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Language Fluency – Stu-stu-stutter

Posted on: 17. März 2009

Another topic that usually bugs me when it comes to how well someone’s English really is – You can’t write in a CV „but my English is really, really good!“, so you have to point out the fact that you study the language, and that you have been abroad, and that you have an excellent command of the language, but anyone that’s not living behind the moon knows that most people write these things to embellish their own application. And believe me when I say, studying English at a German University does not mean you are a proficient speaker.

This language fluency however is mostly a matter of private anguish – when someone writes he has an excellent command of the English language, but he’s only so-so, that is still only an embellishment – he probably speaks well enough to be understood by anyone that speaks some form of English or another. And do not let my earlier statement  of the German Universities scare you – they all know how to speak English – it’s just that some of them do not do it on a level that I view to be mandatory given University standards – but they are all good enough to be understood.

However, a good language fluency (and added to that, a good vocabulary) helps the conversation with an English native speaker alot. If he knows you are more proficient than most Germans, he doesn’t have to rely on the tourist „speak slowly and point to the object you are reffering to“ trick – he can just talk normally, and in return he doesn’t have to wreck his brain to understand grammatically destroyed sentences. Heck, if you have been to the region the person lives in (or are just very good at imitation regional dialects and vocabulary) you might just fool him or her into believing that you are a fellow native speaker.

So, how do we aquire a good language fluency? One sure way (and probably the best) is just to visit an English-speaking country for more than just a few days, so that English is pretty much the only language you will speak for a while. However, if you do not plan on moving to an English-speaking country permanently, you have to practise your fluency (that is, in some form continue to talk in English) in order to keep up your high level of proficiency. One thing you should look out for, though: depending on how you spend your time abroad, your vocabulary / grammar might not keep up with your fluency – you might know how everything is pronounced and brought into context, but how to spell it, how to conjugate it, and what its synonyms are, is a mystery to you. So make sure that no aspects of the language are left behind.

Today I do not have further reading on the topic since I already went further on the subject then most sources on the net that I could find pertaining this topic – however, if you have links, personal stories, or just other comments, feel free to leave them!

-Moritz

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