Being Bilingual vs. Being Fluent

Being Bilingual vs. Being Fluent

What’s the difference between being bilingual and being fluent in a language? Anyone who has worked to become fluent in a second language can tell you that being fluent in a second language and being bilingual are not the same thing  The Accredited Language Services provided some clarity on common labels which are included in the summary below:

  • Basic: The knowledge of vocabulary words, ability to speak simple phrases or sentences; elementary reading and writing skills.
  • Conversant: An intermediate level of language where you may be skilled in carrying through conversations, but there is greater formality and less familiarity compared to a native and fluent speaker; reading and writing skills may or may not be at the same level.
  • Fluent: The ability to speak the language near perfect (almost like a native), but may require more concentration to communicate thoughts, idioms, and slang; advanced reading and writing skills.
  • Native Speaker: This applies to the first language you learned; the one that dominated your youth, and therefore the language you primarily choose to think, read, and write in.
  • Bilingual: The ability to use two languages with equal fluency; often times this term is misused as you may be a native speaker of one language and only fluent or conversant in the second.

Fluency in another language is almost like riding a bike where it almost becomes second nature but may take a second to remember again. For those who are fluent in another language may need to occasionally refresh themselves on when to use certain words or grammar rules. However, being bilingual means you can think in either language easily with little or no mistakes. 

Are you bilingual or fluent in a language? Comment below and share with us. 

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