What is more important in learning a foreign language? Fluency or accuracy?

The answer may not be as straightforward as you think, because it all depends on the situation you are in as a language learner and what your goals are. 

First, let’s clarify what each skill actually means and what it requires from you.


Fluency is the flow and efficiency with which you express your ideas, particularly when speaking. A few grammar mistakes may appear here and there in the explanation, but it should be delivered in a way that is easy to understand and shows how comfortable you are with the language.

In an academic or even professional setting, this is one of the skills to focus on for an oral presentation or debate. The way you explain your topic or prove your point – smooth, clear and concise without too many pauses or hesitations – is as important as the content of your presentation.

Outside of the classroom, fluency can help you socialize with native English speakers and avoid misunderstandings. 

To improve your fluency in English, practice speaking every day by engaging in a conversation with someone. Every now and then, throw in the new word or phrase you have just learned. But remember, don’t let the fear of making grammar mistakes hold you back. 



Accuracy, on the other hand, demonstrates your ability to use the necessary vocabulary, grammar and punctuation correctly, such as verb forms (past tense, present tense, and so on), articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (in, on, from, at). 

This skill is particularly important for written assignments at university, such as essays and lab reports. It is also an absolute necessity in the work place, where an email or report that is riddled with grammar or punctuation mistakes may be viewed as unprofessional. 

Aside from taking a course, one very easy way to improve your accuracy in English is to read any type of English material on a daily basis. Whether it’s a novel, a non-fiction book, a newspaper or magazine, reading is an easy yet effective way for you to absorb the nuances of English grammar and punctuation. 

So, which situation applies to you and what are you looking to accomplish? Of course, to be a well-rounded speaker of English, it is important to have a good grasp on both fluency and accuracy, but this is a learning journey that takes time and dedication.

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