https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

When would you feel confident enough to tell people you speak another language?

Sometimes when I read that a famous person can speak more than one language, I like to go on YouTube to find footage or audio of that person speaking said-language. About half of the time I notice that it's not fluency, but rather a polite, "getting-by" sort of level of the language. (Sometimes with others, it's downright embarrassing.)

If I were to go by the standard that knowing extremely basic phrases means that, sure, I can speak another language, then okay, fine...I can speak five languages. But I'd be pretty mortified if someone tried to put me to the test with the four that aren't English.

Are you the type of person that informs people that you know another language even if you're not (yet) fluent?

Many of you might simply tell people that you're learning the language, or that you have partial knowledge. When do you think you'd reach a point before fluency when you can just simply state: "I speak [insert language here]."

August 16, 2019

209 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ehartz

I usually don't advertise speaking any other languages - because in my experience, people who aren't actively bi/multilingual usually overestimate what "knowing" a language means. They seem to think that it means you know every single word that you encounter and then judge harshly when they bring you some sort of technical document that you can't read/translate fluently on the spot (completely forgetting, apparently, that native English speakers often encounter English words they don't know and have to look up in a dictionary). My aunt spent years insisting that I should go work for the UN, because to her, "knowing" a language seemed to imply that I could seamlessly translate/interpret high-level diplomatic negotiations in real time (despite my repeated insistence to her that I didn't feel confident I could perform at that level even in my best languages, though I could certainly carry on a casual exchange about politics with an acquaintance in a bar or whatever).

When people question me about knowing a language, I generally try to remain pretty humble about my level of knowledge (even for languages in which others might consider me "fluent"). I think there are a lot of people who have high levels of language competency who do the same - after all, the more you know, the more you realize you still have to learn. Perhaps that's why people who are at a relatively lower level sometimes feel more confident in their abilities than those at a higher level.

Consequently, I don't think I've ever met any non-native speakers who boldly asserted "I'm fluent in Japanese!" who I would actually consider fluent. But I've met dozens of people who I've heard insist that their Japanese is not very good who I would consider fluent.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Antimodes

I am a non-native speaker of Japanese who has described myself as fluent to other non-natives who have asked me. Of course, I've lived in Japan for over 10 years, am married to a Japanese person who speaks no English, and have a graduate degree from a Japanese national university (whose program was conducted in Japanese, along with regular Japanese students). That said, if a Japanese person asks/says I speak Japanese well, I reply quite honestly 「まだまだ分からないことたくさんです」(There are many things I don't yet understand). In other words, I completely agree with what Ehartz wrote!

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndroidKanada

Well that's a real test. :) If you've been speaking Japanese in a marriage for 10 years and are still married, you're doing well. That's hard enough when you speak the same native language.

And I agree with ehartz: in second languages I will probably always describe myself as "learning" it.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ADQyQ

I dont know....maybe speaking different languages would make things easier....

(Kidding)

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiyalka2

No, actually, there is a lot of truth to it. Misunderstandings happen all the time in a partnership. When you are speaking the same language, you often assume you mean the same, even when you don't. With two different languages, you will take into consideration that there can be misunderstandings in the first place. This can make things easier. ;)

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yannis_Mantzaris

totally agree

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

I agree

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ghj7211

I'm always surprised at how those western people could be so fluent in Asian languages

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hoges.110

This is a good post. Have been wondering about this myself, lately. Have just decided to step over the threshold of uncertainty and say, "I speak German." Danke.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rain5379

i see no issue in saying that someone speaks a language in general, as it does not imply the level of fluency. but i would obviously wait until i am skilled in basic communication in a certain language.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ozarkmelody

I may mention that I am learning a third language, but I don't consider myself fluent until I can have a complicated conversation in that language without any difficulty and could handle a visit to the doctor in that language. For example, in either Spanish or English, I know the medical terminology well enough that a doctor doesn't have to stop and explain most things to me. Welsh on the other hand....a two year old would be more fluent than I am.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet

You would have a hard time finding a doctor who spoke Welsh and wasn't also fluent in English.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Taylor__Beck

you are an interesting person. How many languages can you speak at a conversational level?

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/german362117

totally agree with you my friend

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rain5379

I tend to categorize my language skills by "basic understanding", ability to communicate on a basic or more advanced level etc. In the beginning stages of learning a language where are fields of topics you dont know the words to yet, so oftentimes disclose that.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

I like the definition in the NZ census -"can hold a conversation about everyday things" - takes it beyond tourist phrases but doesn't expect you to be able to discuss solutions for world peace. It also means you have to be able to speak without a dictionary and understand a native speaker.

Under that definition, I'm there with Hungarian.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwbrand1

Under that definition, I'm there with Hungarian.

That's a great accomplishment! Well done. How long did it take you to achieve that?

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

I have just completed my 6th summer school (6 x 120hours) plus homework, study in NZ, and a lot of listening - and only recently speaking - with friends, relatives, and passers-by.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Simon299426

Good definition.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germalinga

That's a good aspiration for me to adopt too, thank you.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben163119

That is a very good way of thinking about it. I used to think that I wasn't fluent in anything really, but I think I can do what you said above in Spanish, Norwegian, and French, so I guess I might start telling people that when they ask! Thank you, takk, gracías, merci, grazie, arigato, obrigado, danke, and tack, have a lingot.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alwaysfresh

you are right Judit

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

Good definition. I might steal it. :D

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Simon299426

I work it out in levels. Native, fluent, competent and tourist level. Native means that you sound like you're from that country. Fluent means that you can talk about any topic and don't have to think about what you're saying, but you might make some grammatical mistakes and not sound like a native. Competent = you can have a good range of conversation and understand most of what you hear, but make mistakes and have to think about sentence structure etc. Tourist = I can order food in a restaurant, get a taxi etc and be understood, but won't understand a rapid fire conversation. Based on that, I have English (native), German, (fluent), Danish (fluent), Thai (competent), Italian (tourist) Spanish (tourist), Mandarin (tourist). Having fluent Danish also gives me a pretty good understanding of Norwegian and Swedish. I'm not comfortable enough saying that I'm at tourist level in Swahili, but will be in a few months' time. I only say that I speak anything above competent.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CatSamwise

I really like this categorization as well, and it is the most frequent I've seen in forms (usually job applications), although they change "tourist" to "basic".

Also, aside from meeting new people, the place were other languages are most important are job interviews - I've seen numerous job postings that target bilingual people, because the company is working in several countries and needs people who can use (speak, write, read) both languages. So when I answer this question, it's always with this in mind....

On the other side, I live in Italy, and as my Italian is only just up to competent I always look for people who can speak English. I usually get two replies: "No", which is fine and we manage; or "Just a little" proceeded by the person being practically fluent. So, don't cut yourself short, you're probably better than what you think :)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

Same here @cat

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

Out of those levels, which level do you think you can just declare that you speak another language?

Native is obvious -- and we all can't be native from everywhere, but if fluency is the goal, would it at least be accurate to say you speak the language even if you aren't yet fluent but can form sentences, grasp what's being said to you, and have fairly good pronounciation skills?

