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Fluency

So the past few days I have heard people say “I am fluent in _____.” And they ramble off a language or two. But are they really fluent? What does it honestly mean you are fluent? Does taking 3, 4, 5, or even 8 classes dedicated to some language, and having a perfect grade in the classes envoke fluency? I don’t think so.

Why? Well the definition of fluent is “able to express oneself readily and effortlessly” (source). Then why on desktops are there dictionaries, thesaurus, and grammar guides. Most Americans will probably say they are fluent in English, but those that are reading this ask them to define defenestrate* for you.

Chances are unless they have advanced education or something, they will not know what that means.

Maybe to be fluent, thet need to be able to talk for some amount of time. But what would be a reasonable amount? I am 22 years old, English is my native language. I know bits of others, but the other day somebody asked me something general, like my name, and I just gave them a blank stare for a few moments. Wouldn’t a plain answer flow out like the definition?

Maybe there are studies that investigate this, and I just have no idea where to look for such things. I just got aggervated hearing like four people saying how they were fluent. I just wanted to say “ok, translate: [insert a crazy phrase] for me.”

*defenestrate: to throw out of a window. (I have three ‘words of the day’)

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58 Responses

  1. That sounds like a good way to process what you’ve just read or learned—good technique, Ryan. It’s like meditation, I take it?

  2. Nope, I usually do it when I need to think during a math problem. I can see the numbers move or to the graph that goes with the equation. Basically I just stare off, zone and concentrate.

  3. Darn, WordPress keeps going into a black hole and I keep losing my comment. I wanted to ask if this was a skill you were born with. It’s pretty amazing.

    Earlier message captured by coComment: ‘That’s an amazing skill. You should teach folks how to do it. Was this a skill you trained your mind to having, or were you born with it?’

  4. Well I have always been good at math. Back it n the day I couldn’t use the computer effectively, because there weren’t programs to do it. So I had to track osmetimes multiple variables and equations at once. So I could just focus and do the problem.

  5. Very impressive talent. I used to be pretty good and just got more into the arty stuff when I was around 15 or 16.

  6. Thanks. You are talking to a computer/engineering guy that’s majoring in liberal arts. So my range is wide.

  7. Ryan,i won’t argue with you on that one because it will take long till one of us will let go.
    Training your brain to remember , teaches you how to best recall information and also means that you don’t let your brain fall asleep.
    Think about it.

  8. What do you mean argue with me?
    But what do you mean train it? By doing something over and over again? But by doing the repeatitive things, doesn’t mean you are training your brain forever. You are just committing it to your brain, not opening a new void like you are saying.

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