Hello friends! 

If you’re here, you’re probably on your English learning journey, right?

And you probably have some misconceptions about what it means to be fluent in English.

That’s completely okay and understandable! Most of us were taught this, whether explicitly or implicitly! 

But, believing these myths will hinder your English learning journey and make learning English seem hard, boring, and unattainable. 

So, for the sake of making our English learning journey smoother, let’s unravel these myths together 💪 starting with…. 

1. If you’re fluent, you would never make mistakes

Many English learners seem to believe that they are not truly fluent until they can speak and write in English without mistakes, that they would get to a point where they would have perfect grammar and pronunciation. 

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, even native English speakers make mistakes occasionally! 

As for speaking, you will probably always retain a slight accent. Of course, you can learn to smooth it out, but having a slight accent is not a bad thing! It’s a part of your cultural identity. 

Even in English-speaking countries, such as in Australia, England, or the US, some native speakers still have a thick regional accent. 

So, making the occasional grammar or spelling mistakes or having a slight accent does not mean that you are not fluent. The important thing to do is just to keep going. Don’t let these mistakes deter you from learning further! Mistakes are how we learn! 

2. If you’re fluent, you would understand everything and everyone 

Trust me, occasionally you would not understand something, and that’s okay and completely normal, that happens to everyone! 

I often hear my students feel bad because they can’t understand the lyrics of a song, either they completely misheard the lyrics or they can hear the lyrics just fine, but they don’t understand the meaning behind it. 

Again, very normal, completely understandable! This happens to native speakers too! 

Also, with the latter problem, a lot of songs use lyrics that are not literal. That is, there is no right or wrong way to interpret the song. So don’t worry if you feel confused by it, that’s probably intentional! Often, songs are meant to invoke thoughts and usually people get different takeaways from the same song. 

You will also likely encounter situations where no matter how great your English is, you will still have difficulty understanding the conversation because it’s a completely new context with a very specific vocabulary (for example, a specific academic or work field). 

And sometimes, people just simply speak too fast! That also happens in your mother tongue, right? So don’t get discouraged by it! 

3. You’re either fluent or you’re not fluent 

Again, this could not be further from the truth! 

Saying that you’re either fluent or you’re not fluent is definitely an oversimplification! 

The truth is, it’s not so black and white. 

Ask yourself, how would YOU define fluency?

For us, fluency means that you are able to hold a meaningful conversation in that language. It’s not necessarily about knowing all the words, so it’s quite hard to measure one’s fluency. 

There’s actually a massive grey area between when your fluency starts to emerge and when you have become extremely proficient in English. 

Once you’ve passed the intermediate level, you probably have begun the ability to communicate in English, albeit with some difficulties. Some days, you might feel like you have gone down a level. 

Some words might begin to feel once again foreign but with consistency and diligence, these words will return to feel natural once again, and you’ll be able to have more and more ‘aha’ moments and make progress with your learning. 

We believe that this transition, from what felt foreign to what now feels natural and even unconscious is a cause for celebration. Even though you might still identify some gaps in your ability to communicate, we believe that at this stage, being called fluent is already well-deserved! 

Again, fluency is more of a spectrum than it is a concrete point. 

And sometimes, you simply forget certain words, it feels like it’s already at the tip of your tongue but you can’t for the love of anything holy remember what the word is! 

That happens to everyone! You shouldn’t count that against you! 

4. Once you’re fluent, you’re fluent for life 

That would be ideal, but sadly that simply isn’t the case! 

You NEED to use English consistently, otherwise, you will simply lose your fluency over time! 

It’s just like learning any other thing! 

For example, when you study clinical psychology, you might have learned all the theories, but if you’ve never actually put these theories into practice or never actually spoken with a client, then eventually you will start to forget everything you’ve learned.

Fluency demands lifelong learning! 

Trust me, there are always new things to learn and new vocabulary to acquire! 

It’s also important to truly get yourself used to all facets of English. For example, don’t only focus on the academic use of English. It’s certainly important, but to truly gain and more importantly retain fluency, you also need to understand and use informal or conversational English too! 

Not only is informal English more fun and enjoyable to learn and use, it will also give durability to your fluency since it’s much easier to use informal English in your daily life. Moreover, this will allow you to immerse yourself more in western pop culture!

5. You must study abroad or learn with natives to be fluent 

Studying abroad is definitely a great experience and you should definitely do it if you have the chance! But don’t bend over backward if you can’t afford it for the time being! It’s not necessary to study abroad to gain fluency! 

Of course, that does not mean that you can willy-nilly choose just about any course that’s, say, the nearest to your house! You still need to be careful when choosing an English course! We have created an article to help you choose the right place!   

You should also look for these signs in your English teacher! This will help ensure that your teacher will truly help you grow and develop your confidence in speaking English!

Back to the topic at hand, again, you don’t need to study abroad or learn with natives to achieve fluency! 

Trust me, I would know! I spent a few months studying in Australia and met some international students whose English was still at the elementary level and they could not participate in class because they didn’t know how to articulate their thoughts in English.

On the other hand, I’ve also met many Indonesian who have never set their feet overseas who speak English with remarkable fluency. 

