Accuracy vs fluency

In order to be able to speak a new language, you need both accuracy and fluency. At the Taleninstituut we recognise that both are important in your learning process. But what are they and how do they impact your use of language in a business context?


This is best explained as the ability to use grammar according to the rules of the language. This means getting and keeping your tenses right, the correct use of prepositions and word order. It also includes developing a good grasp of vocabulary: understanding what words actually mean and using them in the correct contexts.


This is harder to describe. Being fluent involves being able to use and understand a language with little effort. You can understand what goes on around you and make yourself understood in turn. People who are fluent in a language can hold a wide range of conversations at a good level, even though they are making grammatical errors.


The truth is that each language course needs to take into account where a language learner is in terms of their usage. It is not much help trying to use only fluency as your approach with a learner who is an absolute beginner. They have no framework, no body of words that they can use to start actually speaking. To get them to become fluent, you first have to build the frame.

However, you can do this in a blended way, by incorporating actual real world use and practice into the accuracy component of every course, no matter the level.

In the context of Business language lessons, fluency is the more common demand. However, in order to come across as professional and knowledgeable, you also need to be accurate in your language use.

To address this, we follow a method of blended learning where our courses cover increasing the accuracy of our clients’ language as needed while actively incorporating their working environment and materials into the course to promote fluency.

It’s ok to mix your tenses and mangle your prepositions when you are speaking face to face. Body language, tone and context will assist you. But in professional, sometimes legally binding written communications, you just cannot afford such inaccuracy.

Taleninstituut Language Learning Tip:

Take the time to make sure your language use is as accurate as possible when writing. Plan ahead to leave time for double checking the rules, reading and re-reading your writing. This has the dual benefit of

1) making your emails professional, easy to understand and clear and
2) helping to improve your fluency by building your confidence in the rules that govern the language use.

Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those.

To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote:

© Taleninstituut Nederland

By: David Chislett
Trainer Business English

DSC 8013 - Taleninstituut Nederland

Foto’s: “Fluency” van Jeroen Docter