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After deciding which C language to add, which is a whole process in itself, and reaching, say B1 level*, which methods are the most adapted ones among, or except:

  • attending a language school,
  • using language learning software,
  • reading,
  • shadowing,
  • spending time in the country,
  • taking private lessons,
  • talking with the natives
  • watching visual media.

* 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."

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

asked 19 Apr '12, 15:18

TR%20Europe's gravatar image

TR Europe

edited 19 Apr '12, 19:20

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Different people learn differently of course, but my experience of learning Polish as an adult suggests the following. (Subsitute any other languages, nationalities or countries for EN & PL as appropriate below.)

  • Learn most of the grammar and basic conversation BEFORE going to spend a long period in the country. (Going to the country in question before you can hold a conversation will mean you end up making friends who speak EN with you, not PL.)

To do this attend language classes once or twice a week but do most of your studying in your own time and at your own initiative. Work through a couple of school text books or learn Polish books in this time. The language lessons gave me motivation to study in my own time, even though I didn't get much out of them per se. When I stopped going to class I stopped studying in my own time as well. Pay a Pole, not a teacher, to come and listen to you painfully and slowly try to string sentences together. (Students are cheaper than teachers, and the latter will explain everything whereas what you need is time trying to get it right yourself.) Approx. 2 years.

  • Start going to PL for extended stays, 1 month, 2 months Start reading authentic material. Newspapers are surprisingly easy, because you know the news in your own language and because they use a very limited range of language. PL school text books for Poles are good, eg Geography for 12 year olds. Approx. 1-2 years.

  • Go to Poland for 9-18 months. The longer the better. If you can, share a flat, or lodge, with PL speakers. Talking PL every breakfast time, and every evening, as well as having someone around to ask questions is simply invaluable.

Take up some activities that bring you into regular, talking, contact with PL speakers. (Scuba diving and football are not so great. Drinking, book clubs, office jobs and dating are quite good.)

Start reading all the newspapers all the way through, and the weekly current affairs magazines.

Watch a lot of TV and listen to talk radio every spare minute of the day. You don't have to concentrate on it, just listen all the time. Catch up the 000's of hours head start that native-speakers have on you. (Get a small portable radio & headphones for use when walking, commuting, ironing, cooking etc.) Talk radio has a nice combination of repetition of subjects and register, and variety of the same. You'll get the most of the subjects talked about, and registers used, the most by the natives, but some of the rarer stuff as well.

Later in this year you can start reading the literature. Sit down with a Pole and watch the cult TV series and films. (You'll need someone to explain why they are funny, cult, brilliant etc. Understanding the language is often not enough!)

  • when you think you're ready to interpret from the language... ...go back and spend another 6 months in the country!
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answered 14 May '12, 15:18

Andy's gravatar image


edited 15 May '12, 02:51

I don't know about "the best" method - but given the fact that we can use the internet for practising foreign accents, fast speakers and difficult subjects and also given the fact that we have a global network of colleagues, we can practice as "Tandems":

A „Tandem-Team“ consists of at least two conference interpreters joining forces in order to support each other in their training who meet or work together either. Ideally, both interpreters are native speakers of the other’s B- or C-language.

A little instruction on "How to tandem" can be found here:

It is a matter of taking the initiative and addressing colleagues who might want to improve their language skills in your native language in turn. You might even meet them at a multilingual conference for which you have been hired.

Adding a couple of hours of tandem work with a team colleague before or at the end of a conference can really be helpful. Apart from working together directly when you are in the same place, you can connect via Skype or other chat software.

As I can tell from experience, tandem work can be highly effective - and GOOD FUN!

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answered 20 Apr '12, 17:59

AlmuteL's gravatar image


Hello! I like all the previous answers, as they were what I did when reactivating my C language after a hiatus of some 15 years of never using it after graduating from MIIS.

I wonder, though, that nobody mentioned reading about the culture/history/geography/sports etc of the country, in whatever language, just to have a framework in your head about why the speakers actually think a certain way? For example, when I reactivated my C (French) here in Europe, I ended up reading about the history/culture/national attitudes from Belgium, Switzerland, and all the francophone countries in Africa and around the world. All this had been woefully neglected in my original education back in university, which focused only on France (and I had learned about Canada on my own by growing up near the border). It has certainly helped me to know where someone comes from to know "where they are coming from," as it were.

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answered 25 Feb '15, 10:56

JuliaP's gravatar image


This has been discussed previously in other threads. If you poke around of the forum, you'll find lots of info and tips. Good luck!

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answered 14 Feb '15, 10:12

Anyuli%20In%C3%A1cio%20Da%20Silva's gravatar image

Anyuli Ináci...


(The question was amongst the first to be posted here, back in April 2012.)

(14 Feb '15, 10:19) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 19 Apr '12, 15:18

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last updated: 25 Feb '15, 10:56

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