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In which way(s) do you learn a language faster? (hearing, reading, speaking, or writing?)

I am curious on which ways you personally feel that you learn a new language faster. Whether that is via hearing the language spoken, reading the language, speaking the language, and/or by writing the language.

Maybe there is even a specific combination of 2+ mechanisms, which help you build your language skills faster.

Just so curious, because I am wondering what would work best for me too.


March 24, 2017



Judging from a number of language learning blogs that I've come across and read from time to time. The most effective way to quickly USE a language is to active listen and speak.

Reading is singular and passive. You will accumulate a great vocabulary, learn grammar but as too many high school and universities students realized, it will only get you so far. You can speak fluent Spanish without ever learning the word refunfuñar or how to properly conjugate difficult irregular verbs on paper. You can go online and find a number of videos of Japanese/Korean students discussing their difficulty speaking English after passing TOEFL or doing well in their university. UPDATE: Why Korean and Japanese Students Can't Speak English . . . 4+ minute video

Writing like reading will not help you pronounce the correct word or quickly answer a question. However, I would state from experience that chatting online (via text) is fun and will help you string together words in your head . . . but it is not speaking.

I would guess that most language learners want to be able to speak more than anything else. You don't learn how to ride a bicycle by studying the mechanics of its motion or reading the manual. You must get on it. There are many great musicians that can mimic masters, but can not read a sheet of music. Yes, some of those aforementioned musicians later on eventually realize the importance of learning the grammar of their craft.

Actively listen and go out there in the world (or online) and SPEAK to human beings. It is rewarding and fun.


Additionally, if you don't interact with native speakers, you end up sound unnatural. There are many, many, signs in Asian countries with terrible word-for-word translated English.


For me is speaking and writing. I have read that speaking is the most demanding activity, you have to think, recall words, understand and talk.


And all in real time.


A number of years ago, I was learning Japanese with a teacher. I could read and understand and I could do the grammar drills, but I was not really progressing as fast as I had hoped. I just wasn't internalizing the language. We then included conversation time at the beginning of the class. At first, it was really hard and I could only talk for a minute or two. Over a period of some months I gradually got better and more confident, and the time increased to half an hour or more of just talking. Although this cut into the learning part of the lesson, I found that I was progressing much more quickly than I had been before. I now believe that speaking practice really important for progressing. Reading helps with learning vocabulary, and listening with pronunciation but until you use the language you are not going to really understand it.


Thank you for sharing. This process is EXACTLY what happened to me when I was learning French, with my professor. Adding those speaking exercises increased my fluency level and confidence DRAMATICALLY. I just don't know how to do this type of structured conversation OUTSIDE of university and in my daily life. :(


Personally, I like reading. Even though it's not the most effective method, I find it the most enjoyable and also the most accessible (my country is very monolingual and homogenous)


Personally I learn quickest by reading. I find it impossible to remember a word until I have a visual of it, and by reading you absorb so many more words and a much deeper level of familiarity with grammar. So by the time I need to use a certain grammatical structure when writing or speaking, I've read it so many times it's not hard for my brain to piece it together.

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