Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Proficiency vs Fluency: Which One Should You Aim For?

If you are learning a new Language, you may have heard of the terms proficiency and fluency. But what do they mean, and which one should you aim for? In this article, we will explain the difference between proficiency and fluency, and how they can benefit you in different ways.


What is proficiency?

Proficiency is about the mastery of a language. It refers to how well you can understand and use complex and nuanced language in various contexts and situations. Proficiency can be measured by standardized tests, such as the Common European Framework of Reference (CERF) or the Interagency Language Roundtable Scale (ILR), which assess your skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Proficiency levels range from beginner to advanced, and each level has specific criteria and descriptors. For example, according to the CERF, a proficient user at level C2 can:

- understand with ease virtually everything heard or read

- summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation

- express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations


What is fluency?

Fluency is about the ease and accuracy of communication. It refers to how smoothly and confidently you can speak and listen in a language without hesitation or errors. Fluency can be measured by various factors, such as speech rate, accuracy, and utterance.

Speech rate is the number of words or syllables you can produce per minute. Accuracy is the percentage of correct words or sounds you can produce. Utterance is the length of time you can speak without pausing or restarting.

Fluency levels are not standardized, but rather subjective and relative. For example, you may be fluent in a language for everyday conversations, but not for academic or professional purposes. Or you may be fluent in a language with some native speakers, but not with others who have different accents or dialects.


Which one should you aim for?

There is no definitive answer to whether proficiency is better than fluency, as they are both important aspects of language learning. However, depending on your goals and needs, you may want to focus more on one than the other.

The benefits and challenges of proficiency and fluency

Proficiency and fluency have different benefits and challenges for language learners. Here are some of them:

- Proficiency can help you access more resources and opportunities in your field of interest. For example, if you are proficient in English, you can read academic journals, apply for scholarships, or work for international organizations that require a high level of English.

- Proficiency can also help you understand and appreciate the culture and literature of a language. For example, if you are proficient in French, you can enjoy the works of famous authors like Victor Hugo, Albert Camus, or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

- Proficiency can be challenging to achieve because it requires a lot of time and effort. You need to study grammar rules, vocabulary lists, idioms, and expressions that are specific to a language. You also need to practice your skills in different modes and domains of communication.

- Proficiency can be frustrating to maintain because it can decline over time if you don't use it regularly. You may forget some words or structures that you learned before. You may also lose touch with the current trends and changes in a language.

- Fluency can help you build rapport and relationships with native speakers. For example, if you are fluent in Spanish, you can chat with locals, make jokes, or express your emotions in a natural way.

- Fluency can also help you improve your confidence and motivation in learning a language. For example, if you are fluent in German, you can feel proud of your achievements, overcome your fear of speaking, or challenge yourself to learn more.

- Fluency can be challenging to achieve because it requires a lot of exposure and practice. You need to listen to authentic speech from native speakers, speak as much as possible with different interlocutors, and correct your mistakes when they occur.

- Fluency can be frustrating to measure because it depends on various factors that are not easy to quantify. You may feel fluent in one situation but not in another. You may also have different expectations or standards for yourself than others.

The best methods and resources for improving proficiency and fluency

Proficiency and fluency can be improved by using different methods and resources that suit your learning style and preferences. Here are some suggestions:

- To improve your proficiency, you can use online tools and apps that help you learn new vocabulary, grammar rules, pronunciation tips, etc. For example, you can use [Duolingo] to learn basic words and phrases in various languages, [Grammarly] to check your writing for grammar errors and suggestions, or [Forvo] to listen to how words are pronounced by native speakers.

- To improve your proficiency, you can also use books and articles that provide you with in-depth and comprehensive information about a language. For example, you can use [Oxford English Dictionary] to look up the meanings, origins, and usage of words in English, [Le Petit Robert] to do the same for French, or [Duden] to do the same for German.

- To improve your fluency, you can use online platforms and communities that connect you with native speakers and other learners. For example, you can use [Italki] to find language partners or tutors who can help you practice your speaking skills, [HelloTalk] to chat with native speakers and exchange feedback, or [Reddit] to join language-related subreddits and participate in discussions.

- To improve your fluency, you can also use movies and shows that expose you to authentic and diverse speech from native speakers. For example, you can use [Netflix] to watch popular movies and shows in various languages, [TED] to watch inspiring talks on various topics in various languages, or [YouTube] to watch videos on anything that interests you in various languages.

The common myths and misconceptions about proficiency and fluency

Proficiency and fluency are often misunderstood or misused by language learners and teachers. Here are some common myths and misconceptions about them:

- Proficiency and fluency are the same thing. This is not true, as we have explained above. Proficiency is about the mastery of a language, while fluency is about the ease and accuracy of communication. They are related but not identical concepts.

- Proficiency and fluency are linear and fixed. This is not true, as they can vary depending on the context and situation. You may be more proficient or fluent in some skills than others, in some domains than others, or in some modes than others. You may also improve or decline over time depending on your exposure and practice.

- Proficiency and fluency are innate and immutable. This is not true, as they can be learned and developed with enough time and effort. You are not born with a certain level of proficiency or fluency, nor are you stuck with it forever. You can always improve your proficiency or fluency by using appropriate methods and resources.

The personal stories and experiences of proficient and fluent speakers

Proficiency and fluency are not only theoretical concepts, but also practical realities for many people who speak more than one language. Here are some personal stories and experiences of proficient and fluent speakers:

- [Tim Doner] is a polyglot who speaks over 20 languages. He started learning languages when he was 13 years old, motivated by his curiosity and passion for different cultures. He uses various methods and resources to learn languages, such as books, podcasts, online courses, flashcards, etc. He also practices his skills by speaking with native speakers online or offline.


- [Benny Lewis] is a language hacker who speaks over 10 languages. He started learning languages when he was 21 years old, motivated by his desire to travel and connect with people. He uses a method called "speak from day one", which means he starts speaking a language as soon as possible, even if he makes mistakes or sounds silly. He also uses various resources to learn languages, such as blogs, podcasts, apps, etc.


- [Lýdia Machová] is a language mentor who speaks over 10 languages. She started learning languages when she was 11 years old, motivated by her love for reading and learning. She uses a method called "language learning by yourself", which means she learns languages on her own, without attending classes or following textbooks. She also uses various resources to learn languages, such as books, movies, music, etc.


Proficiency and fluency are two important aspects of language learning, but they are not the same. Proficiency is the technical mastery of a language, while fluency is the ease and accuracy of communication. Depending on your goals, you may want to focus more on one or the other. However, both proficiency and fluency can benefit you in different ways, such as opening up new opportunities, enhancing your confidence, and enriching your cultural experience. Ultimately, the best way to improve both your proficiency and fluency is to practice regularly, use authentic materials, and expose yourself to native speakers. By doing so, you will not only learn a language, but also enjoy the journey.



This post first appeared on My Personal, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Proficiency vs Fluency: Which One Should You Aim For?

×

Subscribe to My Personal

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription

×