This sort of self-talk that you describe is actually something that I’ve been doing a lot of over the past year. It may seem a little silly talking to yourself (especially for me, as I’m speaking audibly while studying in public), but I’ve found the practice to be invaluable. Like you said, it also gives me a chance to identify what I don’t know so I can fill in the gaps in specific contexts.
I understand what you’re saying, but I would have to add that a high level of proficiency in any language is not possible without a strong vocabulary, so if there’s a way to rapidly improve the acquisition of vocabulary I can only conclude that it must be a tremendously useful thing, assuming of course that retrieval is fluid.
I absolutely agree that the traditional methods for language learning, like those taught in universities, aren’t ideal. There are so many people I’ve spoken with who’ve taken years of a foreign language but can’t even hold a simple conversation. I could honestly write several pages just on the issues I have with the conventional teaching methods.
That’s a very fair question. I would define native proficiency as being able to read and write at a level comparable to that of a native high school graduate, knowing all the grammar, being able to communicate without hesitation (+ good pronunciation), and having a vocabulary of at least 10,000 words. 10,000 words seems to be the “target number” for native proficiency across multiple languages according to several sources I’ve come across.