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Did anyone get really good at a second language as an adult?

(13 Posts)
margaritasbythesea Wed 21-Mar-18 11:13:43

And if so, how?

I have been living in second country for 18 months though I did know the language to B1 level before. I have learned a lot and write, listen, talk and read in the language every day. I know I have improved and am at about C1 level but I am very frustrated.

I am here on my own with kids (long story) and I can´t afford individual classes or attend group classes when they are on (as I am with my children then).

I can watch TV programmes but with subtitles (in the language). I get on fine.

I can listen to the radio and understand some, expecially things that repeat like weather forecasts.

I have a pretty good vocabulary. Fro example, I know three different words for pavement and five for prisoner and two verbs which mean ´attack´, to give you an idea.

But there still seems so much to learn and I don´t know how to get better faster.

I have three months to go here and if I can´t watch a damn TV programme without subtitles by the end of it I will be so disappointed!

berwickswan Wed 21-Mar-18 11:21:47

No parks/playgrounds around? i learned most of mine by talking with other mums...

Lifeaback Wed 21-Mar-18 11:30:57

When I was 18 I lived in Spain and became fluent in Spanish, because the host family knew very little English so I was totally immersed in Spanish. I think the only way to become totally fluent is through speaking it every day and practicing all the vocab you've learnt previously in conversation. Don't be disheartened though, you sound like you're already more than half way there!

thatmustbenigelwiththebrie Wed 21-Mar-18 11:48:59

I did when I moved to France but I had no contact with any other English speakers and worked and lived in a fully French environment so that definitely helped. I also got a French OH.

margaritasbythesea Wed 21-Mar-18 13:09:13

Thanks. I think part of the problem is that I am with my English/speaking children on my own and they don't like to speak the second language with me (enough at school!).

I have started listening to the radio over headphones in the street and while cooking etc. I think it is helping. I understand most stuff written down (apart from very rhetorical things like opinion columns in newspapers) it is making out the spoken word that is hardest for me becasue of the spead. I am partiall deaf too, which doesn´t help, even with a hearing aid.

lekkerkroketje Wed 21-Mar-18 13:09:20

It took me about 2.5 years and I didn't actually realise I was more or less fluent until I moved to the next country after 4 years. Coming back was so relaxing, like going back to an English speaking country. I'm not sure what level I am - I can deal with lawyers and doctors and teach, but my writing is sloppy because I'm too lazy to be perfectionist. Unfortunately, my EASL friends all say they always feel clumsy and never properly fluent even if they've done degrees in literature in English. I think it's one of those things where the better you get, the more limitations and mistakes you see in your own language.

HungerOfThePine Wed 21-Mar-18 13:31:30

Could you listen to audio books ?
I've started that recently with Spanish and it's quite enjoyable.
Also have you looked into italki?
It's a language forum and exchange site
You can get formal tutoring on it or free language exchange.

brownelephant Wed 21-Mar-18 13:34:24

you are doing well smile honestly
c1 is brilliant progress

Hakarl Wed 21-Mar-18 13:37:45

Yes. I'm not 100% perfect but I am fluent after living here for 7 years and learning the language for 10 years.

To me it honestly sounds like you are doing a brilliant job and all the right things. Just keep on, it does take time. 18 months is not that long really.
And whatever you do don't try to persuade your kids to speak the community language with you - their native language is really important!

ClaudiaWankleman Wed 21-Mar-18 13:38:22

I learnt a lot of my everyday informal language from getting drunk with friends and joining in conversations when they were well lubricated. The vocab stayed with me even if I didn’t remember much of the night!

You say you are C1 level - are you sure you haven’t peaked/ plateaued in your mind? Language fluency perception definitely works in steps rather than slopes. Three months down the line and it may suddenly hit you how far you have progressed compared to how you feel currently, but you probably won’t have noticed the change happening gradually.

I moved to another country with around AS level language and barely anyone understood me beyond very simple sentences (tonal language sad ). Four months later I had a conversation with a market seller about what I was planning to cook with the vegetables I was buying from her. As I walked away I felt so wonderful knowing how much I had progressed.

LittlePear91 Wed 21-Mar-18 13:43:42

Read a newspaper in the local language? That's always how I brush up on my Spanish! You'll see different sayings in context and pick up every-day phrases too, as well as expanding your vocab and keeping up with current affairs!

JoJoSM2 Wed 21-Mar-18 17:50:09

I think B1 to C1 in 18 months in very good going. I bet you're a lot more fluent at speaking and more comfortable with colloquial language than someone who learn the language to C1 abroad. I'd say just keep at it and be patient - it takes years and a lot of work to be that C2+.

margaritasbythesea Wed 21-Mar-18 20:55:18

I should say I am working on C1 - I havent´done the exam yet.

Ok so it may be that I am being impatient but my God! What a difficult thing it is to learn another language to fluency.

I always have the kids speak to me in English. I do run notes I have to write for school past them though!

Thanks for all the ideas and the reassurance that things are going ok.

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