by Alexia Wolker
During assessing the level of proficiency in the language, such criteria as fluency is used. Everyone knows that this is an important aspect, but we often understand very different things by the words “fluent” and “fluency”. In a broad sense, its concept implies fluency and free expression of thoughts in a foreign language. But here is a paradox, high knowledge of a foreign language doesn’t necessarily provide fluency, and vice versa, a student with a low level can communicate quite successfully.
Many people believe that fluency is available only for people with the Advanced or Proficiency level, as well as native speakers because fluency ensures absolute knowledge of the vocabulary and correct use of various grammatical structures. But this would mean that native speakers are not always fluent, because everyone makes mistakes, and only a few people can speak English at the level of Shakespeare.
Some people perceive fluency as the highest level of spoken language, and we can agree with this as fluency implies not only the ability to communicate but also to think in a foreign language.
In fact, the fluency of a foreign language means a certain "smoothness" and naturalness of speech. And this doesn’t necessarily require "one hundred percent" knowledge of words and grammar, but the ability to "own your speech." So it would be wrong to assume that the desired fluency is available only for people with a level above CAE. If you have certain skills, if you’re a person with an adequate level of Pre-Intermediate, so you can speak quite fluently, just the range of topics will be narrower, and the constructions will be simpler.
There are some tricks that will help non-native speakers to avoid prolonged pauses in speech and sound as native-like fluency speaker.
If you do not know what to say, you can:
The naturalness of speech provides intonational expressiveness:
Sometimes dramatic pauses may be appropriate. “You’ll never guess who I’ve just met ...”
It’s important to learn to express different emotions of intonation, for example, to stretch words, to express doubt “Well, I don’t know, but ...”, to highlight words, to convey surprise: “You did WHAT?”
Our recommendations of how to achieve native-like fluency in a foreign language would be the next:
When you learn a language, you practice four basic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Speaking is the most important skill. A high level of spoken language is a huge plus to your resume and your key to incredible opportunities and experiences. However, at the same time, speaking is the hardest skill (of course, when it comes to the correct literary pronunciation), since it requires extensive vocabulary, knowledge of grammatical rules, correct pronunciation, and also the high pace of speech, that is, the accumulation of a wide range of knowledge. So don’t be frustrated if sometimes you feel like a “dog”: "I understand everything, but I can say nothing.”
Linguistic experts argue that basic communication skills can be acquired in a few weeks and the basics of a foreign language in a few months. It’s possible that you will not quickly reach the necessary level to understand the great works of the classics of foreign literature, but you will practice to skillfully build phrases and operate the terminology of your sphere of activity, whether you work abroad or in the international company. Most people don’t need much time to start discussing news with the people of Berlin or to share their thoughts with their counterparts from Vienna.
And the most important, try to think in foreign language. Of course, this sounds fantastic, and it seems impossible to “think in foreign language,” especially if the level of proficiency is low. This can be achieved gradually, but first of all, you need to limit external references of the native language in the process of learning a foreign language: use dictionaries, books reference, and foreign-language manuals. Of course, practice speaking as often as possible. Remember, we learn from mistakes. Well, if you can’t relax at all, then turn to the old tried-and-tested method—roll 50 grams of something "hot"—the tongue will be resolved by itself!
Alexia Wolker is a blogger and works as an editor.She has a Master's Degree in literature and loves both reading and writing about books and literary topics. She also helps students with their literary assignments - articles, essays and summmaries of books, her works you can see at here.
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