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aphmonica

That is a good categorization!

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fallingleaf_271

I like to say I speak 'a little' of the language when people ask me if I can speak it. For instance, when someone asks me 'Which languages can you speak?' (你會說什麼語言 ?) in Chinese, I say "我說一點兒中文, 一點兒挪威語, 和一點兒越南語" (I speak a little Chinese, a little Norwegian, and a little Vietnamese).

I would recommend saying you can speak a little even if you are fluent, so people don't overestimate you.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

I like that answer. :D

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langophobe

I have a degree in French but I'm still hesitant to actually say the word 'fluent' to anyone without knowing their definition of the word. I say I have a degree and if that isn't enough for them, I say something tangentially connected like "I've spend a good bit of time in France".

Now, for other languages like German, I say "I have studied German" and you can get away with saying that about any language, at any level!

For languages below that, I say "I have some familiarity with ..." These are languages where I can say tourist stuff

(PS if they reallllly wanna know how good I am, I give them my CEFR number and that'll usually befuddle them for good)

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NED524575

Well put! My degrees have declared me fluent in French. Having just returned from Paris, however, I would not consider myself fluent. I can read fluently, write and speak quite well, but my listening comprehension needs work. Now I watch as much French film and television as I can.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet

Yup. I also have a degree in French, and while I would still say I read and understand it fluently, I don't actually speak it enough for me to speak fluently right now. Often other languages come out when I try. I do feel like it wouldn't take much to get it back - even an hour or two speaking would get it to the top of my brain again I think, but it is kind of embarrassing when I need to speak it suddenly and can't get to the words I need.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Avi_an_Avian

I generally say I have studied for what I am more comfortable with and am studying for those that I am hesitant on.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ILoveRogerWaters

Never!

(yay, social anxiety)

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

Big mood, btw I love your user and icon.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/a11m0n

Good comment and great user name.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JessicaJon691590

THIS!!!

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

LOL:D!!!!!!

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

I don't tell people, as it were. But if someone says "Oh do you speak Italian, then?" I just say yes, why not. It occasionally annoys British travel acquaintances who say "Ooo, get you!" so I continue talking to the Italian hotel receptionist on purpose. Naughty me eh!

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VossBucci

Aaarrgghh, the expression "Oooh, get you!" really irritates me, LOL. People often said this to me when I was at school because I was a language fanatic even then and it really got on my nerves. :-) To me, this kind of response from people just shows how closed-minded they are. -_-

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VossBucci

....actually, now that I think about it, someone said this to me recently after having passed an exam. Perhaps it's just out of envy....o_O

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Taylor__Beck

If you give the impression of bragging, people will try to knock you down a bit. Of course, some people will try to knock you down anyways simply because you're working hard and learning a skill they wish they had.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

True

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fallingleaf_271

Linda,

I deleted my previous comment because I realized it didn't come out quite the way I meant it.

When my friends say something rude to me in Spanish or French I often respond with something mildly insulting in Chinese (we don't take it personally). They often speak Spanish or French when they know I can't understand them, and I do likewise sometimes.

I hope you can forgive me for what I previously said. Reading over it, I realized it really wasn't what I meant at all. I agree that you should always treat people the way you want to be treated.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

Being honest and taking responsibility for it shows good character. :D

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

"I speak German and English." - These are the ones I know I can get by in without any difficulties (unless someone has an accent/dialect I'm not used to). I've not gotten any language I haven't been learning since early childhood to the level that I'd say this without any caveats.

"I can speak a little French, Spanish and Finnish." - I can usually make myself understood in these languages in simple situations and can have easy conversations if the other person doesn't speak too fast. My reading comprehension will probably be better than that, but my conversational skills aren't that good and/or I don't want people to overestimate me (or think that I'm overestimating my own skills). The languages in this category range range from "learned it for seven years at school" (French) to "put in about a year of fairly intensive studying" (Spanish and Finnish, though Finnish is on the border to the lower category.)

"I'm trying to learn/used to learn/know a few words in Chinese, Arabic, Irish, Latin and Thai." - Seriously, don't expect me to be able to hold a conversation in these. I can say hello, goodbye, thanks, some numbers and pick a few words out of a conversation or text. I'm interested in these languages, am putting in a fair amount of work (or put the work in some time in the past), but I'm really pretty useless at them.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grant274777

I will even if I only know how to say basic stuff like:

How are you. I'm doing well. My name is (_) I live in the USA.

Believe me, even you don't know much, most foreigners will appreciate you trying their language. Especially if their language is a rare one.

Now I wouldn't boast about being good at it, but just simple phrases can get a good conversation.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fraspig

I have just been in Russia with my wife (we are Italian and she does not speak Russian at all) and she was really impressed by my 'tourist' Russian, just after about 4500 XP on Duo... :D

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidStyIes

When I first went to Russia, it was following a couple of months of learning with Duolingo and the Michel Thomas method course; my experience was that reactions from Russians fell into two categories:

1) Random strangers: business as usual; if they noticed I wasn't Russian, they didn't care 2) Friends and colleagues: Shock / surprise / "aww your accent is so cute" (not what I was going for, but thank you, ladies)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanBandes

I agree that just being able to say "hello", "please", and "thank you" in rare languages, or languages that you don't look as though speak natively (I'm thinking Asian languages if you aren't Asian) is appreciated.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidStyIes

Aye. Also, if it's a language I only know to a low level and for something I'm going to have to ask for example a hotel/airport staff member if they speak English (or more local lingua franca if more appropriate), I will always make sure I know at the very least how to first politely apologise for only knowing a little of their language, and then (still in their language) ask whether they speak English (or the other more local lingua franca). It's two sentences at most to memorize and makes a much better impression than just blurting something out in English.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndresGarner

This is a bit hard for me, I have had the same question. Many people have different definitions of fluency, some people I know consider me fluent because I can understand and talk about most topics. I go to a Spanish church sometimes, make small talk with the waiters, go to Mexican store etc. But I don’t consider myself fluent ;however, I consider myself conversationally fluent because I am able to have on the spot conversations about almost anything (my Spanish isn’t perfect, I am sure I make mistakes, but at least the other person can understand me.)

My level in Spanish is B2, I am hoping to reach C2 in 2 more years.

But when people ask me “Do you speak another language” I say yes, but I almost always add “I am still learning”.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/L7live12

it's funny that I've been studying Japanese pretty diligently for about 8-9 months now, using many sources, DuoLingo being one of them and if someone asked me how well I speak/understand the language I would say I'm a beginner. Languages take serious time to get good at haha

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpells

Honestly, even for my mother tongue, Hungarian, which I do know and speak regularly.. though my literacy is probably below a preschooler, explaining is just too complicated.. and then they put me on the spot with 'say something' which is really annoying so I prefer not to volunteer the info unless it is relevant to the conversation. People usually treat another language as a circus trick which gets old fast. I did study French intensively school. so I guess I say I can speak it, but that I am really rusty(because I have not used it much since) when the subject comes up. I think even with some of those celebrities, though I guess they are used to being in the spotlight, maybe they just weren't expecting to be put on the spot. With someone who does not speak the language, there is not much point in going into detail, because they are probably just trying to make smalltalk and if you meet someone else who is a speaker of the same language it becomes self-evident in three minutes of conversation anyways.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

I really hate the sentence "say something in..."!

