Reading vs Speaking

I am currently learning Swedish and French. When I read both of them it feels much harder to understand all the small words and structures compared to when I listen to the language. Should this fact bother me or should I just move on. Because, sometimes I feel like I am never going to understand when to use “då” in Swedish or “en” and “y” (for “it/that” and “there”) in French. Overall I understand about say 80% of what I read.

I often feel the same way. The small words and the general flow of the language is easier to pick up on when we listen. I think it’s a matter of just continuing to read and listen to the same content, and occasionally review the grammar explanations for how these words are used. With the new version of LingQ which will be released , hopefully, next week you will get automatic text to speech. I find it very useful when reading on the new version to save phrases just in order to hear the text to speech. If I save a couple of words and the phrase still doesn’t make sense, I often find that when I save the phrase and hear the text to speech of that phrase it makes more sense and has a tendency to stick with me.


Thank you for your thoughts!

I am having this problem with Japanese. It seems like no matter how many grammar explanations I read, or simple examples of this particle or that pattern… I just can’t make any sense of them when I read. Explanations are vague and nailing down meanings of a given specific sentence is really hard to do just with translation and grammar. Real conversational sentences just don’t seem to behave in a straightforward way like they do in the textbook.

I can’t tell if a given particle or word is an important indicator or just a simple “well, um, uhh”, connector kind of thing. It seems to make a little bit more sense when you listen in full time though. As different as it looks when you read it, it doesn’t seem like Japanese are thinking with a different train of thought, it just sounds like people having the exact same conversations as everyone else. With that it, can’t be impossible for an american anglophone to understand.

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I think what is difficult for our monkey brains to grasp, is how our we can learn things without being directly telegraphed the explanation. Every thing we learn in school, we learn by studying textbooks and trying to memorize things for tests. It can be a bit of a mental battle for me when it comes to Japanese: I’ll try reading through something knowing that I don’t understand much of it, and my brain will keep telling me “stop: what is that? I don’t understand this. this doesn’t make sense. please explain this phrase before we go on”. It’s hard to just keep going and know that you are somehow learning even when you straight up don’t understand what you are reading, nor can find explanations when phrase translations are often incomprehensible word salad.

I just keep thinking back to my guitar, whereby I remember staring at a book of scales and chords and not understanding any of it, to know knowing what it means and how to play them… simply by lots of playing and improvising. I don’t know really know how I was able to learn guitar, but I did somehow.

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It might be worth your while to have a session with a tutor every now and then. If you throw some text up here, I would be happy to comment on the things that cause you trouble. I am finding Korean to be even more of a challenge in that regard.


I sometimes experience the same feeling watching American TV dramas. I often cannot understand what the actors are speaking, whereas CNN news programs and the like are relatively easy to understand.

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Can you give an example :smiley:
I might know what you mean.

Unfortunately, I cannot show you what I could not get because I could not get it. Black and white movies produced about seventy years ago in Hollywood are less hard to understand.

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I recommend watching the “matrix”. They speak sort of like robots in that movie and fairly slow. It will be easier to understand… but it isn’t a great choice for learning natural speech.

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Good call! I appreciate that. I’m also glad I’m not the only one who is having trouble with an Asian language. My friend said that she was also having lot’s of trouble with korean.

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It probably indicates you need to read more, but you’re doing that anyway, so it will eventually work itself out. It’s not a reason to reduce listening in order to spend more time on reading, imo.

Actually I’ve come to think of listening as the purest and most important source of input, and all other skills, including reading, to be in support of understanding this input. I’m no linguist, so this might not be right from a scientific point of view, but I think it lets me see things in the correct light for my own goals; it helps me prioritize.


thank you :slight_smile: can I ask you how do you have so many words in Russian. I have barely 9000 in Swedish and I import a lot of news articles almost daily. Is there just so much already available content for russian on lingq?

There is quite a bit of intermediate Russian content here. I used the Russian Podcasts and LingQ Russian series here, and then mainly read scripts from the series кухня and интерны found on this site:

ok :smiley:

Russian has more conjugations, declinations and whatnot than Swedish though. 9000 Swedish words might contain more individual root words than 26000 Russian words.


ok thank you for elaborating.

The chart on this page addresses this subject. It looks like 9000 Swedish words is roughly equal to 15000 Russian words here.

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