Stages of language learning

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In SuperCoco, your journey from knowing no Spanish at all to being completely fluent is divided into nine stages. These stages closely mirror the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels that are based on extensive empirical study and validation.

These stages are helpful for setting goals and expectations. At each stage (except A0) you have the ability to converse in Spanish. But the type of conversation you’re capable of will change. Part of the art of language learning is knowing how to converse within your own limits. Push yourself, of course, and don’t be shy—but do so with an understanding of your own learning stage.

Total Beginner (A0)

You don’t know any Spanish—or at most a few words and phrases.

Beginner (A1)

Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Can understand and use basic phrases and sentences aimed at concrete needs.

Can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live and people you know.

This is considered the first level at which you are no longer dependent on a fixed repertoire of stock phrases.

Advanced Beginner (A2)

Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a direct exchange of information (e.g. shopping, wayfinding, transportation, personal info).

Can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.

Can handle very short social exchanges, even though can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going oneself.

You can make simple transactions in shops, post offices or banks; get simple information about travel; use public transport: buses, trains, and taxis, ask for basic information, ask and give directions, and buy tickets; ask for and provide everyday goods and services.
You can use simple everyday polite forms of greeting and address; greet people, ask how they are and react to news; handle very short social exchanges; ask and answer questions about what they do at work and in free time; make and respond to invitations; discuss what to do, where to go and make arrangements to meet; make and accept offers.

Early Intermediate (A2+)

Can participate more actively in conversation—given some assistance and certain limitations.

You can initiate, maintain and close simple, restricted face-to-face conversation on familiar topics in predictable everyday situations, without undue effort; though you will generally have to compromise the message and search for words. Participation in open discussion is fairly restricted.
You can express how you feel in simple terms; give an extended description of everyday aspects of your environment e.g. people, places, a job or study experience; describe past activities and personal experiences; describe habits and routines; describe plans and arrangements; explain what he/she likes or dislikes about something; give short, basic descriptions of events and activities; describe pets and possessions; use simple descriptive language to make brief statements about and compare objects and possessions.

Intermediate (B1)

Can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters in work, school, leisure, etc..

Can maintain interaction and convey your own intent, in a range of contexts.

Can cope flexibly with situations while traveling or in everyday life, including less routine situations.

Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

This level is most categorised by two features. The first is the ability to maintain interaction and get across what you want to, in a range of contexts, for example: generally follow the main points of extended discussion around him/her, provided speech is clearly articulated in standard dialect; give or seek personal views and opinions in an informal discussion with friends; express the main point he/she wants to make comprehensibly; exploit a wide range of simple language flexibly to express much of what he or she wants to; maintain a conversation or discussion but may sometimes be difficult to follow when trying to say exactly what he/she would like to; keep going comprehensibly, even though pausing for grammatical and lexical planning and repair is very evident, especially in longer stretches of free production.
The second feature is the ability to cope flexibly with problems in everyday life, for example cope with less routine situations on public transport; deal with most situations likely to arise when making travel arrangements through an agent or when actually travelling; enter unprepared into conversations on familiar topics; make a complaint; take some initiatives in an interview/consultation (e.g. to bring up a new subject) but is very dependent on interviewer in the interaction; ask someone to clarify or elaborate what they have just said.

Advanced Intermediate (B1+)

Can handle more complex conversation demands, including taking complex messages, explaining problems, describing symptoms to a doctor, giving detailed instructions, though your language may be imprecise and you may need to ask for repetition.

As above (B1), the same two main features continue to be present, with the addition of a focus on the exchange of quantities of information, for example: take messages communicating enquiries, explaining problems; provide concrete information required in an interview/ consultation (e.g. describe symptoms to a doctor) but does so with limited precision; explain why something is a problem; summarise and give his or her opinion about a short story, article, talk, discussion, interview, or documentary and answer further questions of detail; carry out a prepared interview, checking and confirming information, though he/she may occasionally have to ask for repetition if the other person’s response is rapid or extended; describe how to do something, giving detailed instructions; exchange accumulated factual information on familiar routine and non-routine matters within your field with some confidence.

