Posted: June 25th, 2008 4:08 pm
untmdsprt wrote:Just how would you measure fluency? Would you measure all four aspects of the language? Or would you measure certain ones? ...
...As for me my strong skills are reading, writing, listening and then speaking...
Well I think fluency usually refers to an ability to have conversation, so an ability to listen and speak. Literacy is the ability to read and write. They are the two main aspects to a language. It is perfectly possible to only have one and be very good at it and have almost no skill in the other.
Indeed with Japanese because of the challenges of the writing system there could well be many second language learners who are fluent but illiterate. But in the history of languages universal literacy is relatively recent if you think about it and most people got along ok.
The order of your skills in Japanese I'd say is also the order of your skills in your first language.
Consider a difficult academic topic in a subject you are unfamiliar with. You could probably read it, at a push you could spend the time to write a paper, might lose track at a lecture, and would falter at delivering an off the cuff speech in the same style. Your vocabulary and grammar usage drops as you go from reading through to speaking, from active to passive, own time to real time.
Practice, exposure and perseverence is all I can say. Make the effort to speak (and make mistakes). A lot of speech is rehearsed even in your first language. You are recycling and reusing the same words and phrases all the time. Eventually this starts to happen in a second language as well. You start using the phrases you know and adapting them to suit your purpose, picking up the vocabulary you need rather than the words a textbook suggests you need.
Nor would i discount reading and writing. It's a very good place to pick up new words and practice using them. This will then trickle down into your listening and speech.
The trick with your friends is to not let the conversation lapse into the easier option of English (often at a mutually higher level) too quickly or to make friends with people who have poor English skills.