Language has been such a key component for us to stay engaged with our Vietnamese culture. There’s so much richness that comes from knowing traditions, communicating with our elders, and Vietnamese history through the Vietnamese lens (and not just the American) perspective.
Understandably the four of us have different fluency levels with our Vietnamese. For some of us who’ve practiced consistently and constantly, this translates to a very solid comprehension and ease with the language. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those of us whose language skills have atrophied and are now back to learning grammar basics (but nonetheless practicing, haha). We want to promise you, no matter where you are with your language skills, we’re right there with you and cheering you on!
With that we wanted to briefly discuss three aspects of fluency that we found from Duolingo:
1. Defining Fluency
Fluency consists of language skills and language knowledge. Language skills include speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Language knowledge consists of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and conversational rules.
2. The Myth of Fluency
While both language skills and language knowledge weigh heavily into determining language fluency, the inherent truth is that fluency is a myth. It’s more about one’s personal language goals and how one goes about progressing towards them. Given this, fluency can look different for everyone. For example, language fluency for someone learning conversational Vietnamese will look very different than someone trying to learn Vietnamese used in folk poetry. Given this, fluency really comes down to your goals.
3. Key Aspect of Communication
At the end of the day, ask yourself: are you able to express yourself in the way you would like to? If you are able to express your needs, we would say that you’re doing well with fluency and you should be proud that you’ve utilized your vocabulary kit well!
We’ve also found that fluency changes from day to day depending on exposure. Therefore, we constantly research and learn. Sometimes we need a reminder of the language structure, which we all agree that Langfocus on YouTube does well. Other times we review Vietnamese Last Name Pronunciation with Van Vu, from which we immediately recognize that we speak a mix of what’s considered Northern and Southern Vietnamese accents. Through it all, we’re growing our individual knowledge bank around the Vietnamese language, and in doing so, we find that it gives us more footing in the world as we are defining our own individual fluency goals.
Thank you for joining us in Book 2 of Growing up Nguyễn. We hope you stay connected with us as we continue to share our stories.
Growing Up Nguyễn is a story of four siblings holding onto our identity while fulfilling our parents’ dreams: the blessings and challenges of being Nguyễn in America.