite topics - you have (enough) vocabulary for all things. Not perfection, but becoming more fluid and being "in" the conversation and not having to think about which words or grammar; you just speak.
May 23, 2018
Many of them usually complain about their disability/hesitation to speak the language and comprehend it. So, I think advanced students don't have such problems.
May 23, 2018
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