Understanding the difference between fluency and accuracy makes it easier to improve quickly!

As language learners, we all have heard about the four core areas that we need to practice: listening, speaking, reading and writing. But as always, it’s a bit more complicated than this! There are also so many sub-skills we can practice: pronunciation, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, punctuation… and dozens more!

It can be very overwhelming, I know. I speak from experience as not only an English teacher, but as a Spanish language learner.

So where do we start?

Believe it or not, all of these skills can be broken down into two main categories: fluency and accuracy

So.. what’s the difference between fluency and accuracy?

When we have good fluency, it means that we can produce and engage with language in a smooth and effortless way. Sure, we may make mistakes, but we are able to communicate our ideas. Many of my students express fluency as “saying what is on my mind without translating word for word”. 

Fluency is mostly associated with speaking, but of course we use it when we write as well. We text our friends, write informal emails or chat online using our fluency skills! 

Accuracy, on the other hand, is often what we think about when we are learning a language. Accuracy is about using correct grammar in speaking and writing. It is about understanding the deeper meaning and usage of vocabulary and also involves the correct pronunciation of words.

It takes lots of practice to be accurate, and it is something we must work towards little by little. Every week we can exercise a different aspect of our accuracy, whether it be vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation.

Which one is more important?

When we go to the gym, we focus on both endurance and strength in order to get fit. When we communicate in English, we want to use correct language (and do it without thinking) in order to have a meaningful conversation with others. 

So the truth is, both skills are equally as important.

How can you practice both skills equally?

This is something we talk about a lot at The Ladies’ Project!

It’s important to spend time doing activities which will help you to develop your skills which are not as strong.

Here are some ideas our ladies love!

Practice Fluency

  • Find an English speaking partner, and have a 30 minute chat with them once per week about a topic you are both interested in.
  • Find a penpal and write friendly emails to each other throughout the week.
  • Read social media in English to practice reading quickly and get used to different writing styles.

Practice Accuracy

  • Keep a vocabulary journal and write down different word forms and collocations you learn. Practice using them in a sentence accurately.
  • Do grammar exercises online or in a book to test your skills and check your accuracy.
  • Practice reading aloud and record yourself to listen to your pronunciation.

Fluency and Accuracy at The Ladies’ Project

We make sure that fluency and accuracy are at the heart of our English learning!  We give grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation lessons so that ladies are able to focus on accurate language use. We have special ‘Office Hours’ where ladies can ask questions and get feedback on their language.

After we take in new words and language… we talk! Every week we are chatting about a common topic! Leaders in our community host video chats where we practice using the language we have learned. We write articles, we chat online and we focus on the most important part of language: communicating our ideas. 

So what about you?

What do you do to focus on fluency and accuracy? Do you have any tips for other language learners? We’d love to hear your ideas! 

Find a speaking partner. Build your confidence.

The Ladies’ Project is an online community that helps women around the world, connect and practise speaking English. Together we help each other build confidence, make new friends and talk about the important things in life!

Find out more

What do you think?

Type your comments here.

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  1. Baljid

    Thank you Kat. It reminds me how I practice my English fluency & accuracy. Is there any online exercises for grammar? I’d like to test my grammar skills.

    1. Angie Solano

      Hi Baljid!
      I hope you are doing well.
      About your question, there is a website called BBC learning English, where you can practice some grammar.
      I hope this helps.
      Take care.

  2. melanie

    wow! this is new from everyone I have heard teaching on learning English, I think the difficult one is the accuracy but by practice, it will get as natural little by little. I am an English learner and i know how hard and confusing to learn English. I’d love to try this fluency and accuracy methods

  3. Neha vashisth

    Hi,
    Neha vashisth is side, I am from india
    It’s really too helping to us we are fellow your petern, but I don’t have any partner for practice, but I am giving my best for improve my english speaking skills and vocabulary, how much time get me I use for search new topic for speaking and write.

  4. Chukwu Oluchukwu Favour

    Thank you kate. We practised in our school days.Getting a partner in a non -English speaking environment will help in building confidence as one practises to be fluent /accurate by doing it.

  5. Juliana Storelli

    Hi!!! I am new in the TLP and I ‘ve been enjoying it a lot ! Your article helped me to see that I am fluent I just need accuracy and why this is so important to me . I am not a confident person , I’m kind of perfectionist and I push my self too hard , being like that stops me to move forward. When I speak wrong or when I don’t find the right word makes me feel so frustrated, because I know that I know how to say it but I get nervous and the words come wrong out of my mouth .
    But I won’t give up on this! Thank you again .