The only things I can think of saying are "I hate that sentence" and "do you want me to jump through colored hoops like a trained dog next?"

(Posting this here because it wouldn't let me respond to your comment further down.)

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanBandes

You could memorize a poem, or learn a tongue twister, to have a ready example. Or in Russian, what the recorded voice says at every Metro stop, "Watch out, the doors are closing."

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

I like the "doors are closing" one!

("Vorsicht an den Türen und bei der Abfahrt des Zuges!" XD)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiyalka2

Yes, me too! I am a huge fan of the friendly voice in the Prague metro: "Ukončete prosím výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají." - "Please finish getting off and on, the doors are closing." :)

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet

There's also the sentence everyone who went to school in Ireland knows, even if they don't remember another sentence of Irish: An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas? (Do I have permission to go to the toilet?!)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RomanticRose

My favorite response when people tell someone to "Say something in..." is literally, in the target language, say, "something in..." .

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

That's cute. :) I'll have to remember that when I'm asked.

"Say something in Ukrainian."
"Okay: Щось."

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

Yep, I think I've done that before as well. :)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

Ha Ha :D That's smart!

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carbsrule

I usually respond to "say something" with "what do you want me to say?" in the target language. But maybe I should switch to "Help! The horse is eating the holy potato!"

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karatefan

I sometimes say something like "The duck is reading a newspaper." or choose another funny sentence from Duolingo.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KaiserWilhelm2.0

Scheisse, das pferd frisst meine kartoffel.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hazeldite

What happens when they ask what it means?

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

Yes, I also think that a lot of those actors don't like being put on the spot.
Sometimes the press likes exaggerating things (even if the actors in question don't).
If reporters know an actor can speak two or three languages, they might ask "wow, you know so many languages! Do you speak anything besides English, Spanish and Danish?" "Well, there was that one time I was able to translate between English and Swedish because Swedish, Danish and Norwegian are so similar. I also had to take French at school and learned a few words of German for a role."
And then the article ends up being written along the lines of "[Actor], who speaks English, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, French and German, ..." Cue the actor being asked to lead the next interview in German and feeling rather put on the spot. XD

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

In defense of the press, the "articles" that I'm referring to are not written by reporters per se, so it's not the press making these claims. It's people who put together these little YouTube videos or blog about this sort of thing. They aren't the media. They are just regular people who created a hobby out of saying something and posting it online.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpells

Are you talking about 'internet polyglots' whose whole thing is language (and usually something to sell) or mainstream celebrities like actors, singers, athletes, whose focus is not language at all, but it is just a side skill?

I think that those are different categories. For example, Shakira is actually very skilled at many languages, but I have not seen her put out an internet compilation. However, there are many interviews of her online being interviewed in English, Portuguese, French and she is often asked about the languages she speaks in interviews. Or singers and actors who perform in languages that are not their native language.

Personally, I prefer to cut everyone some slack. If they post a video and put themselves out there where everyone can see and comment (and we know how vicious utube comments can be) and judge for themselves. I don't really understand the whole internet polyglot thing, but I think if for some people it is a hobby they want to share, cool.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

Sometimes the celebrities will claim to speak the language and just end up spouting off some basic stuff (usually on some talk show). Other times it's a blogger or YouTuber that wants to compile a list of celebrities who can speak more than one language and to build the list, include people who only know how to say "Hi, how are you?" or something of that basic nature.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpells

I know this might seem like splitting hairs, but if it a talk show and they are asked by the host who does not speak that language, what else can they say besides basic stuff? For example, Natalie Portman speaks fluent Hebrew, has acted and directed in Hebrew and there are interviews with her online being interviewed in Hebrew, going in depth on topics, but if an American talk show host were to ask her to 'speak Hebrew' she would probably offer some funny slang phrases, what else can she say if the host or audience doesn't understand? That is what I mean by being put on the spot. They can't really go for anything in depth with no conversation partner. Imagine if someone asked you to 'say something' in English' off the top of your head.. for me, in these situations the only phrases that come to mind are things like 'I like ice cream. I live in Canada.' The only way to know is to look at videos of that celebrity actual giving interviews in the second language, or maybe performing in it.

As for the best of lists and youtube compilations, the celebrity really has no control, probably anymore than they have control over stories about them appearing in tabloids. Lingots for an interesting discussion though!

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpells

@Wollishoff, yes I know Natalie didn't learn Hebrew on Duolingo ;) Actually, I think I found out she is originally Israeli and a fluent speaker from one of those 'celebrity bilinguals' lists. I still think that being raised in the states though, she (or her parents) deserves kudos for maintaining it to such a high level as a lot of do immigrants lose their first language.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wollishoff

@MissSpells do you realize NP is from Israel and Hebrew is her mother tongue? She didn't learn it on Duo.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

Oh, youtube. Well, that changes everything. I get the impression that a lot of "youtubers" vastly overestimate themselves in a lot of things.

I was thinking more of professional actors who are bilingual or actual polyglots and where I think that their abilities are sometimes exaggerated without their will.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Myrtille107621

Same, it's kinda embarassing sometimes, because just learning the basics doesn't mean you know the language. In my country, we're all at least talking 3 different languages, it's due to our culture and diversity, so when i hear people claiming they're "Polyglots" while talking only 2 languages and the one they learned is at a basic lvl, i'm kinda confused... Personnaly, when learning a language i don't like to inform other, cause they're likely about to ask you to tell this or that sentences in the said-language, so till now i've learned any other language, i'm actually learning German but didn't tell anyone x)... just to mention i speak naturaly from my childhood French, Kabyle, Arabic and English :)

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

I have never heard of Kabyle, what is it??

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Myrtille107621

It's a language talked by Amazigh, in fact it's talked by every Amazigh but in a different way, with time (like centuries) passing by it, the language has changed a lot from a region to another but staying understandable from one to another. Anyway, the most well known Amazigh speakers are North Africa, i.e: Algeria (with a lot of different tree evolution of this language), Maroco and Tunisia. I'm from algeria, and from the mid-sahel country known as Kabyles so i speak Kabyle. It's not just a dialecte, it's a language, with grammar and writting with a script system (alphabet) i've never seen in another language (i don't know much about the writing systems of other african languages btw) but as every language, it differes from how it's thaught at school and how we use it daily, and due to the location of my region, the language had been influenced by arabic and french and roman/latin/italian :)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Myrtille107621

Adding to that it's a beautiful language with easy understandable words and grammar structure, please listen at this song, it's so touching and beautiful <3 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYwFrgJtRVo

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben163119

I'm not familiar with Kabyle. Because of the French and Arabic I want to say somewhere in North Africa?

