When you think about your goals in learning to Speak Spanish, what do you think of? Sipping coffee with a Spaniard? Navigating your way through a backpackers trail in Central America?
Let’s take a look at this more official definition from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluency#Language_fluency
Language fluency is used informally to denote broadly a high level of language proficiency, most typically foreign language or another learned language, and more narrowly to denote fluid language use, as opposed to slow, halting use. In this narrow sense, fluency is necessary but not sufficient for language proficiency: fluent language users (particularly uneducated native speakers) may have narrow vocabularies, limited discourse strategies, and inaccurate word use. They may be illiterate, as well. Native language speakers are often incorrectly referred to as fluent.
Fluency in English is basically ones ability to be understood by both native and non native listeners. A higher level would be bilingual, which indicates one is native in two languages, either having learned them simultaneously or one after the other.
In the sense of proficiency, “fluency” encompasses a number of related but separable skills:
- Reading: the ability to easily read and understand texts written in the language;
- Writing: the ability to formulate written texts in the language;
- Comprehension: the ability to follow and understand speech in the language;
- Speaking: the ability to produce speech in the language and be understood by its speakers.
To some extent, these skills can be acquired separately. Generally, the later in life a learner approaches the study of a foreign language, the harder it is to acquire receptive (auditory) comprehension and fluent production (speaking) skills; however, the Critical Period Hypothesis is a hotly debated topic. For instance, reading and writing skills in a foreign language can be acquired more easily after the primary language acquisition period of youth is over.
So What Does it Take to Become Fluent in Spanish
I would say that for most of us, we’re not really interested in becoming foreign diplomats, so we really aren’t interested in a super high level of Spanish fluency, what we really want, instead is to learn how to speak to our friends in conversations. And for that, we have Spanish Small Talk!