Michael McCarthy University of Nottingham, UK
5. Fluency and society
Research suggests that perceptions of fluency in the world of employment and in society ingeneral have real and sometimes life-changing implications for people using languages other than their native or first language. A number of studies point to the fact that employmentopportunities may be positively or negatively affected by the extent to which potential and actual employees get good or better jobs, especially in contexts such as those of recently arrivedimmigrants. Tainer (1988) underscored the negative economic consequences of inadequate language proficiency among immigrant groups (see also Dustmann, 1994).
Meanwhile, Chiswick and Miller(1998) point to their own investigations and those of others which suggest that immigrants who become fluent in the language of their new country achieve greater economic success. D´avilaand Mora (2000) speak of the ‘English deficiency earnings penalty’ (p. 369) with regard to levels of fluency among immigrants, as well as recent legislative pressures in the United Statesin relation to language standards and how these affect immigrant groups. In the United Kingdom, Shields and Wheatley Price (2002) report similar economic deficits associated with a lackof fluency. Elsewhere, Yeh and Inose (2003) state that lack of fluency is one of the contributory factors to acculturative stress and integration problems among international students.Fluency, deeply rooted as a common, lay metaphor for the perception of flow in language events,may be influencing the non-academic life of language learners and users more than we appreciate.Fluency should therefore be one of the pillars of investigation of the English Profile programme and establishing its criteria features should be one of the project’s key concerns.