Hung up on fluency

There are so many misconceptions about the concept of fluency that it’s not even funny, but the one that most hurts people’s chances at feeling some sort of satisfaction with their language skills is this: if you don’t sound like a native, you’re not fluent and your language skills are crap.

This, ladies and gents, is a load of crock.

The idea that one has to learn a language to perfection is exactly what holds so many people back from unleashing their full potential. By this I do not mean to imply that inversely, imperfect language should be your ultimate goal. But, really, do you want to know what your ultimate goal should be?

Your own satisfaction.

Learning a language is a game where realistic goal-setting is a key factor, and motivation your fuel; too little, you stay where you are. Too much: up you go in flames. What I’m trying to get at is that you don’t have to sound like a native to be good at languages; you just have to know how to handle what you already know while you amplify your knowledge base. Fluency and ability are two very different things, and while fluency is like a beautiful golden medal you get at the end of the road, ability is the set of wheels that gets you to the end of the road, to start with. Which one would you rather have?

  • miztonpixan ,

    A-freakin’-men :3

    • Fabiana ,

      Ok, this time I have to leave a comment 🙂 you’re totally right! There was a time when I was worried about my english accent and I couldn’t really understand why a lot of people here in Italy put this as a condition. “If you speak with your own accent you’re not fluent” this is something I believed for too much time. And then I just realized that fluency is not something you will achieve being like a native speaker but just the capability to understand what the other person is saying with all its nuances and make the others understand you. Well, I’m not at the level I would like to be, even in English, but now I’m much more flexible with myself. I don’t try to be something that I’m not, instead I try to enjoy more the learning and since I’ve been doing this I improved a lot without even realizing! For me language fluency is something you want to achieve to express yourself at the best, but you don’t have to put a lot of efforts, just enjoy the process and try to express yourself as much as you can.

      • Sis L. ,

        Wee! I was like “she’s just being polite” when you told me you’ve read my blog this morning. Having you leave a comment made my day!

        Yeah, the same is true here in Mexico. A lot of people would rather not speak than to speak with an accent, which robs them the chance to practice and learn how to communicate better.

        People need to understand that fluency standards are different for natives and non-natives, and like you said, they need to be flexible with themselves. Trying to be what you’re not is setting oneself up for misery, and knowing how much fun it can be to learn a language, this is something I don’t wish upon anybody.

      • Fabiana ,

        Believe me…I’m much more direct XDD not the “just polite” person 🙂 Anyway totally agree with you! ^^