You Can Read Well, But Can’t Speak?

Language learners often say they read well but can’t speak much.  Thanks to this video, I have come to the surprising realization that language learners are incorrect when they say that. No one can read well, but can’t speak well.

What Good Reading Is, And What It Is Not

When you read things meant for native speakers in your target language, do you have to stop and think?  Do you go back to reread?  Use Google Translate?   Get tired of reading after a handful of sentences (or less).  Maybe you mostly stick with learners-materials.

Bad news: You can’t read well.

“But I can understand all the sentences in my language course,” you protest. The bar for reading well is much higher than you think.

If you could read well, you could pick up any book in your target language, and read a chapter with no problem.  You could get any magazine, or newspaper and read an article with normal speed.  You’d understand it easily, and you wouldn’t need a dictionary.

Can you imagine a person who could read well but couldn’t speak?  No. People who read well, speak well.

Brace yourself.  Do you know what this means?

You Can’t Speak Well AND You Can’t Read Well Either


I don’t tell you this to insult you.  I’m in the same boat with you (as of March 2019)

Now that we know our reading is subpar, we can increase our efforts in reading without worrying that we are ‘reading too much’ and ‘need to stop reading, since we’re so good at it already.’ Ha!

When we can read well, we can speak well.  The two go hand-in-hand.  Keep listening to your target language, and keep reading.


How to Learn to Read

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