Having the ability to converse in English with ease and clarity is an important skill for many people. But what exactly is fluency in English?
Fluency involves more than just knowing the words and grammar of a language. It also includes being able to comprehend spoken language and then accurately convey ideas and concepts in an understandable way.
In this article, we’ll discuss what fluency in English is, how it can be improved, and some of the benefits it provides.
What is fluency in English?
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that fluency in a language is something that can mean different things to different people. Fluency can be hard to define.
Some people could consider themselves fluent in a language if they’re able to hold basic conversations and understand the main points of a conversation or text. Others may consider fluency to be the ability to speak a language at a native-like level, with a high degree of proficiency in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
Fluency is therefore a relative term, and something that can also depend on a person’s goals and needs.
To be fully fluent in English, I personally think that it’s important for a person to have the ability to communicate smoothly and effectively in both oral and written forms of English. Although I would consider spoken English the more important of these two skills. Unless that is written English is specifically required for a job. Either way, you need to make sure that you are understood in any scenario to be considered fluent.
What do English teachers think?
One of main things that a lot of students want to know is how to be a fluent English speaker. When it comes to this question, most English teachers would agree that fluency in English is the ability to speak the language with appropriate rhythm and intonation, while maintaining good pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. This means that you should be able to speak reasonably quickly without having to pause a lot, at the same time as not making too many errors!
Additionally, it’s worth noting that fluency in English is not necessarily the same as native-level language proficiency. Even native speakers may not have perfect fluency and can stumble over their words and make mistakes, just like language learners!
However, regardless of this, fluency is an important goal for many English language learners, as it allows them to communicate effectively and confidently in a variety of settings. It also just happens to help when it comes to passing those pesky English exams like IETLS and TOEFL.
So, the big question is, can fluency is English be taught and/or learned?
Can fluency in English be taught?
Yes, fluency in English can be taught, to some extent. There are many language schools, tutors, and programs that can help English language learners improve their fluency. But, this isn’t something that can be achieved overnight.
To help students develop their English fluency there are a few things that you can do. They key thing is to make sure you allow plenty of time in class for them to communicate freely. If you’re designing tasks that facilitate this, they should incorporate speaking and listening elements. These are the two most important elements of effective communication, which forms the basis of fluency.
Allowing for preparation time is also important. If someone is prepared to talk, they are more likely to feel confident. This will help with their flow of speech and reduce any hesitation in their voice.
Finally, you need to provide consistent, actionable feedback. This is what makes for a good teacher, as it plays a vital role in helping learners improve.
Just remember, it takes time and consistent practice for someone to become fluent in a language, and this is no different for English.
When should you start?
To develop fluency, it helps if you start learning English from a young age. Many countries now prioritize English in their curriculum to encourage this. English language statistics tell us that there are 400 million people learning English in China, with a significant portion of these being children. This is no coincidence.
People who learn English as a second language as a child are naturally more likely to be fluent as an adult. However a recent study entitled “A Critical Period for Second Language Acquisition” showed that adults can obtain a high level nearly as fast as children. So, keep the faith!
Why confidence is important
Speaking of faith, to be a fluent speaker you usually need to have confidence in your abilities. So, it’s only natural that some people may find it easier to become fluent in English than others.
How many times have you been in a situation as a language learner where you thought you’d finally made a breakthrough, only to speak to a native-speaker and have you fluency fall apart due to nervousness? On the flip side, have you ever suddenly found yourself speaking a foreign language like a legend after a couple of beers? I know I certainly have!
A lot of this can come down to your faith in your own language skills. The best way to improve this is to practice. A teacher can help you become fluent by providing you with tuition and guidelines, it’s then down to you to implement what you learn.
In this sense, fluency can be taught to a degree, but it’s down to each individual learner to apply themselves and develop their language skills. So, if you’re a teacher make sure you take this into account when managing your students.
And if you’re a student, even if you’re not fluent yet, take every chance you can to speak English. You’ll find that your fluency will improve over time as your confidence and understanding of the language grows. The same applies for learning other languages too.
How to improve fluency in English
Some quick tips for improving fluency in English for either your students or for yourself include:
- Regularly practice speaking and listening skills.
- Read extensively in English. Even watching Netflix in English with English subtitles can help.
- Work on pronunciation and accent reduction.
- Take an English course or hire a tutor to receive structured instruction.
- Immerse yourself in an English-speaking environment, such as by studying abroad or living in an English-speaking country.
There are also a number of great language learning apps you can check out. Apps such as DuoLingo can really help when it comes to practicing the pronunciation and structure of vocabulary you learn.
What are the benefits of being fluent in English?
To provide you with some motivation, it’s safe to say that there are numerous benefits to achieving fluency in English. To name a few:
- Improved communication: Fluency in English allows people to communicate better with others, which can be beneficial in both work and social life. At work it can help you when communicating with English speaking colleagues or making presentations. While in your social life it can open up opportunities for traveling and living abroad.
- Enhanced job prospects: English is a requirement for many jobs, and can also be a valuable asset in the job market. Being fluent in English can open up opportunities for employment and career advancement. It can even help secure a move abroad. Both universities and job roles in English speaking countries usually require a good degree of fluency in English.
- Improved cognitive skills: Learning to speak a second language fluently can have cognitive benefits. These including improved problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as improved memory and attention to detail.
- Cultural enrichment: Fluency in English can allow you to better understand and appreciate the culture and literature of English-speaking countries. Plus, no more watching Netflix and wondering what is going on!
- Travel: If you’re fluent in English you can travel abroad safe in the knowledge that you’ll always have a way to communicate with people. After all, English is the world’s global language and it makes both traveling and doing business abroad a lot easier.
Conclusion: Achieving fluency
Fluency in English is an important factor for effective communication and a highly sought after skill for many people. It can be achieved through consistent practice, and by using a variety of techniques. Having the right attitude and being open to learning are essential components of becoming fluent. As is believing in yourself and your abilities.
Everyone learns at a different pace, and some people may find it easier to become fluent in English than others. With the right effort and dedication, anyone can learn how to become fluent in English.
Learning how to become fluent in any language is a journey, but it opens up doors to so many adventures, opportunities and new experiences. So, take your time and enjoy the ride!