Proficient (B2)

Can interact with with native speakers with fluency, spontaneity, and without strain for either side.

Can plan what is to be said and the means to say it, considering the effect on the recipient/s.

At the lower end of this level, there is a focus on effective argument: account for and sustain your opinions in discussion by providing relevant explanations, arguments and comments; explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options; construct a chain of reasoned argument; develop an argument giving reasons in support of or against a particular point of view; explain a problem and make it clear that your counterpart in a negotiation must make a concession; speculate about causes, consequences, hypothetical situations; take an active part in informal discussion in familiar contexts, commenting, putting point of view clearly, evaluating alternative proposals and making and responding to hypotheses.
Throughout the level there are two new focuses: The first is being able to more than hold your own in social discourse: e.g. converse naturally, fluently and effectively; understand in detail what is said to you in the standard spoken language even in a noisy environment; initiate discourse, take your turn when appropriate and end conversation when you needs to, though you may not always do this elegantly; use stock phrases (e.g. ‘That’s a difficult question to answer’) to gain time and keep the turn while formulating what to say; interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without imposing strain on either party; adjust to the changes of direction, style and emphasis normally found in conversation; sustain relationships with native speakers without unintentionally amusing or irritating them or requiring them to behave other than they would with a native speaker.
The second new focus is a new degree of language awareness: correct mistakes if they have led to misunderstandings; make a note of ‘favourite mistakes’ and consciously monitor speech for it/them; generally correct slips and errors if you become conscious of them; plan what is to be said and the means to say it, considering the effect on the recipient/s.

Advanced Proficient (B2+)

Increased ability to manage conversations, eg. give feedback on and follow up statements and inferences by other speakers and so help the development of the discussion and relate your own contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.

Can develop an argument systematically with appropriate highlighting of significant points, and relevant supporting detail.

The focus on argument, effective social discourse and on language awareness which appears at B2 continues. However, the focus on argument and social discourse can also be interpreted as a new focus on discourse skills. This new degree of discourse competence shows itself in conversational management (co-operating strategies): give feedback on and follow up statements and inferences by other speakers and so help the development of the discussion; relate own contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.
It is also apparent in relation to coherence/cohesion: use a limited number of cohesive devices to link sentences together smoothly into clear, connected discourse; use a variety of linking words efficiently to mark clearly the relationships between ideas; develop an argument systematically with appropriate highlighting of significant points, and relevant supporting detail. Finally, it is at this level that there is a development of language for negotiating: outline a case for compensation, using persuasive language and simple arguments to demand satisfaction; state clearly the limits to a concession.

Near Fluent (C1)

Can express yourself fluently and spontaneously, almost effortlessly.

Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

This level is characterized by good access to a broad range of language, which allows fluent, spontaneous communication, as illustrated by the following examples: Can express yourself fluently and spontaneously, almost effortlessly. Has a good command of a broad lexical repertoire allowing gaps to be readily overcome with circumlocutions. There is little obvious searching for expressions or avoidance strategies; only a conceptually difficult subject can hinder a natural, smooth flow of language. The discourse skills characterising the previous level continue to be evident at Level C1, with an emphasis on more fluency, for example: select a suitable phrase from a fluent repertoire of discourse functions to preface his remarks in order to get the floor, or to gain time and keep it whilst thinking; produce clear, smoothly flowing, well-structured speech, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Fluent (C2)

Can express oneself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.

Can use wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms with awareness of connotative level of meaning;

Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.

Level C2, while it has been termed 'Mastery', is not intended to imply native speaker competence. What is intended is to characterise the degree of precision, appropriateness and ease with the language which includes: the ability to convey finer shades of meaning precisely by using, with reasonable accuracy, a wide range of modification devices; has a good command of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms with awareness of connotative level of meaning; backtrack and restructure around a difficulty so smoothly the interlocutor is hardly aware of it.

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