How many languages do you recognize? How many languages do you speak? How many do you speak fluently? How about reading & writing?

So, what’s the answer? 1? 2? 3 maybe?  

When I ask friends, they often tell me that they are fluent in English in the oral sense, but not so much in the reading or writing sense. Moreover, being in Quebec, where the signs are almost always in French, many have a fraction of an understanding of French. Among some of my friends, they tell me that they can read French, but writing and speaking is a whole other story. 

For those who are brought up in a place where there are multiple common languages in the region, they often learn multiple languages. In Quebec, it seems to be common for people to know English, French and their native language (similar case for other parts of Canada). 

From Psychology, I remember that knowning different languages can actually be beneficial for the individual. From the podcast TED Radio Hour, I learned that different cultures have different perceptions of the world (I.e. Time, gender, age, etc.). From Concordia, I’m frequently reminded that languages allow for connection with others who might have a similar background. 

English seems to allow for the creativity to take hold, inventing words when nothing else seems to be sufficient. French seems to demonstrate the precision of words, having a different meaning for almost any possibility. And Mandarin? While I’m limited in such a language, my impression is that it’s simple in nature, yet carefully articulated, with the meaning depending on the pronounciation. 

Someone told me that to be fluent in a language is to be able to carry a discussion, to read a text and to be able to properly write a text. It seems to remind me of the high school criteria in my French class, but it seems accurate since those are the three crucial areas. 

If you were to follow that statement (or maybe that would be a theory?), would you be able to consider yourself fluent in English, with confidence? How about the other languages?

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