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Myrtille107621

Yes the Sa7el :)

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Seattle_Scott

It's clear that a lot of people say they speak a language when they can only get by, or can somehow make themselves understood.

When people ask me how many languages I speak, I say that I'm fluent in English, French and Japanese (meaning I can talk about anything and use it fluently in business and conversation, watch the news, read novels etc).

Sometimes people will say "but I thought you spoke Spanish". And the answer is "I can understand some Spanish and German and can get by if I have to." I can actually understand a lot of Spanish, but that doesn't mean I speak it, even after several years here on Duo and some past college courses.

I'm reluctant to oversell myself. I'd rather under promise and over deliver than disappoint. For me, having some knowledge in a language and getting by doesn't mean speaking it. That takes years and some serious in-country learning.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

after several years here on Duo

Yes, DL only will not really get you to a level past "getting by". I suspect some people get an over inflated idea of their level because either they don't "speak" with native speakers - only other students - or their interactions are in situations where native speakers have the luxury of adapting their speech for the learners.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wippii

I never say I speak languages other than Finnish and English without specifying that I'm studying them, or that I've studied them but got rusty due to not using them. In general, I'd rather sell myself short than boast.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/B.Ellis

When I drive through Quebec here in Canada I know enough French to get by when asking for a motel room or a map, order a meal etc. but their French is also a dialect and quite different from proper French. When they ask if I know French I just say " un petit peu" They seem to appreciate that I at least make an effort.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet

(Even French French is a dialect - actually several.)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DragonPolyglot

One of the most prolific polyglots (can't pinpoint his name at the moment) in the world claims to only be fluent in three languages (English, Spanish, Warlpiri), yet his colleagues attest that he has learned Finnish grammar in the span it took for his airplane to Finland to reach the destination. And there is another polyglot that claims to be fluent in many languages but failed to understand basic sentences in many of the languages he formerly claimed fluency in. Personally, I feel like fluency is a very relative term. I don't feel like I'm even fluent in English (my mother tongue) many days. Does that mean fluency is useless? Well, no. I feel like if you can have a complex conversation on a topic, you have every right to claim fluency in a language. If not, you might only be partially fluent if you can understand the grammar. Just spitting out random sentences is an autopilot skill anyone can train themselves to do, even if it's in a language they don't understand.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

I bet that was a long flight! ;)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

I trained myself to understand a Japanese song all in one week. It's only like 50 seconds though.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WinterSoldier.

Totally. I NEVER say "I speak Spanish" I always say "I can read Spanish" and that gets me off the hook. I'd be mortified if someone said "Okay, so say something in Spanish please!"

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

I do say I can speak 'a little Spanish', and it does attract the type of question I am sure most language learners hate: "Say something in Spanish!" I never know what to say - I will order a taxi or tell them I have a family or something silly like that. Being put on the spot is one of my fears in my native language, so you can imagine it in Spanish lol!!

I guess we need to get over the feeling sometime anyway, otherwise we won't speak to natives. :) Good practice.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WinterSoldier.

The most irritating thing is people expect you to know every word every phrase and if you don't you're a fraud. So its just easier to say "I learn Russian" or "I learn Spanish" and when you have to speak it you'll surprise them with how much you know

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

Yeah, that's probably the best way to go about it. I enjoy surprising people.

I'd say it's perhaps more modest to say you don't know much and then be able to speak more that expected. :)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WinterSoldier.

Ah yes, honestly I come across words in English all the time that I don't know, does that mean I am a fraud? Does that mean I am not fluent? Fluency doesn't equal a living dictionary

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiyalka2

Even worse with Chinese. People will ask you to read some calligraphy on a picture in a Chinese restaurant that even mother tongue speakers will not be able to decipher - it is like asking you to read from a seismogram. :)

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/giordano.a.b

Usually when I can tell that to native people in their language, and hold conversations about somewhat deeper topics than small talk. Not that it's something I talk about often with others, but if it pops up sure. If you can understand most of what's being said in a conversation and you can talk about most of your interests or things that you may know something about, and feel like you could at least survive in countries where the language is spoken, then I think it's can acceptable to say that without sounding like you're bragging.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/trashymochi

I don't really say it if I'm not fully fluent in a language.

For instance, while I have been brought up with Hindi for example, and can pretty much understand what's being said when my parents are talking to me, I do not know the grammar that well so I cannot speak back in Hindi. In fact, I speak back to them in English, which is kinda weird.

My Hindi vocabulary is also pretty bad, so I can't really say things freely. I don't have a lot to say. If I do mention my knowledge of Hindi to anyone, I usually just say that I can't fully understand it, but won't mention that I genuinely can speak it properly. I can say a few basic things, but I consider myself monolingual as of now.

The same goes for Spanish, except I can't even understand it when I hear it. Still gotta get used to the fast talking.

Overall, I personally feel like one should only claim fluency if they truly can communicate with it properly. There are still obstacles for my fluency in Hindi and Spanish, so I can't say I speak them.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aine89244

I learn 4 languages, including English. Actually my English is not so good,(I passed the English test of intermediate grade). However I have to say "I can speak English" in here(China) because I cannot speak Chinese at all(HSK3). This summer I went to England to study and I was asked by many people that "Do you speak good English?". My answer was "No, but I know it a little"... In contrary I met some Chinese people there and when I talked with them, I said "我的汉语还可以(My Chinese is intermediate)".

So I think I change what I say about my language level depend on its situation.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Darius568602

For me, speaking another language means that I can talk about almost anything without effort and can understand almost anything when I listen and read in that language. So, by that criterium I speak Dutch, Frisian, English, German and French. Writing is a different thing altogether. I never write in Frisian, never have. I do write a lot in English but barely in German or in French. I also write in Dutch, obviously, it being my native language. I never say I speak Spanish, although I understand a lot and have no problem reading it. I say I study Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Hindi, whatever.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emak02

When you say 'tell people that you speak another language' do you mean tell it to relatives/friends or to people who are native speakers/definitely fluent?

I've learned Korean for a few years now and one day I met two girls from Korea. I told them that I spoke Korean and they really liked it. Of course, I couldn't and still can't speak as fluently as native speakers and I would have to think about sentence structure and pronunciation, but I was able to talk with them.

I also think many people feel they 'don't have the right' to say they speak language X until they have reached fluency. Meaning they can say whatever they want in whatever situation without making too much grammar mistakes or having to think too long about the words. However, I don't think you have to wait till you reached that point until you say 'I speak language X'. In fact, many people won't even reach that point but they still can get by speaking language X without too much trouble. I'm Dutch and consider English and German as my best foreign languages, but if someone comes to me and puts me on the spot with speaking to me in one of those languages, I still am often unprepared and really have to prepare myself mentally like 'alright, now I'm going to speak in English/German for some minutes. Okay, let's go!'

Just like Simon299426 said, there are more levels that you can learn as a FL speaker and I think reaching the competent level is good enough for you to say you speak language X.

