Fluency Is More Important Than Accuracy When You’re Learning a Second Language. True or False?

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University of Bedfordshire Paweł Karpiński 21.10.20121215314

Fluency is more important than accuracy when you’re learning a second language. True or False?

Learning second language brings many difficulties for learners and the biggest dilemma for teachers is to decide whether to take a fluency-oriented or accuracy-oriented approach. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so which one is the most efficient? Can we really separate learning process into accuracy and fluency or is it something that constantly overlaps?

The modern view of accuracy-oriented approach is rather negative. “This view is called the accuracy-oriented approach. Practices that focus on repetition of newly introduced forms or grammatical structures are thought to help the learning. Although once supported by many linguists, nowadays it is seen as rather obsolete.” Nakagawa, (2002). - Teaching Speaking: From Accuracy vs. Fluency to Accuracy plus Fluency. Putting too much effort on learning grammatical rules may impact on natural acquisition of speech. The brain may develop an excessive monitor in the mind that would interrupt the learning process. Stern (1991) shares Nakagawa’s opinion and also suggests that from learners perspective this approach may be demotivating and boring.

On the other hand without accuracy the language, no matter how fluent, will never be correct without learning some grammar rules. To avoid overgeneralization (i.e. child and childs, not children) among other things, learning grammar is essential.

Fluency-oriented approach for both the teacher and a learner is much more difficult because it is based on instinct and a lot of practice in reading, listening and speaking is needed. Communication in a second language can be successful even without proper grammar or sophisticated words. Meaning can be conveyed using key words, limited vocabulary. Fluency has big impact on the flow of the conversation....
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