Language Fluency

Whenever someone asks me if I am fluent in Spanish I hesitate not knowing how to answer. What do they mean by fluent? Some people expect you to be a walking dictionary. They yell out a word, any word on any topic and you have two seconds to give the translated version of said word. Those of us that do speak a foreign language know that this is an impossible game to play. We are not walking dictionaries. So, what is language fluency? Fluency comes from the Latin word fluentem meaning “to flow”. Thus, language fluency is being able to speak and write easily in a given language. As you can see the word “fluent” is an arbitrary term. If a friend asks me if I am fluent the answer is yes. I can speak conversational Spanish with ease, however if a prospective employer for a position in Web Design asks me if I am fluent the answer is a resounding no. Many people think that being fluent means you know a lot of words and understand all the words when someone is speaking that language. The truth is a fluent speaker will not know all the words, but with the help of the context will be able to figure it out. Native speakers don’t even know all words in their own languages so why is it we expect language learners to know it all? Language fluency, in my humble opinion, is when you are no longer translating in your head or running to the nearest dictionary, but simply opening your mouth and speaking. And the only way to get fluent is to speak and to write, so get going! Speak!


One thought on “Language Fluency

  1. Marta Frant July 10, 2015 / 6:25 am

    Language fluency is exactly what I’m trying to master right now.


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