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How to overcome the fluency gap: when you don’t speak a language well enough to explain yourself

You may know it: one of those moments in a meeting when you want to make a suggestion, but you don’t speak the language well enough to explain your idea. We call this a fluency gap.

Mastering a language fluently

A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. Does this sound familiar to you? They are the six language levels of the European Reference Framework of the CEFR. We use this frame of reference to assess a course participant’s language level in terms of speaking, writing, listening and reading.

What do these language levels mean? The A-levels are about self-reliance, the B-levels are about professional language use, with a C-level you are ‘near-native’, or advanced. Depending on your position and type of work, you will need B1 or B2 in the spoken language to cope well in a working environment.

A fluency gap at work

If you have a fluency gap at work, you will feel less comfortable in everyday conversations, meetings and other team situations.

This can be very uncomfortable for people as they can feel excluded, causing them to drop out of social situations. But there are also consequences for the team and the employer that arise from fluency gaps. Misunderstandings may arise, or the commitment, or competencies of the person in question, may be questioned. When, in the end, there is only a language barrier.

It is therefore important to recognise the language barrier as a problem, and to do something about it. A person who has sufficient command of the language in which he or she works is more self-confident and feels more comfortable in the workplace. This increases commitment to the organisation and improves performance.

How do you bridge a fluency gap?

Do you want to bridge your fluency gap? Or help your colleagues do so? Then a business language course is a good idea.

At Language Partners, we help 2500 course participants improve their language skills every year. We have been doing this for more than 50 years. When a student comes to us, we first conduct an extensive intake. In this way, we test the student’s current language level and map out what level he/she needs in order to function properly. Based on this, we make a proposal as to what type of training would suit the course member best.

Would you like to know more about recognising and bridging a fluency gap? Then get in touch with us!

Paul Van Zanten
Paul is an American intercultural communications professional living in the Netherlands and connecting with his Dutch roots. With a passion for travel, as well as gaining new perspectives and experiences, Paul aims to further his growth, as well as that of others at Language Partners.

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