Since I am doing a six month fluency challenge in Greek it is important to know how I will define fluency for the challenge. The dictionary gives a definition of “the ability to express oneself easily and articulately” and “the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately”. The word itself comes from the Latin word fluere which means to flow.
So I will simply define fluency as being able to speak and understand the language without holding back. That means being able to read newspaper articles, books, stories and being able to understand the main ideas that they are trying to convey as well as being able to have conversations with native speakers or fruitfully contributing to conversations. I also want to be able to order all of the services (housing, transport, food, etc.) and have no difficulty in asking for things which I need or helping other people out with directions, simple advice and so on. Above all, this fluency will also include me understanding all of the practical common grammatical forms (save for the archaic ones), so that whenever I see a dictionary entry for a word, I would know exactly what to do with it (how it can be used, how to conjugate it).
I realize that it would be better to have some reference point so I decided I will be aiming for at least level B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference For Languages. This is a framework made for Europeans to evaluate their language knowledge and this framework goes into CVs and other documents of this sort as a form of self-evaluation. It has six basic level which are as follows:
|A1||Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.|
|A2||Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.|
|B1||Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.|
|B2||Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.|
|C1||Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.|
|C2||Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.|
This level B2 is the first one that uses the word fluency and I would say that it is quite an achievable thing in six months of studying Greek that’s why I decided to go with it. It would allow me to enjoy all of the benefits of knowing the language and still would not require me go out of my mind trying to achieve them. I was thinking of aiming for level C1 instead and it might be possible that I will land in at least the lower C1 but for now I will consider the goal achieved if I will have B2 if nothing else.
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Just to let you know, B2 is quite a tall order but it’s good you are using some sort of benchmark rather than than simply leaving ‘fluency’ as a goal which is very vague. If you haven’t already, you should check out the ELP ( http://tinyurl.com/y8rka6b )
I have read something like that a while before. It doesn’t seem like B2 is that hard to get. I think I have around that for Portuguese (I can read books and understand the sense well) and it was only around 5 months and I was less serious about the preparation study. Even if it were, that’s why it’s a challenge.
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