What's YOUR concept for "fluency"?

I’m not referring to the scientific view. Or the possibility of making mistakes - all of us do that, thank God! Hahaha! I would like to know YOUR OPINION. Is someone fluent when his/her talk is truncated, the words are out of its real context or mixed with others languages? Woudn´t it be better if we say “people can understand me” instead of “I am fluent”?

Hi Сristina,
I think that ¨fluent¨ and ¨people can understand me¨ refer to completely different levels of language studying. People can understand you from very beginning, if the both side are interesting to understand each other. Speaking fluency for me is when I can speak with a native and feel that I can talk about many topics and deliver my message naturally, without thinking how to say what I want to say.

Fluency is a relative term. I agree with Ina that basically it means the ability to communicate on a variety of subjects, albeit with mistakes, with words that we do not understand, and moments when we feel tongue-tied and unable to see what we would like as easily as we would like. When w are fluent we find communicating in the language to be a pleasant and not stressful task, most of the time.

Let me try that again. I was typing too fast.

I mean that we are comfortable and still find that there are words that we do not understand and times when we are unable to say what we want. Sorry for the typos. one day we will have an editor here, but there are still too many other things to do.

I also think that it’s a rather vague term. I’ve actually written about this topic before and here is an excerpt from the post on my blog:

I used to naively think that this meant being able to say anything in the foreign language and in your own native language. That would mean that if you couldn’t explain how to change a carburetor, the difference between socialism and communism or the steps to buying a house in your target language, without making any obvious grammatical or pronunciation mistakes, then you couldn’t really say that you spoke it. That seems to be a bit demanding since there are many monolinguals that have a hard time doing that well in their own native language.

Even so, I get very annoyed with people who learn a dozen phrases in five languages and try to pass themselves off as cultured polyglots. I don’t think that we should claim to speak a language unless we can at least deal with native speakers well enough to say: I’m sorry. What is a wiggetybunket? I’ve never heard that word before. and then be able to understand the native speaker’s simple explanation. We should also be able to pronounce words well enough for native speakers to be able to understand almost every word we say. Lastly, we should have a good enough understanding of the grammar/structure of the language to form original sentences that are at least mostly correct. If you have a higher level of proficiency then so much the better. Qualifying the number of languages you speak is always a good idea. Statements like, I speak two fluently and am conversational in four others or, I know four and have studied eight are good examples of how to honestly portray your language abilities.

Dear crisolinda,

For me it’s more important how to become fluent, and in my opinion doing by LingQ as Plus or Premium member is a real possibility to reach it.

I think you don’t need to be a Plus or Premium member. You need to be motivated in order to reach your goal.
One year ago my English was really bad, but someone managed to motivate me to improve. Now I daily read a chapter from a book, I talk to all kinds of people and I even have my own diary in English!
There are different ways to attain fluency. Lingq is a good one but it isn’t required.

Fluency is a goal, and an elusive one. It is what we aspire to, like happiness, and we never know when we achieve it, and we always doubt ourselves.

I agree with Junair and Vincent. I agree that LingQ is a great environment for pursuing fluency because LingQ is based on how the brain naturally learns things.

I agree with Vincent that it is not necessary. 99.9999% of the people who have achieved fluency in another language do not know LingQ exists. But most of them were motivated.

To paraphrase both Manfred Spitzer and Stephen Krashen, we need meaningful input, lots of it, and we need to be motivated, emotionally connected to the language, and we need to be alert and attentive. We also do better if we are socially connected and supported by friends.

LingQ provides content to choose from. Learning from interesting content should motivate you. We track your progress, which should motivate you. If you create LingQs and review your vocabulary, and if you write and speak and review the reports from your tutors, you will become more attentive to different aspects of the language, the things you need to work on. Our community provides support. And, if you put in the time, your brain will learn and let you achieve fluency.

All of that can also be achieved without LingQ. For some people, our members, LingQ makes it easier and more enjoyable. At least that is our hope at LingQ.

