Get By, Fluent or Bilingual

Get by, fluent or bilingual? What’s the difference? Fluency – what does it mean? Is it the language or is it also the culture, values and beliefs? And what is the key?

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Get by, fluent or bilingual? What’s the difference? 

Fluency – what does it mean?  The definition of scales and levels is determined by the Council of Europe. 

Levels are divided into 3 basic categories, A, B and C and then subdivided further.  

I am apparently bilingual (French), I was quadrilingual, (French,  Spanish and Italian) although there are days when I have strong doubts!  I lived and worked in France for the last 14 years, my OH (other half) was Breton, all my friends were French, I went to University in France and have worked for several French companies over the years.  However, when I am tired or have been working between 3 or 4 different languages all day, I still forget things and end up with blanks in all languages.  I don’t equate my bilingualness with genuine fluency YET – I’m still working on that one, but since I have  ”seen the light”, boy, has it made a difference! 

My kids are  genuinely fluent, real 24 carat chameleons, they change totally when they change language…  They are 100% bilingual Spanish, words, accent, mentality, physical movement, actions, tone of voice, laugh. You wouldn’t even know they were English born and bred once they start.  I have even had Spanish people (from Andalucia) commenting to me (not knowing they were my children) how it is unusual to have blond Andalucians, thinking that they really were their own kith and kin… When Ben and Lucy speak Spanish, their blood becomes Spanish – all changes and for them, it is as natural as breathing – they don’t even notice they have changed languages!  

Why and how can they do it so totally naturally and so completely, when so many of us cannot? 

One advantage they had was they were young when we moved to Spain so they learnt by osmosis, they had no preconceived ideas about Spain, the Spanish, culture, beliefs or anything.  They  just went to a new school, made friends and got on with life as it is lived in Spain!  Such an easy life!  No inhibitions, no lack of confidence, no doubts.  They wanted to play and have fun so they did!  The best way to do that was, fit in… so they learnt everything naturally and perfectly…  They modelled themselves on all the children around them. 

Let me repeat that phrase.  THEY MODELLED THEMSELVES ON …  that is the KEY to becoming fluent, modelling yourself on the real people. Children don’t have inhibitions, barriers, doubts.  They don’t analyse, stress or worry about whether they will say something correctly… they just want to make friends and they know the best way is to be like the people they are making friends with!  

Now isn’t that an excellent concept for doing business successfully!  As they say, out of the mouths of babes!!  

Now don’t get hung up on the fact they were in Spain so they had untold advantages, that was just mechanics!  The untold advantage they had was their outlook, their mentality and above all their natural instinct to model and mimic in actions, words and beliefs.  

There you have it, it is in your mental outlook, get that right and you too can unleash THE KEY to genuine fluency –Modelling and Mimicry! 

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