Working Knowledge of a Language Defined

At what level of learning, can you say yo have a working knowledge of a language? This is one level of defining your fluency in a language.

Slowly over time, I have become aware, that many people believe they are fluent in a language, but more correctly, they have a great "working knowledge of a language," not really fluent. They just have a really good way of getting their point across in a specific country. Yet, if they went to another country, they would not even be able to understand, or communicate with another person, yet they believe they speak the language fluently.

Working Knowledge of Language

For example, I can speak Spanish very well in Guatemala, but when going to Cuba it feels as though I do not even speak Spanish. The way the Cubans speak Spanish is almost impossible for me to understand, or communicate, one must say, I am neither Fluent in Spanish, and in Cuba, I do not even have a working knowledge of the language.

When I am in the deep south of the USA, as a northerner from Indiana, I can have horrible problems understanding the locals, but can get my message across. It is the same for Scottish people, it takes a lot of work to communicate, but I can make my English work because I am indeed fluent in English.

Points of debate for definition of "Working Knowledge of Language."

1. Non fluent would have trouble writing essays, but could write small notes.

2. May pronounce 5-6 words wrong, but a Fluent native would understand.

3. The person is going to be able to buy food, read road signs, but have no ability to debate politics, or discuss how much they love a person.

4. Working knowledge is often country specific, they fail to communicate in another country.


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