Hello everybdoy

I has been many years studing english, but I have not the opportunity of practice it.
I am looking for a way of to do practices.
Could you, help me?
I am from spain, but I usually do not go out of my country, then I think, that internet could be a posibility.

Thanks everybody.

Hi vinbelgium,

I mean by Plus and Premium membership you can have your writing corrected and speak to your tutor. That’s crucial to attain fluency. I know in Belgium you have more possibilities to speak somebody English as in Germany. But, of course you’re right; there are different ways to attain fluency.

Hi Jose Manuel,

If you are interested in improving only your speaking skills, I’d recommend you to join conversation on regular basis. Go to Speak page, choose time, topic and level, buy some points and join. Those are very helpful conversations with a native tutor. In addition, you can connect via Skype with other students interested in English conversations – students that like me publish their skypename on their pages.
I feel that my speaking skills also benefit from other activities you can do easily in LingQ – reading, vocabulary learning, and especially from regular listening.

Good lack and I hope to here you soon!

Welcome to LingQ Jose Manuel! I support what Ina said to you. The one on one speaking sessions with a tutor are a particularly good place to start, because you can discuss your level and your goals and get advlice about how to use LingQ to meet you own personal needs.

You could book a quarter of an hour with every tutor and decide which of us you like the best, or join speaking sessions hosted by each of us in turn if you like :slight_smile:

I got distracted and forgot to answer the question!

I call students intelligible on everyday topics at beginner 2. Students can speak intelligibly on everyday subjects but the listener has to be patient and accept a lot of pauses and requests to rephrase questions.

I call students fluent at intermediate 1. Students speak sentences without irritating pauses either between or in the middle of them, their grammar mistakes are still noticeable but no longer affect the meaning of the sentence, they do not need to grope for words to express everyday concepts.

At intermediate 2 I can no longer hear regular errors in speech, more sophisticated vocabulary is used, complex topics can be addressed, nuances in meaning explored.

At advanced 1 the speaker can use idiom comfortably, can discuss their technical or professional specialism, can comfortably understand educated natives talking to each other.

At advanced 2 …I’m not sure yet how I’d define it but it’s very impressive when you hear it!

I hope other tutors and students agree with me on these descriptions of grades!


I agree with everything except that I do not find pauses irritating at any stage of learning-:), not even my own.

Wow! It seems my question was so provocative that attracted most people who are tutors. Yes, LingQ is a good site for acquiring fluency for we can have our progress tracked as Steve said, even it’s not the only place for that as vinbelgium emphasized. Thanks, blueskyteapot, for letting us know your experience with your students - very enlightening. We can see foreigners who live in Brazil for more than 20 years and they make the same mistakes as before, their accent interferes in understanding, they don´t get concerned about that and even so they name themselves “fluent”. That BEHAVIOR is annoying. Maybe they think it is a kind of status which makes them more proeminente than the locals, hu? Inablau pointed out the “without thinking how to say what I want to say” importance. Steve talked about “a pleasant and not stressful task, most of the time” and the “put in the time” relevance. Bootheryan highlighted that in statements as “I speak two fluently and am conversational in four others or, I know four and have studied eight are good examples of how to honestly portray your language abilities.” Thanks junair and josemanuel too. Thanks for all of you, tutors or not, who spent your time sharing your view points.
See you guys next forum.

I am neither a language teacher nor any sort of teacher but I also have something to say here. Consider the fact that some may be fluent having vocabulary of only 800 words, while others will struggle all the way with that of 8000 words. Technically speaking learning the language and gaining fluency are different areas, therefore they must have different methods and approaches of learning and practicing. One’s level of knowing the language and the ability to speak and write decently can differ immensely where level of knowing the language stands for how well do you understand fluent speech and writing, whereas they ability to speak and write how well you convey it. This applies pretty much equally to native speakers as well.