Suggestion: language levels

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Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
Good morning ladies & gentlemen, I like Tatoeba very much and there you can choose your level of language proficiency in your profile. I think it would help us here, too, and the problem about non-native responders would be solved, too. I personally would trust a non-native with fluent level in a different way that one with beginner level. Yes, of course, some people say there levels in profile but I think it is really rare. Thanks & have a productive Sunday. Enco.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    How to evaluate levels correctly? Some may believe they have a lower level than they actually have, while others may think they have a higher level?
    This would be the problem. If anyone had a recent qualification or accreditation they could use that as the basis - for example the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages uses standardised 'levels' across European languages to measure proficiency but in my case, although I have Grade A "A levels" which I got at school in both French and German, my French is passable but more than a little rusty whereas my German is now mostly forgotten.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Good morning ladies & gentlemen, I like Tatoeba very much and there you can choose your level of language proficiency in your profile. I think it would help us here, too, and the problem about non-native responders would be solved, too. I personally would trust a non-native with fluent level in a different way that one with beginner level. Yes, of course, some people say there levels in profile but I think it is really rare. Thanks & have a productive Sunday. Enco.
    Especially with German you will often see that native-German only speakers can tell you what tio say when, but non-natives on a high level can also tell you WHY - so that you have a chance of finding out for yourself another time.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    How to evaluate levels correctly? Some may believe they have a lower level than they actually have, while others may think they have a higher level?
    If you visit your doctor with leg pain and she asks you how strong the pain is all patients are different but it is quite a good start for the proper diagnosis, no?
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    Your doctor is a doctor, meaning that they underwent an evaluation, or several evaluations (maybe recently, maybe a long time ago) and are theoretically competent to fix your leg pain. But they have no obligation to deliver a result - they will endeavour everything possible to kill your pain, but maybe they are a GP and will remit you to a specialist because you have a very specific pain that does not respond to usual treatments.

    Same here. On the one hand, let's say you have a culinary question. Forero So-and-So may have a C1 level in x language but they won't solve your problem, while Forero Whatshisname, a professional cook, are just B2 but will solve your problem. On the other hand, as merquiades said, you may over- or underestimate yourself when performing a self-evaluation. And as Donny said, if you have done an official evaluation, it may have taken place a long time ago: maybe your fluency are improved, or maybe you have become rusty. Furthermore, most of us are not using our real names, and there is no way to check if your language level information is correct except by reading your posts. That's huge work. Moderators are already keeping a watching eye to spot non-natives claiming to be natives: I can't imaging what their workload would be if they had to check levels, too.

    I personally try to build confidence by giving or quoting examples, performing searches and using links as often as needed, in my native language or not.
     
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    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    Some CERFL certifications are valid forever. You may have a piece of paper from 2009 that states your proficiency level in French is C1. Does that mean that you still have the same level of proficiency? I doubt it. I am a certified correcteur et examinateur DELF/DALF and one of the first things you learn is that French diplomas are permanent. You can get certified today and stop using the language, and still tell the world that you are a C1 in French on your CV or LinkedIn profile! :D If you want a more accurate snapshot of your current proficiency in French, you need to take the TCF, which is valid for 2 years only.
     

    lauranazario

    Moderatrix
    Español puertorriqueño & US English
    Good morning ladies & gentlemen, I like XYZ very much and there you can choose your level of language proficiency in your profile. I think it would help us here, too, and the problem about non-native responders would be solved, too. I personally would trust a non-native with fluent level in a different way that one with beginner level. Yes, of course, some people say there levels in profile but I think it is really rare.
    My personal opinion regarding 'levels':
    1. Self-stating your 'level' is a very subjective thing —someone may personally regard themselves as an 'expert' when, in reality, they are not (I know way more English than anyone in my city/company/school, so I'm an expert).
    2. Self-stating your 'level' may lend itself to misrepresentation (I'm going to put on my profile that I am fluent in 15 languages and dialects—who's going to ask me for certifiable proof?)
    3. Self-stating your 'level' may lend itself to unnecessary squabbling (I'm telling you the answer is XYZ because I'm an expert and you cannot dispute it because you are an intermediate)
    I don't believe we need 'levels' to continue helping each other in the great collaborative spirit that characterizes WR. We are all equals and our inputs are equally valuable here! :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I like the idea, and have in fact proposed it to other moderators a few times in the past. While it's not a perfect science, it could serve as a useful indicator. While people could lie about their language proficiency or unwittingly mis-rate it, this is unlikely to happen in the majority of cases. Furthermore, if someone's self-rating doesn't match their proficiency as indicated by their posts, this is likely to be detected fairly quickly -- as happens with people who list a wrong native language in their profile. At that point, someone would probably report the user and the moderators would look into the matter. In any event, I don't see how adding self-ratings would be worse than the current system, where we only offer a binary native/non-native option in terms of listing languages. This has the undesirable consequence of lumping absolute beginners and near-natives into one nebulous category devoid of crucial nuance. We all know it's not that simple! As we've seen elsewhere, near-native speakers' responses are sometimes rejected because they are not native speakers. Such users could benefit from a self-rating that places their proficiency level at, say, a 9.5 out of 10.
     
