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Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 11 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
Reading Writing Speaking Listening Words

Every language in the world comprises four basic principles. It does not matter what sort of language it is, where it is from and how it is structured – they are all made up of reading, writing, speaking and listening. These four principles are intrinsically linked but also very different. They must all be mastered to become fluent in a language but they all have their own unique traits. People can be good at one and poor at another.

But at the same time, there is little chance of learning a language well if the person learning does not master all four. They are linked and knowledge of each discipline in one language aids understanding and proficiency in another.


Reading may well be the first discipline that a new student of a language comes into contact with. Seeing the words of a language on paper will often be the first place people see the language, at least knowingly. It is here, in this discipline, that learners will begin to see how the language is out together and how the sentences are formed and words come together to make sense.Reading is all about understanding the written word and therefore it is only natural that once you have been reading for a while you will want to progress to writing.


Writing is where the language learner starts to actually create language themselves. It may be writing a letter or a shirt anecdote from their teacher but when the student puts pen to paper they begin to use the language for themselves as well as understand it as they do in reading. Writing has the big advantage that when something has been written down, it can be revised and worked at until correct, thus helping the learner to eradicate their mistakes – something which cannot be done when the learner starts speaking.


Speaking is the most used aspect of language for most people. Unfortunately, it is also pretty tricky to master. A person who speaks a foreign language has no time to correct themselves – once the words have been spoken, they are out there, right or wrong. Speaking to other people who are fluent in the language is the only way to get better and practice in this field really does make perfect. But in all truth, the only way to perfect speaking skills to hold conversations and to do that one must be able to listen as well.


Listening is probably the hardest discipline to master for new speakers of a language. It is an interpreting discipline like reading but unlike reading, there is no time to re read the words and look them up. It is a verbal discipline like speaking, but you are not in control and must understand what is being said. But until you can listen to, and follow, a conversation in the language you are learning, you will never be truly fluent.

There is no middle ground with languages. A person who can understand the spoken word should be able to understand the written word. And likewise, if someone can write the language, they should be able to speak it as well. The four all go hand in hand and are inextricable linked. A fluent speaker can perform all four disciplines – some may be harder than others – but to converse with native speakers, they must all be mastered eventually.

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Strong language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening)
popal - 25-Aug-12 @ 5:34 PM
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