SLA-Speak Series: Fluency vs. Accuracy


SLA-Speak Series: Fluency vs. Accuracy

Continuing our series on “SLA-Speak”, we’ll now look at “Fluency” vs. “Accuracy”.

Note: This is the third post in the series.

  • The first post is: “SLA-Speak Series: Second Language Acquisition Theory
  • The second post is: “SLA-Speak Series: Acquisition vs. Learning

Fluency and accuracy are two important aspects of language proficiency. Let’s take a look at the difference between them:


  • Fluency is about how smoothly and naturally you can speak or use the language.

  • A fluent speaker can express their thoughts and ideas without hesitating too much or getting stuck.

  • Fluent speakers can keep a conversation going without long pauses or struggling to find the right words.

  • It’s like speaking or using the language with ease and confidence, almost like you’re speaking your native language.


  • Accuracy, on the other hand, is about how correct and precise your language use is.

  • An accurate speaker pays attention to grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation to make sure they are using the language correctly.

  • Accuracy involves using the right verb forms, word order, and choosing the appropriate words for the context.

  • It’s like being careful and precise in your language use to avoid mistakes.

Key Differences:

  1. Fluency is about how smoothly and confidently you can communicate, while accuracy is about how correct and precise your language use is.

  2. A fluent speaker may make some mistakes, but they can still get their message across effectively. An accurate speaker focuses on getting things right and being grammatically correct.

  3. Fluency is more about the flow and rhythm of language, while accuracy is about paying attention to the details and using the language correctly.

Briefly stated, both fluency and accuracy are essential for effective communication in a language. Fluency allows you to express yourself freely and confidently, while accuracy ensures that you are understood correctly and can avoid misunderstandings.

You can read more about it here: Fluency vs. Accuracy in English Language Teaching

I’ll leave you with these questions: What do you believe is the correct balance between fluency and accuracy? Is one more important than the other? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Note: We’ll look at more terms in coming blog posts including:

  • Affective Filter
  • Comprehensible Input

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.

Mach’s gut!


  1. Pat Brown on August 15, 2023 at 2:18 am

    I’ll play along and think the balance lies in your ability to be an active participant in the conversation. I’m thinking this is not an either or proposition but that a blend of both allows us to make sense of new languages and negotiate meaning. I think the question has insightful educational implications and a blend of both accuracy and fluency is needed to ensure students gain higher levels of new language literacy.

    • Eric Richards on August 18, 2023 at 2:15 pm

      You make astute observations. First, you are correct, a learner must be an active participant. The learner must attend to meaning and actively engage during the process. Secondly, like so many things it is not an “either-or”; finding the right balance in your approach is critical.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it!

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