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    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I don't know.

    I don't know how I would have to qualify myself.

    For Spanish, I know I'm good for grammar, but e.g. vocabulary and idioms are much less. For English, well, I spent all my profesional life in an English speaking environment. I wrote many, many articles, technical documentation etc. in English, I gave presentations in English, but my theoretical knowledge on grammar issues is, by far, not equivalent to what I know from Spanish grammar. That doesn't mean I make mistakes in English; I just don't know the underlying rules.

    My French; well it's pretty good but, since I never had to write it that much, spelling is not my "point-fort".

    Dutch: it's my mother tongue but, by jove, I wouldn't know how to explain all the weird inversions we have in Dutch to a non-native speaker (and there's a lot more in Dutch grammar that I cannot explain).

    So, how would I rate myself?????

    In the forums, I give answers to the topics I know (and, for Spanish, I make sure I have some backup material from a trustworthy source to corroborate my claims :rolleyes: ) and, if I'm not sure, I stay away from the thread.

    So, my conclusion is that I wouldn't know what I would have to say about myself about "my level".
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Self-ratings would be optional. Those who have difficulty rating themselves could choose not to do so.

    I appreciate the difficulties of rating one's language skills globally since there are differences between, among other things:
    1.) passive knowledge vs. active knowledge
    2.) different skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening
    3.) intuition vs. metalinguistic knowledge

    As I said above, it's not a perfect science, but could serve as a useful indicator. While self-ratings may occlude some nuance in some cases, they would provide more nuance than our current binary system.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It would clearly be open to mis-use, but so are most other things, and that doesn't in my opinion amount to a reason not to trial it to see how useful people found it - especially given that it would be optional. We could even devise some simple guidelines to try and get it started.

    As I said above, it's not a perfect science, but could serve as a useful indicator. While self-ratings may occlude some nuance in some cases, they would provide more nuance than our current binary system.
    Almost anything would be an improvement on our current system which seems to me to be full of anomalies.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Some CERFL certifications are valid forever. You may have a piece of paper from 2009 that states your proficiency level in French is C1. Does that mean that you still have the same level of proficiency? I doubt it. I am a certified correcteur et examinateur DELF/DALF and one of the first things you learn is that French diplomas are permanent. You can get certified today and stop using the language, and still tell the world that you are a C1 in French on your CV or LinkedIn profile! :D If you want a more accurate snapshot of your current proficiency in French, you need to take the TCF, which is valid for 2 years only.
    And the same for university diplomas, right? Someone may have a law degree, may even be a Dr., work several years in a sales department and then join the law office of his friend - and go to court on your behalf. Or he may have helped out in his uncles law office for years before even studying, watched him in court, and will be ready to take cases to court on his own the day he gets his diploma. But they should also retake their exam every two years? Is there really a valid argument for that? Does anyone do that unless they have their certificates and diplomas frome some organisation that wants to make money on retesting their students?

    How about people simply using their common sense and asking supplementary questions so that they can judge if the reply they get is really useful or not. I mean, that's what you have to do anyway - even at your physician's office. The framed diploma on his wall is nothing if what he is doing isn't helping you to feel better.
     

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Does anyone do that unless they have their certificates and diplomas frome some organisation that wants to make money on retesting their students?
    Oh yes, more people than you think have to be recertified; e.g. airline pilots are re-examined every 6 months (at least in Belgium); certified software engineers have to be recertified (= taking an exam) for every new OS release. Etc.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    I am as sceptical about self-ratings as I am regarding official certificates. I know a lady who, having studied German at university and having spent one year in Germany, claimed to be bilingual-bicultural. I didn't dare do so having spent several years in Latin America and occasionally speaking Spanish with part of my family after I returned to France (at that time, I hadn't taken any level assessment, and I don't know if there is any certification for "bilingual-bicultural"). Clearly, that lady oversold herself, and I undersold myself :D.
     
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    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Oh yes, more people than you think have to be recertified; e.g. airline pilots are re-examined every 6 months (at least in Belgium); certified software engineers have to be recertified (= taking an exam) for every new OS release. Etc.
    OK, that IS an example. But I could think of very, very few others. The diploma I got is still valid. My driving licence, and my PADI Scuba Diver licence also. So would my hunting licence test also still be valid if I had kept renewing it every year. The exam with which I qualified to study at university 35 years ago is still a valid qualification and I doubt that the dentists and the few general physicians I have seen over the years have to requalify either. Neither were any of the teachers I had in school obliged re-prove that they were qualified to teach the subjectes they pretended to teach.
     
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