Another way to think about it is this: If you were dropped in an area where people only speak language X and can't understand anything else. Could you survive there for 24 hours if you didn't have any dictionaries, grammar notes etc. with you and therefore had to speak from your memory with the locals? If the answer is yes, congratulations! You now definitely know language X and you have the right to tell everyone!

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

I meant more of telling non-native speakers, as in, if it came up in a conversation about something you were able to do.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/betsys2003

I have never been at the point where I'd say that. I have told people things like "I can get by in French" specifically so they will not assume I am fluent. I think I'd have to go live in the country for at least awhile in order to get the level of fluency I'd personally need to say that I "speak" it.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Donald631

i'd start right now. only problem being my interactions would be limited to statements like "how are you" "i am fine" or i like fruit juice".

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keziah4295

I am French, speak fluently English, can understand some italian thanks to italian friends, speak a little bit of Swedish (duolingo), and have studied German for 7 years, if you ask me how many languages I speak I will answer: 2 fluently, that I can hold a conversation in 2 and that I can uderstand a little bit of one.

So the point where I can say that I speak a language before fluency would be when I can exchange with a native understand and be understood without to many difficulties

That would be French, English, German

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hkan652090

After having studied Spanish for five months I really didn't "know" Spanish. And I still don't. But I was able to have a conversation in Spanish with a couple I met at the airport. They needed help with something and then we talked for a bit. Sometimes communication doesn't take too much if we really want to understand each other. So yes, if you ask me I'll say that I do speak a bit of Spanish but that doesn't mean I'm anywhere near fluency.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StarPlatinum4812

I've told what languages I am learning to only two people. The first was one of my teachers; we were listening to a song in French, my teacher said she wondered what the lyrics meant and I translated for her. We had a conversation then and she asked what languages I speak. The other was my cousin. He saw my Japanese grammar books and said ''Wow, are you learning Japanese? I am also learning it!''. We became studypals later. I don't talk about learning languages unless someone asks. The reason is, well, mostly no one cares.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

I don't think it's that no-one cares, actually, though the will be some in that category.

People are generally impressed when I tell them I learn Spanish (I usually tell someone when they ask what hobbies I have). If someone told me they were learning Japanese, I'd be super impressed because it seems like a complicated language to learn! (I tried a bit on Duolingo and gave up as I couldn't remember!!)

Being modest is fantastic, but don't sell yourself short - language learning is a skill and a gift that not everyone has. ;)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pv1204
  • 1026

Probably never. I think I'll always be learning!!!

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr.Krassinski

Well, fluent for me means I can read any book without having to look up more than about 5 words in a dictionary and understand movies without subtitles as long as they don´t include too much slang. I can do that in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian and Catalan and I hope to reach a similar level in Arabic, a few month from now.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob20020

I don't really tell anyone because they get too excited. I take Spanish class and when I passed the seal of bi-literacy test in German, my Spanish teacher got really excited about it and told a bunch of teachers and the principal. Even other teachers at an event I volunteered at. The recognition is cool but it's a little much sometimes. So I usually keep it low profile.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnBreaks

I speak a little Spanish.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fay306893

I doubt I will ever get to that point. I hope to get to the point I can read a little in Spanish. I doubt I will ever make it to the point I can speak it or even understand someone speaking it.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Simon299426

The biggest challenge for most English-speakers is actually saying something in a foreign language. Once you get over that hurdle, you'll find that it's not a problem and it'll come much easier.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanBandes

A problem I often have is that the person to whom I say something will respond with something I don't understand in the least.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

Yes, this is why "you only need 2000 words" is a myth. With careful selection of vocab and some lateral thinking you can often get across what you need to say - but your speaking partners are not so restrained and will use far more words - and grammar constructions you have not come across.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul431273

This is so true. I have read the list of 2000 most used german words. And even though I know 1700 of them quite well, it is still very hard for me to understand a lot of spoken language

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

That makes sense, Judit! Thank you for your informative comment. I might give it a go. :)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

Judit, how would you suggest coming past this barrier?

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

It's just slog. A good teacher helps. For the last 4 weeks I have been memorizing 50 words a day Monday-Friday (I have picked them out of the 30 hours of class I have a week - either something that peaks my interest in a text we are reading or words the teacher hints will be tested in the exam).

I have tried freeflow immersion - I spent three weeks here with Hungarian speakers prior to the course and most weekends. I picked up one new word (not that I wasn't exposed to hundreds of new words just there was no opportunity to stop the conversation and get someone to try to explain in Hungarian (using the vocab I already have) what a new word means. In class the teacher will use verbal definitions, synonyms, or mime - and I still have to check a lot of them with a dictionary in the breaks.

If working on your own - read. That will bring up new words in a way that is easy to look up. And buy a dictionary of idioms - because sometimes even when you know what the words mean it makes no sense.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

I find that a very modest answer because I see you've obtained up to level 25 in Spanish, you've been through half of your Spanish tree, and you're along in learning English from Spanish -- compared to me, I'd be looking at you for help with translations. It would be you who I'd say "I have a friend who speaks Spanish..." because unlike me, you have basic knowledge and then-some. Doesn't that give you any confidence to say, "Yeah.. I speak Spanish.." at all?

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShawnaBray

Telling others you know/are learning a new language can sometime be hard because sometime they mistake 'learning' for 'being fluent' and it can be intimidating.

I'm pretty sure only one of my friends and one of my cousins know that I know 11 different languages. shrugs shoulders*

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fallingleaf_271

你能說中文嗎?

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanBandes

Are you getting Traditional characters in Duolingo? Or is it just in the forum? I have simplified -- is it a system option or a Duo option? I'm seeing traditional here in the forum.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiyalka2

You can write both here: 你能說中文嗎? 你能说中文吗? But the course is in Simplified Chinese for all.

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NIXELFi

i love these responses

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cjr37

The English language is not specific in this. I say that I speak French. My wife says that I speak German, but I would not say that. Speaking a language can simply mean getting by on travels and day-to-day activities. This is an example of language having somewhat different meanings in different contexts, and it is why we have various schemes to try and measure language proficiency in different ways. My wife is fluent in Vietnamese, French and English, but still makes mistakes. She is more fluent than I am in French, but may make more mistakes.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

Yes, I think you can say you "speak" in some situations when you are less than working proficiency fluent (which as far below native fluent but way above beginner "getting by"). Just like some people say they have "learnt" French when they mean they did a few classes, not that they are proficient in it.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stanberryl

Thanks for creating this post! I have wondered the same thing as well. I took French for four years and I told people that I was learning it, but I was not even close to fluent. So, when people would ask me how many languages I could speak, I would only say English for fear that I would be put to the test on my French skills.

Years go by and I forgot most of my French skills. So anything I had learned in the past, it seemed I had forgotten. If people asked me to say something in French, I would freeze up and just say that I didn't remember. So I stuck with the fact that since I didn't fully and fluently learn French, that I was not able to retain it and had lost it as a language.

Recently, I started learning Spanish, and surprisingly, all of my French started to come back to me. Which almost makes learning Spanish more difficult, because my brain is now thinking of the French translation rather than the Spanish one.

