Current assessment of my language proficiency is as follows (in European framework).

      Vietnamese A1, Chinese A1, Japanese A1           -- Basic User
      English C1, Esperanto C1, Korean C2 (Native)      -- Proficient User

I think I can push my Vietnamese up to A2 till the end of next month just before my trip to Hanoi. My final goal of Vietnamese are B2. Even after the summer vacation in Hanoi, I will continue to learn Vietnamese till the end of this year and I will firmly grasp Vietnamese at B2 level. 

My condition of Japanese/Chinese/Vietnamese are similar - I want to speak/communicate better in these neighbor languages, but not very needed in my everyday life. I could blog/facebook/twitter frequently in these Asian languages after I get B2 level. These three languages share a wide range of words derived from ancient/written Chinese. So I guess 3 to 6 month of intensive investment would be sufficient to raise the level up to B2.

Esperanto and English are more frequent and demanding in my life. My goal is to push them to C2 level - to create a serious work, like writing/translating a valuable book(novel) before I die.

I'm now 42 years old and expected life-span will be 80+. I hope I will be active in my life untill 77, and I have more or less 35 years of active life. If I invest 2 years more in those 5 foreign languages, I think I can manage much healthier, wealthier, meaningful, and friendly life.

My maximum investment plan: Vietnamese/Chinese/Vietnamese +6 month of intensive improvement, simultaneously for B2 level, English/Esperanto: +1 year of intensive improvement, simultaneously for C2 level, up until the end of 2013. And I should feel comfortable in all five languages, from 2014 on.


Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR)

A. Basic User

A1. Breakthrough or beginner
    Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
    Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
    Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2. Waystage or elementary
    Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
    Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
    Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B. Independent User

B1. Threshold or intermediate
    Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
    Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
    Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.
    Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2. Vantage or upper intermediate 
    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.

C. Proficient User

C1. Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced
    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.

C2. Mastery or proficiency
    Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
    Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
    Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.


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Posted by nomota multilingual

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  1. CY 2013.07.19 01:49 신고 Address Modify/Delete Reply

    Wow! I think it is absolutely impossible for any foreigner to master B2 level in Vietnamese in a year. And I don't see any polyglots on YouTube who can speak Mandorin/Cantonese fairly well in such a short time.

    Even only capturing the Vietnamese sound takes one and half year they say. I don't know. That is what I hear from other long experienced learners.

    • Favicon of BlogIcon multilingual 2013.07.21 09:49 신고 Address Modify/Delete

      Yes, you are right. Actually I had failed. That was last year, trying to get it just before the trip to Hanoi. Anyway I realised again that I'm not a fast learner. This year I'm going on, in my own slow method. My mission thus year would be engrave basic Vietnamese words(3000) firmly in my brain. I'm sure I can achieve that and maintain that by using a smartphone app AnkiDroid. Next year I'm going to use Pimsleur's method to achieve the flowing sound of the language. Pimsleur's method seems to be quite effective... I was trying to learn Portuguese before the trip to Sao Paulo and it was quite effective for me. The trip was canceled and I just quit the Portuguese. I am a Korean and I'm somewhat ahead because Korean has a lot common words with the Vietnamese, although the pronunciation is exotic to me, too.

Three years ago, I found my body was malfunctioning and I needed some operation. Some kind of operation on my neck to relieve my spinal cord out of pressure. My appearance from outside is normal, but since then I got some serious pain on my left side - chronicle pain syndrome or something like that, which isn't visible from outside. Though it's very painful, I can ignore the pain, knowing that it's just a mis-interpretation of the signals from my left-side of the body, at some point in the neck.

By that time, I realized that I have limited life-span for the first time. I am 43. What can I do, under serious illness until I die? The pain always reminds me that I am broken and I'm dying.

Learning new things wasn't seem to be a good idea. If I were in my 20s, then... I would do everything to learn new things, just like what I really did in my 20s. But now, in my 40s, with my broken body, is it a good idea to learn something new? Especially if it takes years to learn...

I can speak Esperanto and Korean fluently. I had learned Japanese and Chinese to 'sufficient' level as a tourist. Knowing that I'm dying, it's a terrible waste of time to learn a new language, and it's obvious that I need to polish my previous languages to some higher level, and yet, it's only when some urgent neccesity arises. No more languages, enough is enough. Learning languages will kill too much of my limited time. I am already a polyglot. If I count those computer languages, I may be a hyper-polyglot. So it's enough.

Quite recently, however, I found interesting news on my Facebook, that some Irish guy (Benny the Irish Polyglot) claims that he can learn any language in 3 months, 'fluently'. ( ) He's now on his challenge to Chinese, reported on his blog, Oh my... That's interesting.

After some more Googling I found that there are more people who are hacking languages to achieve fluent level within months, not years. OK, then, even though I know that I'm dying, yes, I could try some new language, only if I could do it in months, not years, to a fluent level.

After even more Googling, I got confirmed that I could do that too.

In Hanoi, Vietnam, a World Esperanto Congress takes place this summer, and my family (me, my wife and son, an Esperanto family) will attend it. It's an Esperanto gathering, all I need is Esperanto. I can speak Esperanto fluent enough, though not perfect.... but, wait, if I manage to speak Vietnamese, wouldn't it be more exciting in Hanoi? It's terrific to give it a try, myself. I have 7 months anyway!

That's how it started.

My challenging point is that I'm tackling Vietnamese before my first step in Vietnam. My plan is to utilize available things on the Internet and guide myself as 'unconventional' as possible to get the short-cuts.

With Android phones and iPhone, I can get useful learning material for free ... and I started to search more materials.... oh my... there are way too more than I can chew. To get myself on some guided way, I needed some traditional methods. So I bought a little book with MP3.

Good. I'm on my highway.

First problem with Vietnamese is the pronunciation. It is very weird to me. I hear some consonants and vowels with tones, but I can't reproduce with my voice. Because I don't know why that specific letter is pronounced like that. 

I agree with Benny, that the languages are best learned by 'sounds', not by 'texts'. So I kept myself focused on the sound all the time... Vietnamese has very weird sound system, to my ears. More Googling guided me to the explanations why and how I can produce the sound. Vietnamese pronunciation is very difficult at first, but it's very logical and consistent, if you understand some basic rules.

I'm still not 100% accustomed with the sounds, but I am sure that I will be comfortable with the sounds in 2~3 weeks. Happy point is that Vietnamese has very simple grammar. After 2~3 weeks from now, pronunciation and grammar will no more be problems at all.

With modern social networks, I can communicate with Vietnamese friends and the Google translation works quite well for my neccesity at the moment.

I have 5 more months. I'm sure that I can speak Vietnamese by the time I step in Hanoi.

Posted by nomota multilingual

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