Are you trying to learn a foreign language and you are wondering how to go about it? If Yes, it is possible that you may be worried and even ask a series of questions about which approach will work best for you. 

Well, reading and speaking are foundational skills essential for learning a language. so confusion does arise as to which should you choose first to learn a language. For this reason, you may be asking ‘should you learn to read or speak a language first?”

The truth is that there is no right or wrong way to come first because the right skill of learning a language is solely dependent on you. Therefore, the most appropriate way for you to learn a language is for you to first figure out your most preferred means of learning and working along with the same.

However, I believe reading and speaking work hand-in-hand in learning a language. So, in this post, I will be walking you through the skills of reading first and speaking first for learning a language to enable you to discover what suits you best in learning a language. Do enjoy an informative read.

Read First To Learn A Language

Some people submit to the opinion that you should read first the language you want to learn. Quite confusing right? But it has worked for some and might do for you too if your strength in learning is in reading. So let’s look at what is learning a language by reading and its importance in learning that language.

I believe your eyes are naturally traveling from left to right while you read this article because it is a known language to you, Isn’t it? This is because the words in this language are already ingrained in your memory, therefore, you have no trouble understanding. 

However, when reading a foreign language or an unfamiliar language, it is drastically different as you’re beginning to utter each letter of each word, from the first to the last. This is what reading is all about. 

Reading is an effortless process of learning that enables the brain to work best at word recognition. Though reading requires a lot of time for training and teaching as you need time to first study and absorb the words before learning to read them.

Reading to learn a language allows you to grasp information to fully recognize, comprehend, and understand the words and process every word.

Importance of Reading In Learning a Language

The following are the importance of reading in learning a language;

  • Reading is important in the expansion of your vocabulary. So if you want to learn a language, reading enables you to learn new words and phrases.
  • Reading a language enhances your writing abilities in the language. 
  • Reading books, articles, and novels is an enjoyable activity.
  • Reading allows you to absorb knowledge at your speed.
  • Reading to learn a language helps you to do away with the competition that forces you to keep up with another person.

Speak First To Learn a Language

Let’s turn the tables now because not everyone has succeeded in learning a foreign language by starting by learning how to read it. Some others made the quick decision to learn the language through direct experience of speaking. What then is speaking first to learn a language?

Speaking is a natural process of learning a language as the human brain is naturally wired to speak. Speaking is a form of communication that allows for the expression of emotions.

Did you learn to read before you learned to speak your native language as a child? No, between the ages of 7 months and 1 year, we began to learn to speak in little words. Then, between the ages of 5 and 6, we attained reading proficiency.

So, if you were to ask me again if you should speak first to learn a language first, I would respond and say Yes! Speaking a foreign language is simpler than reading it as speaking a foreign language will come more naturally to you than reading it.

Importance of Speaking in learning a language

Speaking is important in learning a language because;

  • Speaking the language first gives you control over their pace, a stronger incentive to pay attention, and a better possibility of getting constructive criticism.
  • The more frequently you speak in the language you are learning, the easier it will be for you to connect sounds to meaning.
  • Speaking provides practice for word pronunciation, appropriate intonation, and appropriate linguistic accent.
  • Speaking is all you need to do to become fluent in a language. When and where you can, use the language you are learning.

Now, you know what reading and speaking entail and their importance for you in learning a language, however, let’s discuss the practice of developing reading skills and speaking skills to learn a new language.

ALSO READ: Boy Vs Girl Language Development

Reading Skills For Learning a Language

If you want to learn a language by reading, then you must engage in the following reading skills.  

1. Read regularly

To develop your reading ability for learning a language, try to read every day if you can. By doing this, you can keep your mind sharp and prevent losing what you learned the day before. 

2. Read illustrated books in your target new language 

When you were a child, reading the illustrations of your favorite fairy tales helped you learn the language. Therefore, if you want to read first to learn a new language, pictures in books make it easier for you to follow along.

3. Watch movies and shows in your target new language

Watch it with subtitles, of course! Take note of their pronunciation, intonation, and use of the phrases and words in actual conversation. Watch it several times until you are comfortable with the words.

4. Memorize words in the new language daily

Practice memorizing at least 30 words or phrases in your target language daily. This will speed up the process of reading and retentive memory.

5. Ask yourself questions while reading

You delve deeper into the significance of what you read the more you analyze it. By doing so, you can verify for yourself that you comprehend what you’re reading. 

To concentrate more on the topic, try asking questions like “what’s happening right now?” or perhaps “what does this circumstance mean?”

6. Avoid distractions while reading

Try to set aside a specific time and location for reading if you wish to read more to improve your language skills. It ought to be tidy, well-lit, and silent. You’ll be able to focus better while reading as a result.

7. Speaking skills for learning a language

If you want to develop your speaking skills to learn a language, do the following;

8. Create a schedule

If you learn a language by speaking, you must set a schedule as to when you want to be very fluent in that language as this will help overcome distractions.

9. Listen and repeat words

After hearing a word you’re not familiar with, repeat it. Repeat the process until you can utter the word. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks about learning the language of your choice.

10. Find a language coach 

Coaching helps you to get the tools you need to overcome obstacles and motivates you to keep working toward your ultimate language goal. Every day, your coach will help you by introducing new words or phrases to you which will be advantageous because they are knowledgeable in your target language.

11. Look for learning or conversation partners

Engaging with others who share your objectives is more enjoyable because doing so will hasten your development when your loved ones are behind you. Therefore, look for groups for your target language and join.

12. Strive more for fluency than accuracy

You must value fluency; the act of freely expressing the language as you understand than accuracy; the act of getting the right vocabulary and intonations to fully learn a language by speaking.

In Conclusion 

Trying to learn a language different from what you are familiar with and you are asking ‘Should you learn to read or speak a language first?’ Well, reading and speaking are indeed important basic skills in learning a language and I believe they should be engaged together in learning a language. 

However, the choice of which should come first is largely dependent on what you find best doing at the moment based on your circumstances or your reasons for learning a new language. 

Worthy of you to know is that reading alone will not make you fluent in the language you want to learn if you don’t know how to speak the language. 

Reading skills such as reading regularly illustrated books or comic books in the new language, watching movies, and memorizing the words or phrases you see will help a lot in learning a language by reading. However, continually engaging in conversations in the new language with a partner or language coach, listening, and repeating words will help you gain fluency in the language by speaking.

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