From casual conversations to speeches in front of large crowds, fluidity in spoken delivery can determine whether someone is understood or leaves their listeners scratching their heads. For language learners of any type, is it possible to increase conversational fluency by simply speaking with even, fluid pacing?
Fluid language is the ability to reduce repeated syllables, gaps, and pauses while speaking with consistent pacing. It increases the perception of conversational fluency that others have about your language skill. In essence, fluid language can noticeably increase your conversational fluency.
There are many questions that arise from the connection between perceived fluency in speech and fluid language usage. How does one know if their language is fluid? How can you increase fluidity in conversational languages? These and others will be discussed. So, let’s dive in!
- 1 What Is Fluidity In Speaking?
- 2 How Do You Improve Speech Fluidity?
- 3 Obstacles To Fluid Language
- 4 The Final Word On Fluid Language…
What Is Fluidity In Speaking?
If you listen to professional speakers in any language, you will usually find a good example of fluid language. Comedians especially have very precise pauses and timing to give their punchlines that extra ‘kick’. Yet, what exactly is fluid language or speech?
Using few unnecessarily repeated syllables, only purposeful pauses, and a steady cadence is what is meant by fluid language. Different languages have unique rhythms of their own, but applying those rhythms consistently and constantly while speaking is the key to fluidity in speech.
Many think it takes an expert command of a language in order to produce it reliably consistent and fluid. But this is not the case.
We will go into tips and many helpful aids later, but it suffices for now to say that fluid language is achievable at levels of high beginner through advanced. Native speakers can even have trouble with fluidity, so it is not necessarily reliant on fluency levels.
Let’s look at a few of the things that can make language less fluid. This can help gain a better picture.
All About Stuttering, Pausing, And Making Mistakes
There are several things that can hinder fluidity when speaking. Most of them like pausing, repetition, and general difficulty communicating revolve around stuttering.
Stuttering is most prevalent in children ages 2 to 5 years old as they learn to speak in public. These same issues can occur again in language learners as they experience the anxiety of expressing themselves.
There are some key signs that someone is suffering from stuttering in the stages of learning to speak.
|Symptoms Of Stuttering||Those Affected Most Often|
|Hard to start speaking||Children, Language Learners|
|Broken words and pauses||Children, Language Learners|
|Anxiety about talking||Children, Language Learners|
|Unable to communicate||Children, Language Learners|
Anxiety has been linked with most types of stuttering in children and adults. This anxiety can be brought on by learning to use a second language or acquiring the first one.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stuttering or stammering is considered a ‘fluency’ disorder. This means that this lack of fluid production of speech and natural cadence can negatively affect fluency and thus make being understood more difficult.
For those listening it becomes harder to understand and for the speaker it becomes hard to communicate. This brings on even more anxiety of its own. Sometimes this can become a compounded problem that is self-fueled.
Let’s look a bit at this relationship between fluidity in language and fluency.
Fluid Language Vs Fluent Language
A frequent mistake many make that hinders fluid language is mixing up fluidity with fluency. So, what is the difference between fluid language and fluent language?
Fluent language is the proper use of words in conjunction with grammar and commonly used phrases to communicate in most situations with little time to prepare. Fluid language is the ability to use these words and phrases correctly without undue pausing or repetition.
Fluidity, like fluency, comes mainly from many hours of practice. Though fluid speech refers more to the manner in which the content is delivered, while fluent speech covers the accuracy and timeliness of the content spoken.
We have all heard speeches that contain too many dramatic pauses, a speaker searching for the right words, or repetitions of sounds or words. In a monologue scenario this is very noticeable.
Yet, when having a conversation, the listener may not know why it is hard to understand the person he or she is speaking with. Though they may have adequate command of the content they are trying to convey, inordinate pausing, extra sounds, accents, and repetition by someone in a conversation can lead to misunderstanding.
Most of the time, making mistakes while learning a language is looked over and not a problem in the overall conversation. On the other hand, even those that are fluent in a particular language can become harder to understand if fluid speech is not developed.
To read more articles related to fluid speech…
- What Is My Native Language? (Answered)
- How Many Languages Should I Learn? (Revealed)
- Bilingualism: Can You Think In Two Languages? (Revealed)
How Do You Improve Speech Fluidity?
If fluid language is not the same as fluent language, are there ways to develop it along side of fluency? The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”
Improving fluid speech is not only a separate skill, but a fairly straight forward process. Like developing fluency, enunciation, and proper accent, fluid speech has its own set of fundamental elements that a learner should practice.
We are referring here to the spoken language. Many of the ways that fluid speech can be developed is by simply following some general tips, and practicing with other speakers of that language. Preferably, this will be done with native speakers, but anyone with a good command of the language will do.
Can I Develop More Fluid Language On My Own?
So, we now know that fluid language can be practiced and improved. What about doing it without help? Well, you could feasibly do it like many professional speakers do and repeat a memorized speech upwards of 50 times into mirrors and cameras.
Yet, that would only make that specific speech, those phrases, and a specific monologue style fluid. What we need is ‘on the fly’ fluidity. So can that be developed?
A more fluid language delivery can be developed with dedicated practice with preferably native speakers of a target language. There are several steps that can be taken as well to increase fluidity. Some include: slowing down, mimicking, and annunciation.
