- People often confuse the terms “fluency” and “proficiency” and use them synonymously.
- Asking people “how many languages are you fluent in?” is difficult to answer because it has such a muddy definition and people often mean to say ‘proficient’.
- ‘Proficiency’ refers directly to your skill level.
- ‘Fluency’ literally refers to the speed and flow of what comes out of your mouth as you speak.
- My original definition of fluency is ‘being able to use your target language to acquire more target language’ but my thinking has evolved on this point.
- These days I use ‘fluency’ to refer to the flow of your speaking and reserve ‘proficiency’ for skill.
- Fluency and proficiency can overlap.
- You can be highly proficient but have poor fluency on topics that you’re unfamiliar with.
Related blog post:
I wrote in detail about the difference between proficiency and fluency here.
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