Everyone talks about becoming "fluent" in a language. Fluent in 3 Months! Fluent Forever!
Fluency seems to just be then goal of every language learner, which is great.
However, so many people define fluency as being completely equivalent in proficiency to a native speaker of a language. To many people, that makes sense.
For me, on the other hand, it doesn't. The truth is, fluency in a language should not be the ultimate goal in language learning.
The truth is, in my experience, there is no such thing as "fluency" in a foreign language.
You might ask, "There's no such thing as fluency? That makes absolutely no sense! Why do we even try to get fluent in a foreign language then???"
"Fluency", in the sense of being just as fluent as a native speaker, doesn't exist. Fluency as an absolute concept doesn't exist.
Instead, fluency should be viewed as relative rather than absolute. In other words, you don't get "fluent" in a language. You get "more fluent" as you keep learning a language.
Fluency isn't a finish line. It's a neverending process of language learning. There is no absolute fluency, but there are fluency levels in language learning. For example there are proficiency tests like the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) and the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). The CEFR has six defined levels of fluency from an absolute beginner to native level fluency. The fluency levels are represented as A1 - absolute beginner, A2 - elementary or survival level, B1 - low intermediate, B2 - high intermediate, C1 - advanced, C2 - native level. The ACTFL measures its proficiency levels as Novice-Low, Novice-Mid, Novice-High, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate-Mid, Intermediate-High, Advanced-Low, Advanced-Mid, Advanced-High, Superior, and Distinguished. Both are measured for their listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities and list them all as separate categories of fluency.
The idea is that fluency is a PROCESS, NOT a RESULT. You can be at a basic level of fluency in one language, have an intermediate level of fluency in another language, an advanced level of fluency in another language, and a native level of fluency in yet another language and it's all OKAY. You don't have to be fluent in a language to communicate in it.
The term "fluency" comes from the Latin fluentia, meaning the flow of a language.
Fluency is the flow, the ease, the comfort at which you are able to speak a language. It is NOT speaking a language perfectly.
So, I ask of you, PLEASE don't focus on just getting to fluency when learning a language. Learn to enjoy the journey, the process, the voyage of learning a language.
So what are your experiences of fluency in a foreign language? How have they affected you? Is fluency absolute to you or is it a neverending process? Has this changed your perception of fluency in any way and hopefully inspired you to feel more confident in your language learning? Feel free to let me know!
Enhance Your Voyage, Learn a Language!