How to know when you have mastered a language! (Guide for Language Learners)
This is a guide for all of you people out there who want to know if you REALLY have learned and mastered a language. Starting at one (likely) and going up to number five (definitely):
You can read in the language(s) and recognize almost every word, understanding everything you are reading.
You can have conversations with other speakers (preferably native speakers) and talk about almost anything you can think of. If you can discuss complicated items, like brain surgery, then that is an amazing feat and congrats!
All of your pronunciations are correct, and are potentially as good or better than that of native speakers. Even correct use of slang shows signs of mastery.
When a language is mastered, you will be able to (theoretically) publish books, newspapers, articles, etc., with one or less grammatical errors in the entire work.
You have had at least one dream in the language, and frequent dreams means that you are entirely comfortable in speaking the language to others/native speakers, and even may signify that you would be comfortable submerging yourself in the culture.
Thanks for reading! -DarkLugia5
I disagree with 2. If you mean that you'd have completely mastered the language then you could converse about pretty much everything. But even fluent learners can't converse about everything. For example, Luca Lampariello does say he's fluent in Russian but admits that on some complex subjects such as military he can't go that depth in.
But I'd say this list is pretty accurate :)
This is true for even native languages, as are most points on this list. Everyone often pronounces words incorrectly in their native language and I could not discuss specialist topics that I have no connection to, if someone started talking to me about parts of an airplane or helicopter then I wouldn't understand most of what they are saying.
Also a lot of native speakers do not pass the standards required of publication and even those that do have to have a team of people go through it and look for mistakes or things that need to be changed.
The standards for a non native speaker are a lot lower because a lot of these could not be done by natives so would be unlikely for a non native to be able to
I am native in English, and I do admit that I have not mastered it, but you can come close, and that is what counts for most languages. Language is also changing constantly, and I do understand that one cannot fully master a language. Thank you for the advice, though! ^_^
The book writing one is ridiculous. Even the greatest writers fill their books with spelling and grammar mistakes. Yet, we don't see them. Why? Because they have editors. It is a completely different skill-set, and a necessary one. It is one of the reasons self-published books are usually of a lower quality than professionally published ones (I know there are exceptions).
The talking about any subject is also highly wrong. My mother wouldn't understand a single word if I described relational databases and writing queries in SQL. and yet, she has complete mastery over English. Over day to day English. No one has complete mastery over the jargon of every specialist area.
Then, who decides which pronunciation is correct? In the UK, many regions still have "shire" as a suffix. When I was young, both England and Scotland pronounced this as shy-r (like The Shire of Lord of the Rings fame). However, these days, in Scotland, we still pronounce it as shy-r, but the English tend to pronounce it as "sheer". Is one of us wrong?
Dreams occur long before fluency. I am well aware that my level of Spanish is simply "conversational" and is far from perfect - I am fluent in French (having lived in France for a number of years), so I can compare the levels in the two. And yet, I do dream in Spanish at times despite being well short of fluency. The strange thing is that in those dreams, I do not make the mistakes that conscious hesitation makes me make in spoken Spanish - granted, my vocabulary is limited, but what I say (and what the other characters in the dreams say) is in good Spanish (up to my level, but flawless in a way I cannot achieve when conscious).
I think mastery of a language comes from when you've theoretically "capped out" what you need to learn in order to FIND OUT anything else you need to learn and are able to ask it in any way, and are able to understand any and all explanations given to you. For example, I may not know anything about sailing, but I can find out by talking to people, asking them, or looking up videos online about it. You master a language when you are fully comfortable functioning in that language 100% and are able to figure out the rest by conversing with others in that language. You can express your thoughts completely in any capacity. You can put yourself in any type of social situation and are able to function, you can read a book at any reading level and you can understand every single movie out there completely. If you have to stop and think for even half a second "what preposition do I need to use" or something, or you don't understand "what that person said" at any moment, then you're not fluent. You may not know every word or term in areas that aren't your skill (cars for example), but you would still be able to "understand them". I've been an English speaker all my life and there's still probably a lot I don't know, but I've "capped out" so to speak. I never misunderstand someone unless I can't hear them or they have a strong accent. I know how to speak it, I'm fluent in it. I think in it, I understand the concepts completely. Do you know what I mean? It's hard to define, but I think you "just know" when you're fluent in a language.
My mother tongue is English. Although I read quality newspapers every day and generally have a decent book on the go, I do not ever understand everything I am reading. I can honestly say that I fail all five. #3 is a particular problem for me. Maybe I am 'potentially as good or better than that of native speakers' but who is to say? On #2, I have yet to have a conversation on brain surgery with anyone and would not know where to start. I dream every night and enjoy dreaming but I don't speak to anyone I meet and they don't speak to me. In formal terms, I am educated with a couple of doctorates from a decent Uni but I will not achieve 1-5 in English, ever