Remember when you first decided to venture out on this journey to create multilingual kids? Regardless of whether it was 8 years ago or yesterday, my guess is that you had a reason and a goal for where they would end up.
So what was your reason? Did you want them to communicate with family, travel with ease or have better career opportunities? Maybe you wanted them to be able to learn languages easier later in life or you simply wanted them to experience the cognitive benefits of a bilingual brain. Whatever your reason, they would need fluency in the language, right?
….but what does fluency even mean? It might not be what you expect.
Fluency is defined as 'the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately'. The definition doesn't say anything about speaking or writing like a native speaker. It also doesn't mention anything about how much language has to be spoken or written easily and accurately to qualify as enough.
I want you to let go of the idea that native-like fluency is the only way to define success and think of fluency like it’s on a fluid scale, a hill to be climbed. It’s not always the destination but the journey that matters most. You start from the beginning and climb up gathering skills as you go, skills that are useful to have but also build on each other to help you ultimately reach your goal. These skills are your fluency.
It grows as you acquire more and regardless of where you stop, you still have some skills and some fluency.
We put such a strong emphasis on having a native level of fluency that we forget about all of the wonderful things that lower levels of fluency can achieve for us. You can travel with ease, hold a job, read a book, completely understand an age appropriate show and even experience cognitive benefits all without having a native level of fluency.
Don't get me wrong....there is nothing wrong with your goal being to achieve native-like fluency BUT it is absolutely ok if that's not your end goal.
So tell me, how fluent are they? What can they do with their language skills right now?
p.s. If you’re interested in specific definitions of the different levels of fluency, I recommend looking into CEFR. CEFR is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and is the international standard for describing a person’s abilities in a language. I love this framework because it makes it so easy to understand our fluency level but it also does an amazing job of helping us understand what we can do with each level of fluency too. You can read all about each of the 6 levels of fluency defined by CEFR here.
Hey! I'm Bridgette!