Episode 69: Functional But Not Fluent


13 May 2024

20 mins 40 secs

Season 4

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Probably all of us have, at one point or another, had a goal of being fluent in our target language(s). When we think of being fluent, we often think of easily speaking the language, not having to think about what we're going to say, and just being able to spontaneously use the words and grammar we've acquired. There's this weird place I've found myself in with German where I can use the language in all the spontaneous situations I find myself in living in a German-speaking country, and yet I'm not fluent. I am very functional in the language, and I do use it with ease in most situations. But I'm far from fluent.

This is a place on my language journey that's both exciting and frustrating. I'm excited to feel comfortable living in the country using the language. I'm frustrated because I can't fully express myself and be me in the language. I can function, but I don't feel like myself. I can't really showcase my personality, exhibit my intelligence, or converse about deep and meaningful things. Being functional but not fluent comes with a lot of complex thoughts and feelings, so in today's episode I start getting some of those thoughts out and guide a conversation that you can use as a starting point for your own unraveling of thoughts.

Being functional in a language is a huge milestone. Be proud of that, and don't lose sight of it when you focus on getting to fluency.

Links from this episode:
Episode 25: What Is Fluency, Anyway?
Episode 68: Planning, Confidence, and Reflection w/Bront'e Singleton of The Polyglot Fox
The Language Confident Project, by Emily Richardson

Where to find me:
Love, Joy, and Languages Blog
All podcast episodes can be found here.
Instagram: @love.joyandlanguages
X (Twitter): @LoveJoy_Lang