lushlala

Why do most people find it easier to write than speak a language?

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I always find that when I'm learning a foreign language, I pretty much get the basics quickly. However, I tend to lack in confidence in terms of actually speaking it. Yet I know exactly what I want to say, and can write it without any problem whatsoever. I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still a bit shy and wary of making mistakes! Does any of you feel the same?

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I think people find it easier because writing it down you can see the letters (or symbols) that make certain sounds. Then your brain recognizes this fact and puts two and two together when you're reading. Then you may just happen to lose confidence when speaking it because you don't have the paper to look at and your brain isn't coping with the information as much as you can speak it.

Could be wrong. Maybe someone else knows?  :smile:

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I'm guessing that this is probably more common than we think. I myself also feel self conscious when I have to speak a foreign language in fear that I will mispronounce words and will therefore look like an idiot, and if I could only learn and remember writing better than speaking I'd probably prefer it, but I think I do better with speaking even if I have a hard time with pronunciations sometimes.

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I attribute this to fear. With regards to writing, it's just you and the written word. There's no one to judge you (at least not immediately) when you write. As you have a visual image of your idea, you can readily edit it when you find something is off. Unlike when you're speaking, the moment you say something, there's no going back on your word. If you've mispronounced or said something grammatically wrong, then it's readily out there. That's where the fear of judgment kicks in. You immediately fear that the people who've heard you might say something negative because you've said something in blunder.

Performance anxiety?

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I agree with what others have said here.  If you're writing a language, then no one knows whether your pronunciation is correct or not, they are just reading what you have written. 

I myself find it kind of difficult to write different languages as well, but as the saying goes, and as you wrote, practice makes perfect. 

Learning a different language takes time and patience.  Some people may not want to speak a new language because they feel they have not practiced enough in order to sound half-way decent. 

As with most things, I think that with practice comes confidence.

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Yes, I actually think and feel the same, because speaking does not make room to think about what you have to say, while writing gives you more time to think before putting into words what you want to say.

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I think people find it easier because writing it down you can see the letters (or symbols) that make certain sounds. Then your brain recognizes this fact and puts two and two together when you're reading. Then you may just happen to lose confidence when speaking it because you don't have the paper to look at and your brain isn't coping with the information as much as you can speak it.

Could be wrong. Maybe someone else knows?  :smile:

[/quote

It does kind of make sense. I know it sounds silly, but I tend to clam up and freeze when I have to speak a foreign language I'm not fluent in. Even when I know exactly what I want to say!

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I always find that when I'm learning a foreign language, I pretty much get the basics quickly. However, I tend to lack in confidence in terms of actually speaking it. Yet I know exactly what I want to say, and can write it without any problem whatsoever. I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still a bit shy and wary of making mistakes! Does any of you feel the same?

because when you read and write, it is solo, when you have to speak and listen, you are being ´judged´ by another person in real time.  I also think we have learned to learn visually.. so it just comes naturally.  I can read and write spanish well, and I can speak it, but the hardest is to listening because most of the time the speaker makes no effort to simplify things by avoiding slang.

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I always find that when I'm learning a foreign language, I pretty much get the basics quickly. However, I tend to lack in confidence in terms of actually speaking it. Yet I know exactly what I want to say, and can write it without any problem whatsoever. I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still a bit shy and wary of making mistakes! Does any of you feel the same?

I do feel the same way but the fear of making mistakes is precisely why it's harder to speak in an unfamiliar language than simply writing things down, I think. Because speaking is pretty requires spontaneity so the chances of being wrong are higher, and the chances of being embarrassed for the mistake is more pronounced.

Speaking is instantaneous (unless you put fillers in between every other word) so you can't filter out your speech as much. There's also the fact that everyone has an accent that may or may not be understandable to native speakers. Contrast to that, when you write, you can think of what you want to say more carefully and when you end up with the wrong word, you can just cross it out or just delete it.  Misspellings are easier to spot when rereading too, so there's an easier time to edit them out.

Everyone has a fear of being wrong and speaking provides a higher chance of making mistakes. Usually, people feel an uneasiness for that which leads to them not trying at all.

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I'm guessing that this is probably more common than we think. I myself also feel self conscious when I have to speak a foreign language in fear that I will mispronounce words and will therefore look like an xxx, and if I could only learn and remember writing better than speaking I'd probably prefer it, but I think I do better with speaking even if I have a hard time with pronunciations sometimes.

I think that's a better position to be in! You're so lucky. I'd rather be better at speaking than writing, to be honest. -and you're right; it's partly because I feel self conscious and don't want to make mistakes. But people (native speakers) are usually impressed and don't judge. They just like to hear a foreigner making an effort to learn their language and are always eager to help with corrections. So I don't understand why I let it get to me so much!!

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I attribute this to fear. With regards to writing, it's just you and the written word. There's no one to judge you (at least not immediately) when you write. As you have a visual image of your idea, you can readily edit it when you find something is off. Unlike when you're speaking, the moment you say something, there's no going back on your word. If you've mispronounced or said something grammatically wrong, then it's readily out there. That's where the fear of judgment kicks in. You immediately fear that the people who've heard you might say something negative because you've said something in blunder.

Performance anxiety?

That's so true! I actually feel slightly sick and get sweaty palms, sometimes. I'm not so bad on a one to one basis. But when I used to take French at uni, and I had to do an oral presentation; I used to really hate it. Granted I'm not a good public speaker anyway. Now combined with speaking a language I'm not so confident speaking; lethal combination lol

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Yes, I actually think and feel the same, because speaking does not make room to think about what you have to say, while writing gives you more time to think before putting into words what you want to say.

