Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

Wondering about the fluency level of the native speaker (Josep López, Quora)

7 October 2018

twitter: @eugenio_fouz



Is the C2 level of the CEFR scale equal or closer to the fluency level of the native speaker?

Josep López, I did learn English.

Answered May 14, 2015


“I suppose it’s close enough, but don’t think of a C2 level as the summit of mastery or don’t get the idea that “C2” is a goal but a vague reference. I’ve got a C2 level (and the CPE)  and I know there’s a lot more to learn to be as fluent as educated native speakers, and I know that a good dictionary will always be handy. But what I’ve also learned is how much I don’t know yet. And I’ll keep striving in order to get to what I call a “C3” level. It doesn’t exist, but in my mind it does, and it keeps me motivated.

Most of the progress I’ve made has been without living in an English-speaking country. But you have to plunge yourself into living the language just the same.

Here are a few of the many things I’ve done (and still do):

  1. Listen to the radio. My personal favourite is the BBC, you can catch up anything you miss, download podcasts, etc. Listen ACTIVELY, it’s not supposed to be like putting on some music and muddle through, you have to pay attention to everything: intonation, choice of words, puns, etc.
  2. Watching TV and films in English. This one is obvious. Don’t use subtitles, they’ll only tie you down and you won’t develop good listening skills. I’ve found out that popular series and films often scrape by, their word stock is pretty limited and repetitive in the end, so it’s not the best way to learn but it’s necessary in order to immerse yourself. Once again, the attention you pay to what’s being said is key.
  3. Reading newspapers in English. Now, even if you were a native speaker you’d be bound to hone your language skills the more you read. Newspapers are a great way to learn, especially quality ones. Writers try to be as imaginative and creative as possible so you’ll always come across new words. Try theguardian or the nytimes and you tell me.
  4. Reading books in English. Not an abridged version or graded edition. Pick up the real book and start making your way through it. At first this is going to be painful, but it does pay off. Try to make out what the words mean from the context first, you’ll end up learning a lot. The first book I read in English was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows back in 2007. It took me quite a while but the reward was invaluable. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader and I read in English more than in my native tongue. Make a habit of reading, it broadens the mind and does wonders.
  5. Speak it. Too obvious. You say you’re from Greece, so it must be relatively easy for you to find out where expats or tourists hang around. Try to strike up a conversation with them. Try to talk at every opportunity, even if you think you aren’t ready.
  6. Swot up the old-fashioned way. Yes, get books, audios, self-study materials and knuckle down. You have to study grammar, vocabulary, phrasal verbs, idioms, etc. The old-school approach on its own might require more effort but without it you won’t be able to fill in any gaps of knowledge.

Take this comprehensive approach and you’ll improve. As you advance, you’ll find your feet and feel more comfortable with yourself. Hopefully you’ll know how to keep going on your own as you go along.

Good luck.


[text written by Josep López]



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