German: from B2 to C2

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Hello everyone!

I am a native Russian speaker and have been learning German for more than 10 years (am about a weak B2 now) but for the past year I haven't really been studying much anymore, unfortunately.

Becoming fluent and comfortable while speaking German is in my top 3 priorities that I have become very focused on achieving. I've actually given myself a time-limit of 2 years to reach my goal.

How should I learn to get from weak B2 level (I'd say, strong B1 :))) in German to C1 and C2? I am also wondering, if you have time-limits as part of your goals, and if you think they help or hinder.

I am not satisfied with my current progress at all, and I am curious to hear people's different approaches :) Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

September 3, 2016


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Hey ! This is the "method" I used with English, but I'm going to assume it could work just fine with any other language. It's pretty simple : live some part of your day in the language you want to learn. I only truly began to improve my English when I managed to detach myself from mere schoolwork and used it in everyday life. I watched my shows in English, read my books in English, moved to the English-speaking parts of the internet... If you interact with native speakers everyday, it's bound to have some effect on you.

September 3, 2016
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Thank you very much! Ohh, I am too shy to get the habit of speaking German daily I guess. I am just too afraid of making a mistake that I somehow block myself, and I start speaking English once again :) That's my biggest problem.

I totally understand where you're coming from. I admit I used to be super self-conscious about my English (be it my accent or the mistakes I probably made), and there is no miracle cure. But everything on the internet is mostly anonymous, so it's not like people are going to show up and make fun of you irl. And even so, I've found that native speakers are usually really supportive and pleased to see you learning their language :)

Would you mind going into detail what you did on the internet? Did you use chatrooms? IM? forums? What else did you find useful and interact daily? Thanks.

Sure. I joined some networks relative to my interests (Deviantart mainly, also tried LiveJournal), I looked for some Youtube channels in English, I began to watch shows without subtitles (that one was more because of a lack of patience than anything. French subs took a day to come out), switched to English for manga and comics scans and read books (the seventh Harry Potter arrived around that time), fanfictions and webcomics.

To sum it up, I took interests I already had and partook in English instead of my native French.

That's very smart. I'm learning french right now, and it's hard to find resources. Like you said, the English version often comes first and more resources on any given topic.

How's your speaking skill? What resources did you use for your speaking skill? Do you speak as well as you write?

I'm desperately looking for french subs though. If you know any sites for that, please let me know. I'm watching the show Arrow in french and can only understand 1/100th of what's going on :-(

(Replying here since the thread below ran out of space)

Do you have a Netflix account ? They've got lots of different language options. I've found that switching your account's language to the one you're looking for gives you even more options. I usually do that when I want to watch something in German.

That's not surprising, English is probably one of the easiest languages to come by on the internet. If it's only subs you want, I think you can find some on many subtitles downloading websites. They won't be exactly the same since most of them are fan-made, but there are streaming services which allow you to upload your own subs so that might help.

My speaking skills are adequate, probably undermined by my writing since I can't hone them that much. Also, like most French people, I've got a pretty strong accent. I've had English-speaking canadian roommates last year and I could joke with them no problem, so I guess I'm probably doing fine.

I don't use anything to practice speaking though. I used to have those oral exams every two weeks, but that was nearly five years ago and I apparently had a better accent back then. What I'm doing - and it's probably more of a mark of improvement than a conscient exercice - is thinking in English. It happens naturally, especially when I've spent a good part of my day on my computer, and I certainly don't try to stop it.

Unfortunately, Netflix in the US doesn't work that way. It blocks almost all content from France. There are only a handful, boring shows that have both french audio and subtitles, which don't match each other. Audio say "bonjour"; the subtitle says "salut."

I guess I need to learn how to use those subtitle downloading sites.

Thanks again for your answer. Glad to see people succeed in learning another language without relocation.

Netflix does have many tv shows in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. So far, the audio and subtitles have nearly always matched most of the time. I haven't really found French tv shows on Netflix that I like all that much. Les Revenants appears to be popular, but it's not for me.

TV Monde 5 also has lots of content but I'm not sure if it would be to your liking. I sometimes enjoy watching a show in French that's all about radishes or a similar topic. Many people would probably rather watch grass grow, but I find it entertaining.

