I’m back in LA for the summer and looking for some Portuguese speaking opportunities. While I did quite a bit of writing and conversation this spring, I feel like I’ve plateaued again. Looking at the CEFR scale of language aptitude, I feel pretty solidly in the B2 camp:
- 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.
But I also feel I have been at this level for well over a year now. Yes, yes: patience, grasshopper. I have no illusions of ever getting to C2 without living in Brazil, but I would really love to be at C1:
- Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
- Can express ideas 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.
The common wisdom at this point seems to be, watch movies – listen to music – converse as much as possible. And I’m doing all of this. My plans for this summer include going to more Portuguese meetups, and getting the most out of Verbling.
Yet reading an entire novel is still a slog. Listening to fast speech I get the gist but lose the details. Speaking I can get my point across fine but I yearn for a richer, more relaxed expression. I can write in an academic mode but I fear I use too many structures that parallel my writing style in English, and perhaps sound awkward in Portuguese. I’m not sure if there’s a way beyond this impasse that doesn’t involve moving to Brazil, but if there are any tutors out there that want to give it a shot with a dedicated student, you’ll get a fantastic writeup (and money of course).