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    Will you actually achieve near-native fluency with a language degree? I was reading some older threads where people have said a language degree is only a grounding.

    Any thoughts?
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    Near native fluency?

    I bloody wish.
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    The thing is, you can get very good doing a degree, but absolutely the only way to achieve "near-native" fluency is to completely immerse yourself in the culture of a country where that language is spoken, for a long time - and I mean much longer than the year abroad in your third year.

    It's a common misconception that language graduates are fluent, but that's ridiculous when you think about it, because people would get near perfect marks on all their language papers, and that doesn't happen. With enough work, however, you can become fluent enough to get by and express almost anything you need to, albeit in a slightly bumbling way a lot of the time...
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    (Original post by eleri)
    The thing is, you can get very good doing a degree, but absolutely the only way to achieve "near-native" fluency is to completely immerse yourself in the culture of a country where that language is spoken, for a long time - and I mean much longer than the year abroad in your third year.

    It's a common misconception that language graduates are fluent, but that's ridiculous when you think about it, because people would get near perfect marks on all their language papers, and that doesn't happen. With enough work, however, you can become fluent enough to get by and express almost anything you need to, albeit in a slightly bumbling way a lot of the time...
    i was visiting my friend at edinburgh uni the other day, and she knows this greek guy who's studying there as well, and talking to him just made me really worried about actually talking to people on my year abroad. i mean like, trying to make a joke and getting the words wrong or having to stop half way through and then everyone thinks you're a twonk / has no idea what you're going on about / gets the wrong end of the stick and it all goes very very bad and they end up just not wanting to talk to you coz it takes too much effort...

    :confused: :confused:
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    (Original post by eleri)
    The thing is, you can get very good doing a degree, but absolutely the only way to achieve "near-native" fluency is to completely immerse yourself in the culture of a country where that language is spoken, for a long time - and I mean much longer than the year abroad in your third year.

    It's a common misconception that language graduates are fluent, but that's ridiculous when you think about it, because people would get near perfect marks on all their language papers, and that doesn't happen. With enough work, however, you can become fluent enough to get by and express almost anything you need to, albeit in a slightly bumbling way a lot of the time...
    Agreed. You can get to a pretty decent level if you really make an effort during your year abroad (as eleri said, you have to immerse yourself, so no hanging around other English people!), but to achieve near-native fluency is very difficult. I got a distinction for my spoken French in Finals and I would still not have considered myself "near-native" - and I think universities recognise this.
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    Fluency is a very interesting topic of discussion.

    i mean, at what point can you say "i am now fluent"? what does "fluent" actually mean? if you think about it, we can't really say we are even fluent in english, since we don't know every single word in the dictionary, do we? does this mean we can be a bit 'lenient' with how the word "fluency" is used?

    in my opinion, the only real way you can become 'fluent' in any language is if you live there for a very long time (say, about 5 years or more)

    if you have heard of Stephen Krashen's theory of second language acquisition, it's very interesting.

    According to him, there are two ways of acquiring a second language: the 'acquired' way, and the 'learned' way

    The 'acquired system' or 'acquisition' is the product of a subconscious process very similar to the process children undergo when they acquire their first language. It requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concentrated not in the form of their utterances, but in the communicative act.

    The 'learned system' or 'learning' is the product of formal instruction and it comprises a conscious process which results in conscious knowledge 'about' the language, for example knowledge of grammar rules.