Yeah, everything has Spanish in the US. I'm learning the wrong language :-)

I like the first season of Les Revenants. It's great, and then it becomes ridiculous.

I like shows & movies where they last at least an hour. I don't want to look for new videos every minute. Are there hour-long videos on TV Monde 5? Thanks.

They do have hour long shows on TV Monde 5 (often movies). Mostly, I've just watched news programs, but some other random stuff too. There are a fair amount of documentaries as well as dumb cooking shows that seem to be everywhere.

Can I ask what are these B1/B2 and C1/C2 levels you mention? I've never heard of them so I'm curious what they mean. :)

It's great that you are making the determination to put speaking German in your top priorities! I do think time limits are a good thing, personally. To me, an achievable goal is only realistic when you do apply a time limit to it. To say, "I want to achieve this by THIS time!", and then putting together the plan of HOW you will achieve it, is actually a very responsible thing to do.

2 years seems like a good goal to strive for. My tip would be to create smaller goals to reach within those 2 years. These could be, "have this many conversations in German with someone", "read this many books in German", "watch this many movies", etc. I am sure that at 10 years of studying, you have a wonderful foundation with German, and you can accomplish a lot. :) In all cases, I would say it's best to push yourself greatly out of your comfort zone. Do things that intimidate you. You might struggle with them at first, but the growth you could gain would be even greater. Do not worry what other people think. You are learning, and that is an admirable, wonderful thing. :) People will appreciate your efforts greatly if they see how genuinely you try.

This page explains the levels.

Oh, how interesting! Thank you!! :)

ahhhh, I've been seeing those c1, b2 stuff around as well and often wondered!

great so by the description my german is probably a2 or b1 (since my writing in german is much much worse than my comprehension) XD

I am glad I am trying to learn German in 2016 because I don't know how people who couldn't afford to travel to other countries or were surrounded by the language they wanted to speak learned said language 10+ years ago. In today's globalized and technological world there is so many good sources on the Internet where you can basically immerse yourself (I say that relatively) without traveling to the country. Sites like these give us the opportunity to engage with native speakers without even traveling to the country of the language we want to learn. It's amazing when you think about it really. I know I listen to German music and news daily. I haven't tried movies yet because I know I am not ready. I am barely ready for the news and music I listen to. But if you are interested in news, I suggest Deutsche Welle (per suggestion of another user on the German forum). If you listen to podcasts Deutsche Aktuell (which I think is owned by Deutsche Welle) has a podcast called "Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten" for people like you and I who are learning German. As the name indicates, they read slowly and use unsophisticated language unlike your normal news sources like Der Spiegel. They also provide a text for you to follow along. I know that training my ear to hear German is something I really need to work on so this helps me plus I find good music in the process. Furthermore, this is the best I can do until I'm done with school and have my debt paid off to where I can actually travel to Germany and experience the country and its people as well as use the language. Viel Glück!

Lots and lots and lots of TV. You need to surround yourself in the language. Also read as much as you can.

I don't think C2 is reachable without living in a country with that language for some time, so if you want C2 in 2 years then you should move to a German speaking country immediately ;) C2 level is when you're indistinguishable from a native, right? So you have to be familiar with colloquialisms, informal abbreviations, slang etc. When it comes to time limits, if you feel they will motivate you then go for it but personally I think if you really want to know a language you don't stop learning it. Ever. So time limits don't mean much :) But for me German is a magical language that I learn and learn and learn and it just won't stick so maybe you shouldn't listen to me :D Especially that you probably speak far better German than I do ;)

well I have the freeview satellite channels, you can get german ones (if you are in europe I think?) and I used to watch all my tv shows in german then. ...House (the doctor one with hugh laurie) was more difficult since in english I can recognise or guess what the medical babble is... But apart from that :D it was very good for my comprehension.

Best thing is to have conversations though. no matter your shyness or mistakes you make (i go very very red XD ) it makes you think in the language and actually practise it in a useful way? Reading in the target language can be very good as well.

I did A1 to passing the C2 exam in about 8 months just by going to germany and taking courses there. it helps to be immersed

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