This subject often comes up when learning it comes to learning foreign languages. Many people think that you need to speak the language perfectly like a native speaker does. But is it that difficult to obtain? Is fluency only being able to speak your target language flawlessly? How do you know when you are truly fluent in a language? Let’s find out!
What Is Fluency?
According to Merriam Webster, it means:
The ability to communicate easily and smoothly
The ability to do something in a way that seems very easy
Which could mean being able to have a conversation completely in a new language smoothly without having awkward pauses. This also means that you can ask: “what does this word or phrase mean?” in the target language repeatedly as long as the conversation flows smoothly. In other words, you don’t have to know every word in the language to fluently communicate in your target language.
What do I mean by basic fluency? Which level do you have to achieve in order to make it to this level? I would consider this stage the B2 level of the Common European Framework. You’re at the point where you’ve conquered the basics and can handle the main idea of complex subjects but it might be difficult to go in depth when explaining things. It’s where you’re not completely proficient in the language but still maintain a powerful grasp on the target language itself.
Do we really need to learn every single word out of the bilingual/multilingual dictionary? I don’t think it’s possible! Especially when you think about all the words you know in your native language. Do you know every word in your native tongue? Chances are that you probably don’t because there’s so many words out there for specific niches. Each niche has their own specific vocabulary that someone who isn’t involved in that vocation would have no clue what they are discussing.
A scientist is going to have a different set of vocabulary than someone who’s a fashion designer.
What Is The Difference Between C1 and C2 Fluency?
The Common European Framework distinguishes C1 as being effective operational proficiency or advanced, while C2 is defined as mastery or proficiency. What are the subtle differences that someone at the C2 level do than someone at a C1 level can’t? Is it being able to mimic the accent of a native speaker to the point where you can fool a native speaker? Is it being able to understand everything without question? Or being able to understand the vast majority of what is being said to you without catching every single word?
What do you think? For those of you who are at C1 or C2 level do you feel fluent? Do you feel like you still have a much longer way to go? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!
Being Completely Fluent
Now this is often the fluency many people describe as being able to express anything you want without any difficulties whatsoever. This is what I’m sure most people learning a new language aspire to do. I know I often see on language forums of people wanting to know who to speak like a native speaker. How to get their accent down perfectly as well as perfection in speaking the local dialect. Where does it end?
Do you wake up one day with an “aha” moment knowing that you understood what people are saying and asking about and around you? Can you think in the language completely without having to relying on translating into your native language? It seems like being able to use a language without even having to think about is what people aim for.
It’s having non-stop dedication to your target language to accomplish this intense feat.
How long did it take you to become fluent in your target language? Are you still faraway from fluency? Are you at a level of basic fluency? I would love to hear how it went.