Fluency

There are as many posts in the blogosphere about fluency as there are languages in the world. Some organizations have tried to codify fluency and set some kind of standard. I suppose there’s a use to that but all the definitions of fluency I saw left me wanting.

I think of my experiences with Spanish and English. I can certainly say that I have mastered both these languages. Sure, I speak English with a Mexican accent and I speak Spanish with a Northern Mexican accent but still, I can manipulate these two languages at will. I don’t have to think in order to use either in sophisticated ways; my vocabulary on either language is huge.

So as I struggle with Japanase (it’s only been about 6-7 weeks since I began studying it), I know what mastery of a language feels like and I know that by the end of October, I will be far from mastering Japanese. But will I be fluent? Last night I read a definition of fluency on a language blog that I really liked. This guys defines fluency as being able to speak the language without struggling to come up with what to say. By that standard, I doubt that I will be fluent.

I am not disappointed however because there are many other things I will have gained by the end of October by attempting to learn Japanese in three months. I have for example, began to form a methodology to learn a new language. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there are no shortcuts. You have to study. You have to strive to understand the structure of the language. You have to learn many verbs and you have to understand how to conjugate them. You have to put in the effort.

I also have gained some confidence that I am, at my age, able to learn a new language, thus demolishing the myth that only children can learn a new language. I predict that by the end of this year, I will be able to hold a conversation in Japanese spontaneously.

Also, I have tried a number of language learning methods, most very superficially I must admit, and for me, Pimsleur is the winner. I have now began to save money to buy the Pimsleur materials for learning Arabic, Chinese, and Vietnamese. For the European languages I plan to study, I will do fine with YouTube videos and other resources on the web.

I am so excited by the prospect of widening the scope of the things I will be able to read and understand and by the many movies and songs I will be able to enjoy in their original language.

And now, I will do what has become a past time of mine. I will list the list of languages I plan on learning:

Japanese
Chinese (Mandarin)
Vietnamese
Arabic
Portuguese
Italian
German
French

I think I will start learning Italian as soon as I make my first Japanese video, which will happen soon.

Thank you! Gracias! Arigato!

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