Such a situation would be completely ridiculous, but if the person is putting the same amount of time into a language most would deem it to be a massive investment and many would agree that yes, the task is simply too herculean to accomplish in a decade or less.
Not that a few months is doable, mind you. I agree with Steve's video back in January that a year of absolutely fanatical immersion (at least 8 hours a day, no using anything but Chinese) would be enough to bring a skilled learner of other languages who already knows a number of tricks to near fluency in Chinese.
We all have the same amount of time each day.
Most of us have jobs, families, lives.
At best, we can go 3-4 hours a day and keep our foot on a language's throat.
At the end of the day, you need a number of years for the language to really sink. Even after putting in many hours each and every day.
June 30, 2012, 9:58 a.m.
But real genuine fluency...now that's another matter! :-ь
Now my joke for the day.
Fluency in any language is reachable in a matter of minutes. The only thing you have to master is to say "I do not understand" - it is all you need.
In any conversation you will answer "I do not understand". This will very soon leads to you looking quite stupid but you will sound perfectly fluent.
I am not pretending people who say they don't understand something are stupid - on the contrary - but you will look very stupid if you say you do not understand something very basic.
It depends on whether you have the time, and can arrange enough different types of activity to keep it interesting.
Of course we did not have the European Framework at that time. I passed the British Diplomatic Exam for Mandarin and I remember we had to translate newspaper editorials from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese, and write a diplomatic note, and speak of course, amongst other things. So I guess the level was around B2 at least.
I also agree the one who learns for 6 hours every day will learn more than the one who learns for 3 hours every day.
However more hours you learn every day greater is the risk of burnout ;
more hours you learn every day greater is your hope for fast fluency and false hope often leads to lost of motivation ; more hours you learn every day more the last hours will be less effective.
I think there is no advantage to learn a language too quickly because if you do not keep in touch with the language you will lose a lot.
I lived in Japan for nine years after my stay in Hong Kong. I found that my absence from Chinese did not cause me to lose it. It actually improved, possibly as a result of my learning Japanese. That is just my experience.
Since when is handwriting a requisite of a B2 level? I must admit that my Chinese handwriting skills have declined since I wrote the exam 43 years ago. I essentially never write. For that matter I rarely write in Japanese, yet in both languages I consider myself between B2 and C1, although better in Japanese than Chinese in many ways. I do not worry about what I cannot do, and focus on what I can do.
You dismiss "passing a test" but do you have any knowledge of the British Foreign Service Exam in Mandarin that I passed 43 years ago?
Yes Chinese is more difficult than Spanish. That does not mean that it is some unbearably difficult task.
Re CEF levels:
B Independent User
B1 Threshold or intermediate
B2 Vantage or upper intermediate
C Proficient User
C1 Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced
C2 Mastery or proficiency
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices
I am opposed to the idea of levels, tests, and all other artificial categories and hoops placed in the way of enjoyable language learning. I communicate in Chinese, I read, I understand, and yet I am well aware of my shortcomings. I studied for less than a year. I have listened to a lot of Chinese audio material and read books since. I have visited China perhaps a dozen times. I occasionally speak Chinese in Vancouver, but only very occasionally. I have never lived in China.
My level? Is it B2, C1, who knows? Who cares?
One day I would like to get deeper into Chinese, including classical Chinese. I will do it with the help of LingQ. Maybe I would like to spend a few months in China. But, for now, I am happy with what I have.
July 2, 2012, 11:12 p.m.
Steve, why do you reckon the Canadian Government wanted you to pass the exam in Chinese before giving you an active posting to China? Might it perhaps be that they wanted to be sure that you could actually speak Chinese to a high level, and that you were thus able to do the job required of you?
(It seems to me that a world without any testing would be a kind of 'Benny-paradise', in which any fruitcake could simply declare himself to be a virtual native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese!! :-0)
It does not take long to figure out if a person can communicate in a language. The tests are largely a waste of time, although an important part of the present distorted system. I have no use for them.
July 3, 2012, 7:07 p.m.
I would also be inclined to trust Steve's subjective impressions to a very considerable degree. However, I think there are some "blaggers" and "fast-talkers" out there, whom Steve might find quite hard to pin down exactly...
Formal testing is also about proving a point in a concrete way. You might say that it wouldn't take anyone very long to figure out that a professional Olympic athlete can run 200m faster than Steve - but if Steve refused point-blank to accept the fact, then the best way to demonstrate and prove the point might well be to hold the race! ¦:-