We believe that language proficiency is a developmental process. And fluency is a social skill or set of skills. These skills must be practiced with other people. In fact, when we talk about competence, we are talking about the ability to do something. And doing things well requires practice.
We contrast skill with knowledge. Knowledge is a conceptual or mental state, and is less of a process – either you know a thing or you don’t at any given time. For example, you either know that something is an egg is or not. But the ability to cook an egg requires time and practice. This skill vs. knowledge distinction is available everywhere, but widely conflated in the US educational system. However, as interculturalists, language learners and language teachers, we cannot ignore skills/competence. If we could, it would be enough to just read about a language, or know the grammar rules in order to be able to speak or write it.
You can’t learn how to drive by passing the driver’s license test, or by understanding how a combustion engine works.« Back to Glossary Index