Here’s a schematic outline:
Stage One acquisition of L2: tprs
Stage Two: massive input
Question: what goes between the two stages? At some point, it appears we all agree, a strict tprs format of teaching can be suspended and we move into the flood of input that is a kind of immersion. But at what point do we have enough L2 acquired that we can immerse ourselves?
My own experience is that I can read along the stuff I like to read and I clearly (my my own measure) pick up lots more L2, i.e. acquire. Before that point, having never been taught via tprs, something happens where I pick up material and discover I can read it with 90% or more comprehension. It is likely that if I were quizzed on each and every word in the text, there would be between 10 and 20 % I could not give you a strict L1 equivalency for. Don’t forget, if you can give L1 equivalencies for 80% of a page of text, that leaves, on a page of 100 words, 20 words you either have to get from context or look up or get along without. That’s still a lot of words.
So the measure for me is do I enjoy reading what I’m reading. That must mean I am comprehending. For me, Stage One and a Half, like the train platform for Hogwarts, involves mainly reading but some other study as well (I have a category on my blog, Personal Language Study, where I discuss what I do). Magically, I arrive at the point where I can read the material at Stage Two, i.e. where I am enjoying and therefore comprehending what I am reading.
One way to measure this is to take a frequency list such as http://www.tabney.com/files/latingrammar/1400-essentials.pdf Tolle! Lege! The Fourteen Hundred, which claims to account for 80% of any page of Latin literature and do a self-test. Learners can rate themselves – 70 or 80 or 90 or 100% of the list – and see if they indeed, with a score of 100%, need look up only 20 words out of 100. Then how far beyond that do you need to go before you can comfortably read normal prose? Again, I say “look up”, but we probably can comprehend the text as a whole without knowing each word cold.
BTW, no hurry on any of this stuff. I’m just looking more closely at the acquisition process and at one end of it I am a pretty good test case b/c I can read comfortably in several languages and not so much in several others. What I lack, of course, is the tprs foundation in any of the languages. I am also prone to self-delusion. You can check me on that in Spanish. Maybe that’s my next project: to find people in these other languages who can check me out. I have Tiku for Urdu but no one for the others. My test would be to read a text and then tell my tester in L2 what the content was.
What do you think?
And that’s all comprehension, not output.
What happens between Stages One and Two in acquisition?
Here’s a schematic outline: