Bilingual vs. Fluent

24 Apr

Is there a difference between being bilingual and fluent in another language?

I’m half Cuban. First American-born gen. And an English-as-a-first-language speaker. My resume currently reads, “bilingual in Spanish” and my Twitter bio lists “bilingual” as well. However, as I’m on the brink of completing internships, graduating college and interviewing for career positions, I want to perfect my resume and self-presentation.

Although I learned Spanish in school, I’ve always had an advantage over my classmates, who unlike me could not practice at home. Especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate my heritage and realize the value in it–beyond acing my homework.

As I pick apart the definitions of bilingual vs. fluent, I would now say I’m fluent and only nearly-bilingual in Spanish. The key difference being equality between the languages. I cannot speak Spanish “with equal fluency” as I do English. I can however, speak Spanish “easily” and in a “flowing” manner. I can confidently say that speak more fluidly than many of my classmates and I can naturally roll my Rs, but put me in a court room and ask me to translate? I’ll fail to salsa smoothly across the room.

Pues, it looks like it’s time to update my resume–from bilingual to fluent!

Proud to be a Cuban-American!

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3 Responses to “Bilingual vs. Fluent”

  1. pdxsx April 26, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Yay! Great post, Cristina! Very insightful and personal. Well done!

  2. Jake neilson April 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I two enjoy and appreciate my mixed heritage, the difference is you could never tell that I am half Mexican. It posed issues trying to get scholarships because I was applying for hispanic scholarships and my name was Jake Neilson. Pretty much the most gringo name ever.

  3. evan1983 April 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I wouldn’t sweat the difference too much with Bilingual vs Fluent. Either way, you can speak Spanish and that is huge in the job world. I speak French but other than saying that to potential employers, it doesn’t have many practical applications.

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