According to the Merriam Webster dictionary fluency is "the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately". Most definitions that describe fluency only refer to the ability to speak or write it not so much one's ability to read or understand. These definitions imply that one must be able to speak or write it with great skill to be considered fluent in the language. In reality, there can be varying degrees of fluency in a language. One might consider someone who grew up hearing a foreign language but rarely used it verbally, so while they can understand it extremely well they might lack the ability to actually speak fluently. There can be many aspects to take into deliberation to be considered fluent in a language. One does not need to be 100% capable in every characteristic of a language to be fluent on some level.
Adults find it much more difficult than children to learn a new language and there can be many reasons for this. Children normally do not learn a language, they acquire it over time (Vanhove, 2013). Adults compared to children have to put serious effort into learning a new language because it does not come as naturally for them. Besides this, adults also have other things standing in their way of gaining fluency in a language. Sometimes people do not want to express themselves incorrectly or show that they are having difficulties with the new language. Many people will refrain from practicing or speaking the new language because their lack of ability to speak it clearly makes them uncomfortable. This can severely limit the capability of an individual attempting to learn a second language. Learning a new language can be difficult and often wearisome for adults; essential to acquiring a new language is repetition, immersion, patience, diligence, active participation and aptitude.
For many people, learning a new language can be incredibly stressful. It puts them in a situation where they have no real frame of reference. A person's mother tongue is second nature to them; it is not something they truly learned as much as acquired over time (Saville-Troike, 2012). Another issue is simply how people feel they are perceived when learning a new language. People are accustomed to being able to be well spoken and the fact that this does not translate immediately to the new language can be disconcerting. The inability to instantly grasp and speak clearly in the language being learned can be very embarrassing. Embarrassment at a perceived lack of ability can limit a person's desire to participate and in turn become more skilled at the new language (Lightbown & Spada, 2006).
Individual aptitude in a second language acquisition is hypothesized to be a mixture of cognitive and perceptual abilities (Dörnyei, 2006). There are a variety of theories behind why some people find it easier to learn a second language. Some believe that stronger first language abilities translate into improved second language acquisition (Fan, Ran,...