Do you speak fluently?

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Are you fully competent in your own language? Is it even possible to be fluent in a language?

The video about the myths of fluency deals with these questions and 3 myths are discussed to analyse the concept.

Myth 1: “Fluency is only linguistic and grammatical”:
An understanding of fluency which only considers linguistic and grammatical issues neglects the importance of the cultural context.

Myth 2: “You can’t speak a language until you’re fluent”:
Strict and static beliefs of having to be fluent to speak to people hinder improvement as language is continuous and develops through speaking to people.

Myth 3: “Language Learning is a linear process”:
There is no recipe when learning a language. Passing tests of beginner, intermediate, advanced level have few in common with the reality of speaking a language.
Should you understand any complex subject in order to be fluent? It is important to notice that even native-speakers of a language cannot do this. Special fields in every language community have particular vocabulary, jargon, terms, metaphors and expressions, which are hardly comprehensible to outsiders.

Another idea about the concept of fluency speaks of average native-speaker proficiency (Lampariello, polyglotdream). To achieve fluency one should integrate a language in the personal life and the surroundings. Nowadays, there is a necessity to have comparable results for education and career purposes. Various systems exist to measure language competence for example the Common European Framework of References for Language (CEFR). The last level C2 is seen as the goal and being native-like. The Council of Europe developed the Common European Framework of References for language to achieve comparable evaluations of foreign languages among different countries.

The Framework, however, appears to be rather static as it sees language learning as a linear process. Language usage evolves and fluency and language competence are not static. Are you fluent when you know every grammatical aspect and how to understand academic texts, but do not how to satisfy your basic needs without what is regarded as the proper use of grammar and language? As fluency is context-dependent, even native-speakers cannot understand everything in their language.

There are many beliefs, ideas and understandings on what is supposed to be fluency. What is yours?

Sources:

How to Reach Native-Like Fluency In a Foreign Language

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR)

Written by Anne Becker, study visitor at TermCoord