Saturday, January 24, 2009

what is fluency?

What does 'fluent' mean? Does it mean, "getting by" using just your foreign or second language? Are you fluent if you can carry on a conversation? Does somebody who has an office job and has to communicate with coworkers in their language only, qualify for the title "fluent?"

I do all of the above in Japanese. However, I don't consider myself to have reached fluency. I always run into things I don't know how to express. Every time that happens, it reconfirms to me that my knowledge is lacking. I can surely fix that with a lot of input just by watching TV. But since my focus is on Chinese now, the Japanese can wait.

I bring this up because I recently had a conversation with a Japanese tutor at LingQ. I signed up for a 15-minute 1-on-1 conversation that lasted 25 minutes. At 18 minutes and 40 seconds into the conversation, she stated that I was fluent in Japanese. While I wouldn't say it about myself, I guess she has every right to say it. I've made a lot of improvement in the last 1½ years in my ability to speak.

Here is a small mp3 file of the statement the tutor made. It is about 4 seconds long, in Japanese.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, fluency means being able to communicate smoothly, without stopping to much to think, and understand more than 90% of what is being said to you. Even though I stopped studying Japanese almost one year ago, I believe I still have fluency since I can hold a conversation with any Japanese people. Of course I will need some time to get used to flow and rhythm of Japanese language again. Maybe we can divided fluency in various levels,like basic fluency, intermediate fluency, advanced fluency, etc.


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