Here is a short list of some of the most important techniques to developing fluidity in your native or other acquired languages…
- Slow down your delivery. Slowing down gives your brain and involuntary reactions a chance to catch up with your intended meaning. In passing by someone walking the other way this may be less applicable. In most cases though, you can slow down your delivery quite a lot, and people will wait.
- Practice, practice, practice. This doesn’t mean by yourself. You need to practice with as many people as you can, as often as you can, and in your target language. Again, this is preferable with native speakers of the intended language.
- Mimic other fluid speakers. A great way to become more fluid is by using the techniques and tendencies of those that do it well. Try to copy the cadence and rhythm of native speakers. This will not only help you sound more native, but can help you to be understood more often.
- Speak the language as intended. Some languages are harsh with abrupt endings to words and phrases (German, Russian). Others meld one sound into another in attempts to make seamless transitions (French). Still others have a ‘sing song’ rhythm to them (Swiss German, Swedish).
- Annunciate more clearly. This causes you to slow down and makes you more intelligible at the same time. There is a lot more to be said about annunciation as it relates to acquiring a more native accent. It suffices here to say, practice pronouncing the words correctly and fully.
- Make mistakes and be patient with yourself. The only person that doesn’t make mistakes when using language is a silent one. When learning a language to fluency or developing fluidity, making mistakes in real time and learning from them simply cannot be replaced. It turns out that it is the single most important element of fluency and fluidity.
Can I Become Fluent and Fluid With Duolingo Or Other Learning Apps?
Duolingo is one of the most downloaded and used free language learning apps in the world today. Does this mean it can be used to develop fluid speech in a target language?
Duolingo is a useful tool in learning vocabulary and phrases in the beginning stages of language acquisition, but it does little to help develop or improve live fluid speech. Though it helps many beginners develop words and phrases, live interaction with natives is required for fluidity.
Like many others, our family has used Duolingo when learning second and third languages. It is a secondary tool that offers much needed variety while trying to keep your brain immersed in a target language.
The problem Duolingo suffers from is its lack of live interaction and its reliance on static situational dialogue that is neither spontaneous nor authentic.
It has its place, and is a fun and useful tool. It just is not suited to developing fluid speech and shouldn’t be used in hopes of doing so.
Can I Become Fluent and Fluid With Benny Lewis’ Methods?
Benny “The Irish Polyglot” is a household name in our family. His methods have helped us learn our other languages more than most any we have tried. With that said, can these methods help fluid speech development?
Benny Lewis’ methods can most definitely help anyone develop a more fluid speech in a native or acquired language. His process is based primarily on how to learn a language by speaking the language from ‘day one’. Speaking practice is the number one way to develop fluidity.
I could not recommend his programs more and if you are looking to increase your fluid speech in a particular language, much of his material covers techniques that can be applied to any language.
Obstacles To Fluid Language
Fluid language is not measured on a completely objective scale. Some will naturally have more fluid use of grammar and vocabulary than others, but there are some basic hurdles that nearly everyone can look out for.
Let’s look at a few of the basic ones…
How Do I Stop Saying Umm And Uh?
Saying umm and uh is a common problem in native languages as well as second ones. It comes from anxiety, distraction, memory problems, or simply not planning out consciously or subconsciously what you want to say.
One way that Benny Lewis (link to his helpful material above) addresses the problem of umms and uhs is two fold…
- Don’t over stress about it. You will become less anxious when speaking over time. This will in turn reduce the use of these filler syllables or words.
- Use transition words that are very common in most every language. He has lists of these that are very helpful in some of his language specific material.
Some of the tips above can also help, especially slowing down speech to keep your delivery and brain in sync.
Why Do People Mumble?
Many people can give a greater sense of fluidity by simply speaking up. Mumbling is not only a conversation hinderance, but it also makes others think the speaker is not confident in themselves or what they have to say.
People mumble for several reasons including low self confidence, insecurity in what they are speaking about, and fear of making mistakes. These normally do not stem from physical ailments or disabilities, but come from psychological issues.
People that frequently mumble will have a hard time with fluidity. One of the main reasons is the constant interruption of those listening as they ask for things said to be repeated.
Fluidity also gets easier with confidence in the language and the subject spoken about. Anxiety and low confidence can cause both mumbling and low fluidity when speaking.
Perfectionism Is The Enemy of Language Fluidity
Perfectionism is the rigid adherence to correct form or performance even when the situation doesn’t necessitate such precision. Mistakes are not only made all the time when verbally communicating, but they are expected.
Learning and increasing in skill in a given ability usually happens by making and correcting mistakes. Anxiety can be artificially elevated when a speaker expects himself to perform without flaws or errors.
Embracing the inevitability of errors and realizing that people listening don’t actually mind them that much will bring fluidity much faster.
The Final Word On Fluid Language…
Fluidity is the proper pacing, rhythm, and consistency that can cause listeners to understand much easier. This is one of the things that can make a speaker seem more fluent than they actually are as well as help with confidence in the language used.
Confidence is an upward spiral in fluency, fluidity, and overall communication concerning second languages. This creates a perfect situation where fluid speech increases fluency and communication in general.
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