When you're writing, you also have the luxury of going back and correcting mistakes. When we speak, once we've put it out there we can't take it back! Like Petrushka said, chances of making mistakes are higher when we're speaking as opposed to writing.

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because when you read and write, it is solo, when you have to speak and listen, you are being ´judged´ by another person in real time.  I also think we have learned to learn visually.. so it just comes naturally.  I can read and write spanish well, and I can speak it, but the hardest is to listening because most of the time the speaker makes no effort to simplify things by avoiding slang.

Well done on your Spanish! You mention a very valid point there too, about it being hard to listen to native speakers. I don't know about you, but I find native speakers can speak very fast and that can make it very hard to follow! I then try to also lip read, which can across as if I'm being flirty lol

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I always find that when I'm learning a foreign language, I pretty much get the basics quickly. However, I tend to lack in confidence in terms of actually speaking it. Yet I know exactly what I want to say, and can write it without any problem whatsoever. I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still a bit shy and wary of making mistakes! Does any of you feel the same?

I agree with you here lushlala, I think it boils down to confidence with pronunciation as well as trying to actually build a sentence. With writing there is not much pressure that comes with it as you can take more time figuring out how to construct particular sentences and perfecting them.

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I guess it’s just a matter of self confidence. Sometimes I don’t want to speak a foreign language infront of other native speakers of that certain language because it makes me feel like I’ll pronounce it wrong or that I’m not confident enough that I’ll be able to speak it properly but ofcourse I can write it.

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Maybe I'm a weirdo but writing is also the last thing I care about in language learning. I'm testing in Italian at the b2 level in reading and speaking but my writing is probably a2. Mainly I think for me I'm learning languages in survival mode, I need to speak, read and understand so those things take priority. The easiest for me is reading though, then understanding then speech and hopefully one day, writing.

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A lot of the time people are embarrassed about pronouncing words wrong, especially if you are speaking to someone who that is their native language. It is much easier to write things down on paper so you can visualize it.

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I guess it’s just a matter of self confidence. Sometimes I don’t want to speak a foreign language infront of other native speakers of that certain language because it makes me feel like I’ll pronounce it wrong or that I’m not confident enough that I’ll be able to speak it properly but ofcourse I can write it.

This a huge factor for me too, @elenamarie! But if you think about it, it's just silly lol I always find that native speakers are easily impressed and very eager to guide you along. But still, that self conscious thing ALWAYS creeps in!

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When speaking, you have less time to process what you want to say.  Unlike with writing, you have more time to formulate what you'd like to write down, and when you've already written it down, you still have an opportunity to see it and even change it if it's incorrect.  In other words, the process of writing is much longer compared to speaking and you get more opportunity to actually correct yourself in writing.

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Yes, I actually think and feel the same, because speaking does not make room to think about what you have to say, while writing gives you more time to think before putting into words what you want to say.

You're right. Even though typing and speaking might seem like they are of the same speed on a surface level, I think writing is easier because it is personal. While speaking  you are concerned about how your words will be sent to the person you are talking to, whereas when you are writing, you are mostly just writing down thoughts and the regard for how it comes across only comes second.

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It's self confidence really. Speaking is pretty tough for a beginner, since with native speakers, they speak really fast so it's harder to hear. Also, when carrying a conversation, you have to come up with words on the fly, so if you don't have a good vocab, then it's VERY difficult to have a good conversation

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When you're writing, you also have the luxury of going back and correcting mistakes. When we speak, once we've put it out there we can't take it back! Like Petrushka said, chances of making mistakes are higher when we're speaking as opposed to writing.

Yeah, I agree. I guess we should try to stall our speaking to avoid making mistakes by saying "um", "uh" as we think, filter and correct the words that we are about to say.

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Yeah, I agree. I guess we should try to stall our speaking to avoid making mistakes by saying "um", "uh" as we think, filter and correct the words that we are about to say.

I read that saying filler words like "um" makes us seem a little flustered than anything. It's better to pause and collect your thoughts

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I always find that when I'm learning a foreign language, I pretty much get the basics quickly. However, I tend to lack in confidence in terms of actually speaking it. Yet I know exactly what I want to say, and can write it without any problem whatsoever. I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still a bit shy and wary of making mistakes! Does any of you feel the same?

I agree with all the posts in this thread.  I would like to add my insight gained from reading this interesting article about the difference between reading (receptive) and speaking (productive) when learning a new language.  To fully comprehend this subject, I appreciated how the author separated the attributes of listening (receptive) and writing (productive).

To break this down in a more clear format, a chart was included in the explanation.  Speaking and listening falls under the auditory function of our brain; whereas, writing and reading is a written (visual) function.  Furthermore, writing and speaking is a active form of learning a new language.  In contrast, to reading and listening being a passive form of communication.

The ability for the cognitive parts of our brain to recall (in order to speak a new language) vs recognize words (read) is easier for some people.  In addition, like you and others pointed out, it all boils down to practice and confidence. 

I hope, as I embark on my new journey in learning other languages, to not fall into the trap of feeling overwhelmed and give up too easily!

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I have the same issues. I prefer writing than speaking when I use a foreign language. Mostly, my reason is because when I write, I can spot my mistake and correct the same. I still have the time to correct myself. While if I am speaking, I have already blurted it out before I realized the mistake I have made. Much more, I also worry with my pronunciation.

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