Even though I'm not completely fluent in either French or Spanish, if someone asks me now if I speak another language, I can still respond that I speak a little of the languages. I guess it's completely up to you whether you feel comfortable or not to tell others you are fluent with a certain language.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

I don't think I've ever described myself as "speaking another language" to anyone. I might say "I speak a little [x language]" But, I've never been anywhere near 15,000+ words or signs in another language. Even if I could comfortably navigate a casual conversation, I wouldn't consider myself "knowing" a language until I could go into depth on a variety of more specific topics. I would want to have some technical vocabulary to go into depth about specific fields that interest me (sociolinguistics, sociology, etc.).

Instead, if it came up I would describe myself as being "conversational in x language" (if indeed I was) and add some specific descriptors in depending on where I am at the time in a language.

For instance, back when I was using American Sign Language on a regular basis American Sign Language, I described myself as "mildly conversational in ASL, though, with heavy English grammar." There were certainly some topics I was more conversational in than others. My friend works in Deaf Education, so my vocabulary was heavy in educational signs like classroom, teacher, student, homework, essay, test, schedule, practice, struggle, improve, grade, etc. We did a lot of backpacking together too, so those related signs were also part of my vocabulary. Same with more general every day stuff like going to a coffee shop, restaurant, bar, the park, grocery store, etc. From just those areas, I could navigate an wide array of casual conversations. I wasn't fluent by any means. I would ask for clarification regularly. But, I could spend several hours using ASL signs (and lots of English grammar) to communicate and enjoy time with friends. :)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ImagineDragons..

Welcome back to the forum @HeyMarlana ! I always like your posts, theu're usually the best in the forum ! Lingot ! I'd say "Je parle un peu du français !" (I speak a little French!) or "J'apprends le français." (I'm learning French.). I think that one needs to be able to hold a serious conversation, talk in past, future, and other tenses (Also, being comfortable with using multiple non-present tenses in the same sentence). And most importantly, one should be almost or completely comfortable speaking in his/her target language.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeyMarlana

Дякую! Я був зайнятий! :)

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ImagineDragons..

De rien ! J'espère que vous continuerez à faire des posts !

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaneErickson

I think B2 level is sufficient.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RomanticRose

I agree.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet

Sufficient for what, exactly?

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaisyRose2

Saying that you can speak a language. (In reply to what level would you tell someone you speak a language.)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/poche112

I don't think I would ever be confident enough to say that I speak a particular language. Though, I do think I could easily carry on a conversation in Italian at a basic level. I find that DUO teaches me pretty well to read and comprehend a language but actually speaking it is on a whole different level. I can read Italian and Spanish pretty well at this point but it would take immersion into the language, like living in a Spanish speaking place, to get my ears tuned enough to understand a native speaker.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

but it would take immersion into the language, like living in a Spanish speaking place

You might be surprised. A good intermediate Spanish course (with actual speaking as well) could get you there. DL does not really prepare you for conversation although it gives you a good base to build on. Don't judge all non-immersion courses by DL.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carbsrule

Simply when I'm confident in that language, and I know from experience that I've had many conversations without serious problems.

So I can speak English, Japanese, and Esperanto. If they're really insistent that it's more I'll mention that I've dabbled in many languages including Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Indonesian and Arabic. And I'm set on learning German as my fourth language.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/patient001

Because my dog is from France I stayed over there for a little while) I speak french to him but my French is at a basic level so when someone once started talking to my in french because I was talking to my dog I had to explain that I know almost nothing. If I could survive a full casual conversation in french (or any other language) I would say I can 'speak' the language. That is not yet though.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Leigh961771

Once I'm B1 with a language I say I speak the language - that being I can express most of my wants and ideas and I can understand most of what I read and hear.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

B1? You maybe able to express what you want but the vocab is way too low to understand native speakers - unless it is just at a shop. If you can understand most of what you can read - try harder material.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VossBucci

Actually, B1 is a pretty decent level for a hobby language. The Council of Europe describe B1 level as: "Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics, which are familiar, or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans."

It's not good enough professionally, that would be minimum B2 (preferably C1-C2) of course, but B1 contains a good range of vocabulary for daily life, travelling, conversing comfortably, not "just in a shop". Trust me, I know what I'm talking about, I've been a language teacher for 12 years ;-)

So, anyone who is already a B1 level, don't worry, you're doing well! :-)

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/strmzzz

I don't think I would ever be confident enough, to be honest. Even if I were somewhat good at a language I'd still think of myself as a beginner.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/loko298215

I’ve recently started to distinguish between “speaking” a language and “talking" in a language. To me “speaking” seems to suggest a certain accomplished level of proficiency…say C1, whereas “talking in a language” can mean anything between A1 and B2. I can talk in many languages I don’t speak.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hanspersson

I've now gotten to the point where I will say that I speak German, but I'm not going to claim that I speak it fluently (or well). I can follow a conversation without losing more than the occasional word and I generally make myself understood even though I need to do some detours to rephrase around words that I don't know.

From this point, I know that what I need to do to get better is read, listen and speak. Making errors is necessary to get better. If I don't make any errors, then I'm simply not trying hard enough stuff.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShemNBuns

Never tell anyone you speak other languages, save yourself the pain. Plus you get to act like a spy and listen to other people talk while they assume you don't understand them.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShawnaBray

big brain

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RomanticRose

To give the most solid and specific answer as possible, I'd say I can speak French when I hit the B2 level of the CEFR. You'll want to look it up, it shows levels of fluency of many languages, almost every serious language learner knows about it.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

I don't know how to find that out.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

To really know your CEFR levels you have to sit an exam - in both reading/writing and speaking/oral comprehension.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TomPiehn

Hi. There are actual quantifications of proficiency. You can find tests online to measure your proficiency. For example, in Mandarin Chinese I am HSK1. (on a scale of 1 to 4)...so not so good. In French I take test and it says i am low intermediate on the edge of high intermediate. So I can say 2A. So that is what I tell people. I don't want to oversell my skills. People will figure it out in 30 seconds of conversation.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sea-mist

I would always say "I am learning German and can speak it a little bit" unless I'm to the point where I can communicate with Germans easily and understand them easily.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NearatHand

Since I'm studying Japanese, in about 70 years - when they lower me to my grave.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoyeEverett715

I feel comfortable once I can speak, read, and write proficiently. Listening is something I'm always working on, so maybe not that. XD

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BangTan.OwO

I know slight Korean from Google Translate and subtitles on Bangtan Bombs. I can navigate the language and say such important sentences such as 'my sister is stupid'. I usually tell people that I'm semi-fluent but am working on it. Other than that, I don't know much of any other language. So I don't tell people I'm fluent until I really am, but I do say I am semi-fluent.

