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When are you fluent?

October 9, 2019 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

A while ago I was browsing a language learning forum. There was a long thread with people discussing (arguing) about “when” you become fluent.

Now, apart from arguing on forums being a total waste of time, it’s also a pointless question. Because “fluency” (as most people understand it) is a meaningless concept.

What does it mean to be “fluent”?

To speak without effort, like you do in your native language?

Most people would agree with that, I guess.

But really it’s codswallop.

Can you talk about EVERYTHING in your native language?


Your job?

How about the Sex Pistols?

Or neuroparasitology?


You can’t talk about neuroparasitology in your native language?!?!

Oh my god…

That means you mustn’t be fluent.

… pretty stupid idea, right?

The reality is that you can be pretty fluent without actually being good at English. And you can be good at English without actually being fluent (though ultimately people who master English are fluent).

I define success in English thus: Using English so well you forget it isn’t your first language.

That’s the approach I take in MEFA.

Will you achieve this goal in the 90 days?

Probably not.

Some do, but they’re outliers.

You might be one too if you put in enough time and effort, but I can’t guarantee that.

But what I can say is this: if you do the work, listen to advice and don’t make excuses you’ll come out of the course knowing exactly what you need to do and a solid English improvement habit.

If you want to join you need to be on the waiting list, and you should start by consuming my free training that will teach you the fundamentals:



P.S. what is Neuroparasitology? It’s the study of parasites which attach themselves to the brain and change behaviour. Euhaplorchis Californiensis is a good example. It makes fish jump out of the water so birds can catch them.

Why do they do this?

Because they reproduce in the bird, which then poos out the babies… gross. But bloody clever.

Oh… and humans can get parasites like this too.


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