English fluency myths: Busted!
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!
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 ;)
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Most people lack confidence when they speak English. They are afraid to make mistakes and are embarrassed to speak in front of others.
This is because they have been taught English the wrong way!
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