August 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnKing402198

I guess when I can manage to hold a conversation with someone. Definitely not there yet.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RainRabbit

I've studied french on and off for a couple of years (I've taken it seriously only recently) and I even though I've managed to grasp the basics and probably wouldn't die in an emergency if my life depended on it, I'd never presume to tell people "oh I speak three languages". There's a long way ahead, but it's fun! For me, personally, I'd only consider it -after- I feel I can express myself sufficiently enough to not only convey the message, but also the emotions behind it, if that makes any sense.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jrco8

I usually say that I have certain level of the language. For example B2 or something like that.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SlonecznikMaiky

I only tell someone that I know I language,only If I can use it well, not perfectly but well.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aridochichimodo

well currently im in no position to say anything but i'd definitely feel more comfortable saying it if id at least been studying a language for morw than 2 years, and if I finished the course on duolingo for it

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NapHime

I don't think I'll ever feel "confident enough"

Every time I've said I'm learning Japanese (I've been learning for 8 years with hiatuses in between), I always get pressured to say something, and when they say "say anything, anything at all" my mind just blanks as I can't even pull questions out of the air in English if someone is like "why don't you ask me something?"

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ryanaissance

I wouldn't tell anyone unless I was as comfortable in the language as I am in English. Only tutors or someone who catches me practicing would know. Or anonymous internet strangers.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Panda.Dani

I just say I am "learning a language (i.e. Spanish) and that I'm still a beginner" even though I'm more than a beginner just to not make a fool out of myself. lol. I'd rather come off as not knowing that much and turning out knowing a lot more than coming off as a person who should know a lot and embarrass myself when I really turn out not knowing that much.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

Online yes, irl no, But some of my irl friends that I have on Instagram know I am learning Indonesian but I don't think they care all that much.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

For me, I feel as if I am becoming fluent in Indonesian, but the rest of languages I am basic in, and can understand more than I speak it.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7.J.7

That's rude to say that people are embarssing themselves on youtube. Just because they are struggling, or don't speak well, or hardly know anything yet, that doesn't mean they're embrassing themselves. That is just so rude and mean. I'd expect better of someone on a language learning site, where people should understand the struggles or learning. Yeesh. I'd focus less on trashing others, and less on showing off weather or not you speak a langauge, and simply focus on LEARNING.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Melyndi

I won{t start saying I speak Spanish until I can have a normal conversation in it. I{m guessing that{s about a B2 level in speaking and listening. As it is now I blunder through speaking and listening is a lot of sorry I didn{t quite catch that lol

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RangerOfTheNorth

I do tell people that I'm fluent in Arabic, but that's only because I've lived in Cairo from the time when I was five years old and until now. It's the language I use to communicate with my friends and family here in Egypt, and it was my first language.

As for English, my mother was raised in the U.S. and my father is Canadian, so I grew up speaking a combo of English and Arabic. I've met plenty of Egyptians who claimed to be 'fluent' in English, when, in truth, it felt like hearing someone butcher your language and feeding it to the dogs.

I think, even when I do get to a certain level of fluency in Turkish, I would never feel comfortable saying that I'm fluent in it, because I'm 100% sure that, in front of a native Turkish-speaker, I would just have a basic knowledge of it.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StephanieM459427

I won't be telling anyone that I can speak more than one language until I finsih all my lessons, know alittle slang, and can have a full on conversation. That is knowing a language - not just being able to say hello and bye and ignore other things people say.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/goosetown

For the time being, I just say I'm learning Japanese.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/john_snake

Ever since I started learning another language, I’ve always had a feeling of never being ‘good enough’ at it.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

The focus is on trying to fill the gap between where you are now and this dream of speaking perfectly… A time and a place where you know exactly what to say at the right time. With no hesitation, no doubt.

Or rather, we won’t be satisfied until we speak this new language the way we speak in our native language.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dorothy799906

I came across the singer Shakira singing in another language. Perhaps global stars have to please their audiences by making a special effort.

I remember Katie Boyle working the Eurovision Song Contest; her ability to address people in their own language was endearing. Although quite frankly, an English entry was more likely to be successful than others.

There are many jobs and roles where languages are useful, especially if you are fluent. Parents who can bring up their children to speak the home language, if other, as well as English (in UK) are giving a wonderful gift to their children.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/candy8782

I think for me it depends on the language. I have been learning Spanish for a very long time, and I have a bilingual job. That said, there are many native Spanish speakers in my country. That means that when you say that you speak Spanish, people expect you to speak as well as a native speaker. That is an unrealistic expectation, so I usually tell people that I speak Spanish, and that I am still learning.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kapitaljack

Everyone's version of "fluent" is also different. Is fluent the kind of functionality we have with our mother tongue? I find it hard to think it's possible to achieve that when we don't get the opportunity to go through schooling the way children of our Target Language did, and (in my belief) is part of the reason why we don't achieve this "fluency" level that keeps bumping itself higher and higher.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ryneatsbeans

I usually tell people that I know English, can get by in French, and am learning many other languages. If someone asked if I knew Swedish, I'd definitely say that I'm still learning.

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnT1986

I don't know if I'd ever tell anyone I can speak a language, even when I become proficient at it. I certainly don't tell anyone I'm currently learning Portuguese. However, my girlfriend loves telling everyone. Which is actually a little embarrassing if you ask me. Since the usual response is "Say something in Portuguese" at which point my mind goes completely blank haha.

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MatthewKramer

I think that is hard to really say. When one can express what one in normal, everyday life needs to express to function. When one can listen to a broadcast or movie in that language and understand most of it. When one is not longer perplexed by the many idioms that make the language a living thing. When one starts to dream in it. Still, I look up an occasional word in English if I am reading something very technical or am reading a philosophical treatise-or am hearing some aspect of current slang I am not otherwise exposed to. In other words, I don't think we ever completely learn a language, not even our native one. We learn what we need in our own environment in order to function and if we can do that, we can claim the language as our own to various degrees.

August 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amclean22

agreed

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AshaCampbe3

I think that if it comes up, feel free to mention it, but try not to gloat. Sometimes it might come off as pushy. Good on you for learning though! I love being bilingual!

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TatianaBoshenka

I say "Estoy estudiando español pero no hablo" or similar in other languages. I never claim I speak any language but English.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbdusSalaa1
<pre>In my opinion, being able to speak an additional language is more about your state of mind than anything else. "Whether you believe you can or you can't you're right." (source unknown to me and I didn't look it up) Granted, there must be some basic vocabulary in that language and a touch of grammar. After that, just jump in and give it your best shot without bragging about your abilities. I find that people tend to be more forgiving of your short comings in their native language when you don't insist your fluent. Many appreciate your efforts for trying. Fluency in a first language varies according to the situation you find yourself in. I am not a lawyer, so conversing with them is fine as long as the references are common. Jargon takes the conversation to a whole different level. I am an engineer and sociologist, so take some of the same lawyers and put them in a group of my peers and they might find it less comfortable with our jargon. It doesn't take away from his/her fluency it just means they don't know everything. That represents all of us anyway. I think being quietly confident is the way to go. Even if you can't do something in that language now, if you try you can work on it until you can. Enjoy the journey. </pre>
August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alex767271

if you could watch a movie without subtitles.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beanstudy

I'm the type of person that responds that I'm simply learning a language, and have a lot to learn before I'd even think about being considered as fluent. On a job application, however, Spanish is the only language I'm comfortable listing whilst prefacing my competence at casual conversation.