    According to Krashen 'learning' is less important than 'acquisition'.
    and i agree with him if i'm honest.
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    If you're exposed to different languages whilst you are a young child [and your brain is still developing] you are much more likely to become fluent in that language if you learn it in the future, even if you go years without using it throughout your childhood.
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    You can. It depends on how dedicated you are. I am almost perfectly fluent in English and I'm German. I have never spent more than a couple of months in an English speaking country, which equals your year abroad. However, I have just always wanted to be able to speak English really well. Ever since I was little. I learned it in school and I was able to pretty much understand everything and articulate myself rather well by the time I was 13, when I had only learnt it for 2 years and that's at high school level! You could still really tell I wasn't a native speaker tho. I went on my year to the US when I was 17, by then, people weren't able to tell I wasn't American, nor are they today, really. When I was in England 2 weeks ago, everyone thought I was from the states. You might be able to tell I am not a native speaker when I am nervous or when I have to write very academic essays etc, but in general conversation, I am very good. I got there simply by wanting to, by reading loads and continuously watching American movies. It's doable, but not by simply studying a language, you have to really take it in and love it
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    (Original post by linguist786)
    According to Krashen 'learning' is less important than 'acquisition'.
    and i agree with him if i'm honest.
    From my own experience, I agree as well. I don't think I would have mastered English so well if I haven't come here to absorb it all in and instead stayed in China being taught it formally at school. It's better also because you're exposed to everyday usage and slang words. I have a friend who went to Latin America with only a Spanish phrase book and within months he was brilliant with the language!
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    (Original post by Eidothea)
    From my own experience, I agree as well. I don't think I would have mastered English so well if I haven't come here to absorb it all in and instead stayed in China being taught it formally at school. It's better also because you're exposed to everyday usage and slang words. I have a friend who went to Latin America with only a Spanish phrase book and within months he was brilliant with the language!
    thank you for this reply! finally someoene who agrees with mexx
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    I would say no. I do a languge myself (Arabic) where all of us will be glad if we can sort of understand a few pages of an Arab newspaper after 4 years, but I also know many students ho do European languages and particularly among those who study German I must say definitely no. It depends, however, a lot on your own work, on whether you are starting a language ab inito, and how much you make use of your year abroad. If you keep away from other British students abroad, only talk to locals and refuse to speak English with them, you will make much more progress than if you spend your year abroad the same way as in England.
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    Obviously depends on each person too. But generally, the more time you can spend in a place where the language is spoken, speaking to native speakers, the better you're going to be. And putting in the effort beforehand. I wish I'd done more language work in my first uni year, but meh
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    Almost all foreigners I meet that have fluent English recommend watching movies. I think that is one way of greatly improving your language skills. And honestly, I think it is possible to become fluent by the end of a degree if you put enough in. I definitely plan to be fluent in French, and am on course for that right now (I have been living in France, though...) Good luck linguists!
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    (Original post by Ludivine)
    Almost all foreigners I meet that have fluent English recommend watching movies. I think that is one way of greatly improving your language skills. And honestly, I think it is possible to become fluent by the end of a degree if you put enough in. I definitely plan to be fluent in French, and am on course for that right now (I have been living in France, though...) Good luck linguists!
    I think though there is a difference between fluency and native fluency. Many people for example are fluent in English but you will always hear a certain foreign accent. It is the same in most ther languages. Watching filds though is very good, and even better are daily series & co. where you will learn the langauge that is spoken daily in the streets. A Chines friend of mine learned German like this. It is also good to read stuff in the foreign language about topics which interest you, for example when I learned english in school I had friends from England who sent me every week music magazines and articles about my favourite pop band Boyzone, and of course I had a massive motivation to understand every single word in every article. Right now I try to read the news in Arabic every day, which also helps to learn how to say things in a foreign language, even if it only teaches you small expressions or way of how to express things in the foreign language.
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    (Original post by mauritius)
    I think though there is a difference between fluency and native fluency. Many people for example are fluent in English but you will always hear a certain foreign accent. It is the same in most ther languages. Watching filds though is very good, and even better are daily series & co. where you will learn the langauge that is spoken daily in the streets. A Chines friend of mine learned German like this. It is also good to read stuff in the foreign language about topics which interest you, for example when I learned english in school I had friends from England who sent me every week music magazines and articles about my favourite pop band Boyzone, and of course I had a massive motivation to understand every single word in every article. Right now I try to read the news in Arabic every day, which also helps to learn how to say things in a foreign language, even if it only teaches you small expressions or way of how to express things in the foreign language.
    Well, when I say fluent, I'm not at all referring to accent. My French accent will never sound exactly native, however good it is, but I would still consider myself fluent if I could speak just as does a native other than in terms of pronounciation. In fact, I think having an accent is rather endearing in most cases and it doesn't bother me at all. The French people I have met have at worst commented that my accent is "cute".
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    i think you can become fluent but native fluency is slightly harder as the majority of people who are taught a language lear it textbook this means that when you do go to the country slang words you often do not understand and so you are no completely fluent. for example in my year there is someone who is from south africa and engligh is there second language she speaks engligh perfectly well but we will use words such as rate or other terms and they lose what we are on about as they were never taught the words
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    I'm now in my second year in England (now in the upper 6th) - I'm German. THe funny thing was that last year when the new school year began I'd already been a year in England, and I swear nobody suspected that I was non-English I can even imitate the chav-English sometimes... But anyway, people do ask me whether I'm foreign, but that's only cause I'm half-Asian and look like it. But generally people would think I'm English, or if they knew me better that I'd gone to an international school beforehand. Which is so not true, but hey!
    It clearly depends on the motivation and desire to master the language. I know quite a lot of German people in my school who've been to international schools before, but still haven't quite gotten rid off their German accent (which I find hilarious at some point - no offence :p:). I really badly wanted to acquire the British accent and learn English - so I guess that also helped me with everything!
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    (Original post by Ludivine)
    Well, when I say fluent, I'm not at all referring to accent. My French accent will never sound exactly native, however good it is, but I would still consider myself fluent if I could speak just as does a native other than in terms of pronounciation. In fact, I think having an accent is rather endearing in most cases and it doesn't bother me at all. The French people I have met have at worst commented that my accent is "cute".
    And, I can tell you all that her Swedish accent is more than cute.
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    my french teacher has been here for like 8 years, and she's pretty much native-ish, but we still have to point stuff out to her, and she cant pronounce some words properly (malaya - malaria)
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    My Spanish teacher has been here 5 years, and she still pronounces 'drugs' as 'drags'. Another Spanish teacher has been here 20 years, and although speaks without mistakes, still has her strong Peruvian accent.
 
 
 
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