There's a bunch of YouTubers nowadays who claim to speak fluently in some second language. Some can; some can't but pretend to. I've noticed some YouTubers use a lot of techniques to inflate their apparent language skill, such as:

  • Picking and choosing which videos to upload.
  • Many edits, resulting in a discontinuous video (I've seen mid-sentence edits!).
  • Rehearsing and memorizing a script.
  • Talking about the simplest possible topics, like learning a language, food, family, or personal hobbies.
  • Unnecessarily using rare words or slang to make it sound more advanced.
  • Replying "yes" to every question to make it sound like you understood it.
  • Adding in a lot of meaningless "filler" words and phrases, and grunting sounds.

They might artificially inflate their skills to get additional clicks and profit off ad revenue, or to make something they're selling seem more credible.


Question: How can a YouTuber demonstrate that they are actually fluent in a language?

I'm imagining something like an automatically uploaded livestream feature, where they discuss e.g. news which was uploaded in the last 30 minutes, or topics chosen from a list like Conversation Questions for the ESL/EFL Classroom at random.

  • Unless one knows for a fact, that the person hasn't tampered with the tape, so to speak, it is not so hard. That said, I am not aware of the phenomenon you are referring to. Why would anybody do that? If the speech is real speech, then, you get a native speaker of that language (like a professional interpreter) to listen to it. We can always tell who's fluent and who's b.sing. I can spot a fake native speaker at 10 paces. [joke] So, your question should be: How can you tell whether a YouTuber speaks a language fluently? Right?
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 20:31
  • 2
    Convince him to take a language level placement test with a professional language instructor and post the interaction and instructor's assessment live.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 14:02
  • Only you can tell if you know the language. They cannot prove it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


I cannot - nor can anyone, really - demonstrate they are a native speaker. I can merely say that I am. I also happen to be a linguist and could provide criteria for that (please see my link below.)

Generally though, one doesn't claim to be a native speaker when one isn't.

So, the question is this: How can one tell if those YouTubers are in fact native speakers?

I answered this question in another forum and it was accepted by the OP.

I'll give you the link but do not wish to post the entire thing here:

native speaker and idiomaticity

Basically, what can be said of native speakers applies to those who are fluent in a language even though a native speaker may have "more fluency" that a fluent non-native speaker. The basic premise is the same.

  • 1
    The OP question was about fluency, though.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 14:08
  • @Brandin Same thing. A native speaker is fluent. And someone fluent in a language would basically have to meet almost the same criteria.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 15:02
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    I've met a lot of speakers of English who are fluent in English but for which none would say English is their native tongue.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 17:13
  • @Brandin You don't get it: the understanding of fluency is basically the same for native speakers. That does not mean that every fluent speaker is a native one. My point is that the characteristics I gave in my answer on ELU apply here to. There's no point arguing with me since I am an interpreter and know exactly what difference may exist between the two. But a YouTuber cannot show they are fluent speakers on their own.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 18:18
  • The purpose of my comment was just to say, I think you are incorrectly conflating fluency and being native in your answer. They are two different things, and from your comment (but not your answer) it looks like we agree on that point.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 4:38

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