Studiu de specialitate – Fluency or accuracy in speaking?


Autor: prof. Negru Nicoleta Dana
Școala Gimnazială Sfântul Ierarh Nicolae, jud. Galați

Speaking in a foreign language has been considered the most challenging and complex of the four language skills. That is because the speaking process occurs in real time, dynamic interrelation between speaker and hearer should arise under time constraints.
Accuracy and Fluency are two factors which can determine the success of English language students in the future. Many teachers have difficulty defining where accuracy should be stressed over fluency and vice versa. Taken as a given that students’ needs should always dictate what you teach them, the question of whether it is more important to work on accuracy or fluency in the language classroom remains.
More traditional teachers tend to give accuracy greater importance; more liberal teachers tend towards fluency. Often a rigid educational system where tests and exams are the focus, will have students (and their traditional teachers) believe that language accuracy is what matters most, and giving the „correct” answers often becomes an obsession. Students who have been taught this way can complete any grammar gap-fill you care to give them, but will struggle to order a coffee in a real English speaking situation.
On the other hand, a more communicative approach will produce students who can converse at length on almost any subject but could well make horrendous spelling and grammatical mistakes in their writing. In the end, however, it really boils down to the needs of the student.
Methodologies in Practice
As far as teaching methodologies are concerned, very broadly speaking the communicative approach is the one that favors fluency the most, while the audio-lingual and grammar-translation approaches favour accuracy. Typically, at beginner level when the students don’t have enough language to worry about fluency, teachers tend to focus on accuracy. This carries on through to pre-intermediate when fluency activities like discussions and debates are introduced. (fragment)