The Disconnect Between Speaking, Reading, and Writing

Language, Language classes, Language fluency, Language learning, Language skills, Speaking tests

Tips from a Language Lover

One problem I noticed early on in my language learning career was that I was always better and more comfortable reading than writing and especially speaking.

One problem I noticed early on in my language learning career was that I was
always better and more comfortable reading and writing than speaking.

I never really had much trouble writing short paragraphs and reading comprehension
exercises were fairly easy. Heck, when I had to write a research paper, my only
real concern was getting close to the required length.

But speaking was a completely different monster. Most times when I was asked
a question in class, I would respond with my go-to phrase “je ne sais
pas
” (I don’t know). Listening exercises were a special torture
because I was so used to hearing my classmates slowly pronounce every single
syllable with a weak to non-existent accent that hearing a native…

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syntactic priming

syntactic priming

Keep It Simple Activities

Syntactic priming is the process that takes place when we make predictions upon hearing certain grammatical patterns which guide us to guess the string of words that are more likely to be uttered next based on our previous encounters with those patterns. Basically we are constantly building sentences based on what we hear, which are next confirmed or then reformulated. We hypothesise. We fill gaps. This is one of the reasons why listening -far from being a receptive process- is very much an active skill.

A very productive activity for any language level is to have students engaged in some “syntactiv priming” from a reading passage or the transcript of a listening extract from the textbook after it has been read or listened to and they have done some work around it.

Here is an extract from a reading passage from Sure Intermediate, Student’s Book, Helbling English. Free sample from…

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