Personally, I think fluency is reached when you're able to translate, and think in the target language? English isn't my first language, but I'd consider myself fluent because I think, dream, and speak it often.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiyalka2

Actually, translating and interpreting are other skills. Some people can be on mother tongue level in two or more languages but can't translate or interprete between them (especially when it comes to certain areas of expertise) - just because they never practiced that or because they did not develop that skill. That says nothing about their ability to speak the languages. That just says their brain did not make the connections between the different languages (at all, or in that special area). To some people, translating or interpreting comes totally naturally, to others not so much.

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

fluency is reached when you're able to translate, and think in the target language

If you are having to translate you probably are not there yet. You just open your mouth and speak - that's the start of fluent. But you might only be fluent in certain types of conversations but still have a way to go in other types.

August 21, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dcies

I say I am learning Spanish, and if they inquire any further I tell the truth. I can read rather well, but my speaking is often clumsy. I don't know that I'll ever claim fluency. I can have a conversation about current events, but the other person will have to overlook my mistakes.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bigbandan

Native North American (Etats-unis) here. Je parle un tres peu Francais et tout lentement.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/learnergn

Sorry,everyone types helluva long comments to your discussion question.And I do not have that patience to type as much as they do.But simply I agree with you.If a person can not speak said language fluently then that person should not say that he or she knows the language.Only fluency is the proof of knowing a language.Thanks for the question by the way.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexAnderson2050

Having started to learn English back in the mid 1980's, and teaching it since the year 2000, I still feel that each and every day I'm learning something new about this international language. So, if someone asked me how good my English was, I would say: "I really like the language and hope to learn it well sometime in the near future."

As you most probably know, there are more than half a million lexicons in English and it's a vast language. It's not easy to claim proficiency in it.

Apart from that, I have been learning German on this great website and after just 42 days of studying it, I can say I'm in the infancy level of Greman. ☺☻☺

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Isaiah240933

A lot of times let’s say I’m at a restaurant, a family member see that the waiter speak german. One of the family member will say something to the waiter like “he speak german” and gesture to me. Typically I say that I know a little of that I’m learning. Typically I let other say I “know” the language.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LastAinur

When I finally can use the language to absorb the high culture, like classical music and literature, and reproduce in my daily communication. It's not about simple communication, but talking doing references to the classical literature and music. Sure, I even reached this level with my primary language!

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bykunn

when I feel like I have a decent vocabulary

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Leighton763486

I have just started learning Spanish, I do tell people I am 'learning' Spanish to keep myself honest, and motivated to keep it up. But when I eventually do get to good level of understanding I think I will be less inclined to tell people. Just like the OP. I would be embarrassed if I couldn't translate what someone wanted to know.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scorbett

I've studied German for over four years now, and am still nowhere near fluent. I struggle (and lean heavily on google translate) during written conversations, and during spoken conversations, particularly with native speakers, I get lost entirely. I can get by as long as the person with whom I'm speaking is very patient with me, but in my opinion, that's not enough for me to declare "I speak German". I think perhaps another four years might get me to that point :)

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuoDinga

I don't tell anyone. I just have this sick fantasy that one day I can pretend to hit my head and then suddenly speak all these languages.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/varkentje123

Hm, that's very interesting. Let me see. I'd say I know Dutch, English, Frisian and Latin. Dutch is my mother tongue, so of course I know it. I am fluent in English and with the exception of vocabulary about specific subjects (eg. theatre, politics, gardening) more 'able' than many a native speaker I come across. Frisian, however, I'm not comfortable speaking. It is my literal 'mother tongue', though, and I can read and hear it. In fact, I can spell it better than my mother, although I have to think a while about most words (if I go on auto-pilot I tend to accidentally use German words, for some reason :P). Lastly, I can't speak Latin at all, and I also can't hear it, or fluently read it. However, I would still say I know the language, as I know it so much better than most, and there are hardly any speakers of Latin. I'd say I know Latin because I can read and write Latin if in possession of an appropriate dictionary. Interestingly, I can read German much quicker and with a lot less need of a dictionary than Latin, and yet I wouldn't say I know German, because German is a common spoken language, and I cannot speak it.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/m_.2808_

I can fluently speak 3 languages: Arabic, English and French. So whenever someone asks me how many languages i speak i would usually say 3. In my school though, we've been learning Spanish for almost 4 years now. I also learn Spanish here on Duolingo so that i can be even better and become fluent faster. Spanish IS very similar to French and i've recently become better at it because of the shows that i watch and the people that i am around. So recently when someone would ask me how many languages i speak, I've been confident enough to say 4. I sometimes add the my Spanish isn't fluent though i try my best. You should not hide the fact that you speak multiple languages even if not fluently because some people can barely speak a second language.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SraOwens90

I started to tell people that i was bi-lingual since i was able to pass a high intermediate level on my spanish quizzes. I'm not afraid to tell people and if they ask me to say something majority of the time i can say and if i don't well.... thanks because you just gave me a new word to use in my vocabulary :) I love that you asked this question because i never really thought about it. I just always done it, even now since my spanish is improving and i can have a sit down conversation with a native i feel really good when they correct me because i'll never learn if i continue to practice alone.

August 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Slim372537

I am learning German (have been for many years) and by no means consider myself fluent. When in Germany, I tell people I can speak "etwas Deutsche, otherwise they assume that I am fluent and start speaking conversationally. Until I can speak conversationally, I would never claim to speak the language.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PycLearner

Even if you just started learning I would, maybe they could help you, you never know.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hnojpena

I appreciate this question and concern. While the majority of us are learning languages for pleasure, some might need to communicate for other reasons, such as business, research, or the best yet, wanting to understand the people in a more personal way, especially if you will either one day visit their country, or live among them. I am not as ambitious as some of you polyglots are, nor am I a very quick learner. I need lots of repetition, lots of reassurance, and lots of verification that I am successful in all three criteria of language fluency: comprehension of listening and reading, writing, and oral communication. I believe when foreigners want to immigrate to the US, they are required to take standardized ESL exams that will test their English fluency to a level that is acceptable to everyday standards of communication. Because I really cannot test that myself, once I finish both of my trees, I will take various examinations that will grade my fluency. These not only are written, but oral. The oral communication is the most difficult to master, so I hope that I can find many opportunities to practice speaking my languages with natives from latin America, Spain, and Italy. I wish everyone the best of success!

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VoodooSaints

I would say I speak Spanish when im ready for the person im conversing with to instantly switch to that language. I am nowhere near that level currently.

August 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/meezanst

learning Spanish, French, and Amhairic(amhairic is from ethiopia and I don't know if I'm spelling the language right)

August 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/steven840883

When I'm at B2 or C1 in all categories (listening, speaking, reading and writing) most likely.

August 20, 2019
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