In learning a language, it involves the four basic skills which are speaking, reading, listening, and writing. Among these four, we are confused between speaking and reading — which one should you choose first?
It is important not to set aside one over the other. Reading and speaking are two of the essential ways for you to learn a new language. There is no right or wrong way to learn a foreign language, much so which comes first. It differs from one person to another. Because of each person’s individuality, they choose the best way that personally suits them.
The best way for you to learn a language is to figure out what it is that you want to do first. Once decided, identify your means of learning, pick out the online platform or courses you would want to utilize, and how much time you are willing to spend to learn a language. Upon knowing your goals, you will figure out along the way what the best way is for you to get there.
Differences Between Learning to Read First and Learning to Speak First
The main difference between reading in a foreign language and reading in your native language is that you began reading your native language once you were already speaking it fluently. While as a beginner in a foreign language, you are challenged what to do first. You have to commensurate your level of vocabulary and grammar to identify which path you would want to walk first.
Learning to READ a Language First
It appears to be that some people find it way easier to learn to read the language first than to learn to speak it.
In reading, you internalize information at your own pace while in speaking, there tends to be an issue as to how fast people talk. You do not have to force yourself to cope with another person in learning to read a language – you can finish a task in a shorter or longer time, and you can pause, look up certain words and phrases that you struggle to understand. In a lot of instances, when you read an article in a language you are trying to learn, you will do just fine and would tend to have a positive result.
While you are learning to read at a slow pace, you begin to be exposed to more sentences, and you better understand the rules and grammar of the language you are studying.
Many believe that being familiar with vocabulary and grammar simply trains you to use language better in your own speech. Language-learning platforms and courses found online are often more inclined to help learners read and write. Also, if you are already a good reader in your native language, those skills usually give you a leg up towards good reading skills in a foreign language. This sounds great, but the more time you spend in practicing to read and write, the more gaps there will be when you use the language in actual conversations – or the listening and speaking parts of language-learning.
If you are more comfortable with reading and writing to start with, then, by all means, start there. If you want to learn how to speak the language, know that you will eventually need to practice it through actual speaking.
Learning to SPEAK a Language First
Now, let us have the tables turned because not all mastered a new language by learning to read it first. There are those who jumped towards learning to speak the language firsthand through experience.
Reading and writing are the representation of sounds and signs in language. But that is all there is to it — it is just a representation. Literacy skills and reading fluency does not always lead to speaking fluency. This is the miss of nearly all language courses and programs. Sometimes, it is all about taking real bites of audio, listening to it repeatedly and putting it straight to use.
You go back to the basics of listening and repeating. Once you keep hearing a sound, you immediately associate that sound with its corresponding meaning. The more you are in a conversation using the language you are learning, the less you will have problems in sound association to its meaning.
The practice of speaking a language first provides the learners with an adjustable pace, a stronger incentive to pay attention, and a greater chance of receiving corrective feedback.
For learners who start with speaking, reading for them helps them expand their learning and finding out more articulate ways of expressing themselves. Reading is an underrated activity that is also effective in learning a language.
Have you decided between learning to read orto speak first? Well, the sequence doesn’t matter. You can use the trial-and-error method to know what best suits you. If you want to know which one is EASIER, you can check the article Is It Easier to Read a Foreign Language or Speak It?
Why Reading and Speaking Are Important in Learning a Language?
If you want to improve your writing skills and widen your vocabulary list, all you need to do is READ, READ, READ. You might be wondering why reading is important in learning a language. You might think there are other things to do rather than reading books, articles, and novels!
It’s because reading helps you improve your vocabulary. Why? Reading introduces you to new words and phrases. It’s also important to balance the difficulty level of what you’re reading. For example, if you are a newbie in your target language, you should choose children’s books, easy articles, or any other writings that use simple words and have clear content. If you’re at the intermediate level, you should try reading novels, newspapers, and other scholarly writings to gain more knowledge of your chosen language.
How to practice your reading skills:
- Reserve a “special” time and place for reading. Yes, it can be done anytime and everywhere, but distractions can interrupt you anytime — noisy area, messy table, the phone ringing, the smell of your favorite food, or even the sight of your gadgets. If you want to improve your language skills by reading, you need to Try to reserve a particular time and place for reading. It should be clean, well-lit, and quiet. This will help you concentrate more on reading.
- If possible, choose the books that you enjoy the most. Reading ought to be fascinating and fun.
- Also, while you’re reading, ask yourself questions. The more you question what you read, the deeper you get into the meaning. In this way, you can personally check if you understand what you’re reading. Try to ask questions like “what’s happening now?” or maybe “what does this situation mean?” to focus more on the content.
- Read regularly. If possible, try to read every day. This will help you exercise your brain and avoid forgetting what you’ve learned from yesterday. Twenty minutes every day for a week is better than five hours for one day a week.
If you want to be fluent in a language, all you need to do is to SPEAK, SPEAK, SPEAK! Use the language that you’re learning whenever and wherever you can.
Speaking helps you practice the pronunciation of the words, the correct intonation, as well as the right accent of the language. Being a good speaker doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes in your sentences. You are a good speaker if you can communicate and understand the flow of the conversation.
How to practice your speaking skills:
- Practice with your family and friends. This doesn’t mean that they should also know how to speak the language that you’re learning. The point here is that you have ‘someone to talk to.’ You can let them communicate with you using your native language but let them allow you to communicate with them using the language you’re practicing.
- Try not to use your mother tongue for some time, at least for one hour a day. Even if you’re home alone, you can still practice your speaking skills. How? Well, this might look a bit awkward, just talk to yourself. Try to describe the things around you, or try to summarize what happened to your day, or maybe try to at least tell a story to yourself.
- Listen and repeat. Listen to a word you’re unfamiliar with, and then repeat it. Do it over and over again until you can speak the word. If you want it to be more challenging, listen to audiobooks and podcasts related to learning the language of your choice. This is less awkward than speaking to yourself, right?
To speak the language that you’re learning at a good level, a 500-word vocabulary is needed. If you have a 3,000-word vocabulary, you can smoothly participate in conversations about general topics. If you try to learn at least ten new words per day, it might be possible for you to be fluent in a year!
In learning the native language, you listen to sounds, understand its meaning, and arrange it to create sentences until you speak it. In new languages, there are those who read as a way to improve their speaking skills, and there are those who speak to enhance their reading skills. Which one are you?