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Speaking vs. Listening, Writing vs. Reading

Why is listening in a foreign language always easier than speaking? Why does reading in a foreign language seem so much easier than writing?

That's because your brain is doing different work in each context.

When you listen and when you read, you are taking in information. You are receiving information, a passive form of using your new language.

However, when you speak or write, you are actively expressing your own unique ideas. Literally, you are creating and formatting new information!

This is why I encourage my students to practice speaking and writing as much as possible, whether it be in English, Spanish, or whatever their new language is. For example, if you usually write your grocery list in English, try writing it in Spanish! Do you know someone who is bilingual? Try talking to them in your new language! They will appreciate you taking the time to converse with them in their native tongue, and your brain will appreciate that you are finally putting to good use all those grammar and vocabulary drills you work so hard on! Even just repeating words and phrases out loud is like doing exercise for your brain. Then, when you're in a more public setting, you will be confident in expressing yourself. Don't worry about speaking perfectly --- it's through mistakes that we learn, as well. What counts most is that when you start to write and speak in your new language, you liberate all the grammar, vocabulary and cultural knowledge trapped inside. In turn, you reinforce what you've learned and build confidence. Start today and you will be amazed at how fun and rewarding practicing your new language can be!

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