So, don’t be discouraged if you can’t study overseas! You can do these to incorporate English into your daily life from anywhere in the world! 

6. Fluency means you speak with a native accent 

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “If only I could speak English with a perfect British or American accent, then I’d be truly fluent”? Well, my dear readers, it’s time to bust this myth wide open!

First off, let’s get one thing straight: having a native-like accent is impressive, sure, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of fluency!Now, let’s talk about what really matters – effective communication. You can have the most polished accent, but if you can’t get your point across, what’s the use? Fluency is about being able to chat with a friend, argue a point, tell a joke, or share a story. It’s about connection, not perfection!
So, if you find yourself stressing over not sounding like a native, take a step back. Embrace your accent. It’s a part of who you are. What’s more important is to focus on improving your ability to communicate – to share ideas, to listen, and to engage with others!

7. You need to start learning English young to become fluent

Sure, children have certain advantages when it comes to language learning, but adults have their own strengths too!
You have a better understanding of grammar structures (thanks to your first language), a stronger motivation, and let’s not forget, life experiences that children simply don’t have. All these can actually speed up your language learning process!

The beauty of learning, especially language learning, is that there’s no expiration date. Whether you’re in your twenties, forties, or even seventies, the doors to learning English are wide open! And here’s the kicker – as an adult, you’re more likely to have a clear motivation and goal for learning, which is a huge driving force!

Yes, learning English as an adult might come with its own set of challenges. But who doesn’t love a good challenge? It keeps things interesting, right? 

You might need to invest a bit more effort in pronunciation or grapple with grammar rules, but the sense of achievement you’ll feel when you’ve mastered them is unbeatable!

8. Fluency means being able to translate seamlessly 

First things first, let’s clear the air. Being fluent in English doesn’t mean you’re a walking, talking Google Translate. Fluency is about comfortably conversing, expressing ideas, and understanding others in a language – not about converting every word or phrase directly from your native language to English, or vice versa.

Each language has its own charm, its quirks, and idioms that don’t always play nice with direct translation. Ever tried translating a joke or a pun? It’s like trying to explain why a tomato is not a vegetable to a five-year-old. Some things just get lost in translation, and that’s perfectly fine!

When you’re fluent, your brain isn’t just swapping words from one language to another. It’s adapting ideas, expressions, and cultural nuances from one linguistic framework to another. It’s more about understanding the essence and context of what’s being said rather than finding word-for-word equivalents.

Even the most fluent speakers might stumble when it comes to translation. Why? Because languages are not mathematical equations. They are living, breathing entities, each with its unique way of shaping thoughts and experiences. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – sometimes, it just doesn’t work!
So, if you find yourself struggling to translate everything perfectly, breathe easy. You’re not alone. Language learning is not about achieving robotic precision but about embracing the fluid, often unpredictable nature of communication.

9. Fluency can be achieved quickly 

Have you ever stumbled upon an ad for a course, book, or program that promises you the moon, claiming to rocket your English fluency in just 2, 4, or 6 weeks? Sounds tempting, right? Like a magic pill for your language woes!
But if something is too good to be true, chances are, they probably are!
We live in a world that loves quick results. Instant noodles, same-day delivery, express checkouts. So, it’s no wonder that the idea of achieving fluency at warp speed grabs our attention. After all, who wouldn’t want to skip the hard work and get straight to the reward?

But here’s the scoop: when it comes to language learning, there’s no express lane. Fluency is more than just memorizing a bunch of words and phrases; it’s about understanding the culture, grasping the nuances, and being able to express your thoughts and feelings naturally. And let’s face it, that takes time.

Think of learning English like learning to play an instrument. You wouldn’t expect to be a piano maestro in a few weeks, right? 

It’s the same with languages. It’s about practice, mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and gradually improving. It’s about the journey, not just the destination!
So, the next time you see those flashy ads promising fluency in record time, take them with a grain of salt. Set realistic goals for yourself. Remember, it’s okay to take your time. Learning a language is a personal journey, and everyone’s pace is different!

10. Fluency means knowing all the grammar rules

Last but not least, many people seem to believe that fluency is synonymous with knowing every single grammar rule by heart. Let’s unpack this, shall we?

Picture this: You’re at a dinner party, chatting away in English, effortlessly hopping from topic to topic. Are you pausing mid-sentence to recall the present perfectt tense rules? Probably not. Fluency isn’t about having a grammar textbook wired into your brain. It’s about flowing conversation, being understood, and understanding others.

Sure, grammar is important. It’s the building blocks of language, helping us structure our sentences so they make sense. But here’s the kicker – it’s possible to be fluent and still mix up your tenses or dangle a participle here and there. Even native speakers do it!

Bottomline is, fluency is about using the language in real life, not just about memorizing the rules in your textbook! 


So, how did it go guys?

Did you believe any of these myths?

No shame if you did! Again, these myths are quite ingrained and taught to us whether explicitly or implicitly. 

Unlearning these myths is definitely a great first step towards a better English learning journey! 

And of course, we can help your English learning journey even smoother ;)

At IELC, we teach English the right way 

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IELC Academic Director