Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | March 12, 2014

What is fluency ?

What does it mean to be fluent ? 

I may have mentioned this before but I think there are a few definitions of fluency.

One urban myth concerns dreaming in a foreign language, but some people have said they don’t dream in any language at all – they just dream in pictures.

Perhaps a better definition is to do with the idea of fluidity. If you can say ” I – WILL – GO – TO – PARIS – TOMORROW” then you might be able to construct a reasonably correct sentence but it doesn’t sound very fluent. If you can add to that and say “I will probably go to Paris tomorrow but I’m not really sure” it sounds much more fluent and like you have a much better control of the English language.

Another definition (and I’m not sure where this comes from) concerns being creative and being able to build all the possible sentences in a given language, even if they sound like nonsense. The blue car is in the swimming pool is a sentence you won’t hear very often but you should be capable of recognising that it’s a grammatically correct sentence.

Another definition now is using our (only-a-few-years-old) tool, the European framework for languages. If you can say you’re a C1 or C2 level in English based on this scale, then it’s a pretty good guide that you’re reasonably fluent.

For me personally, at one point I realized I was fluent after 7 years in France: one day, listening to the radio in French every day, I realized that my mind had switched to French and I was thinking in French.

Any other suggestions as to what is fluency ?  


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