Why rush to only speak incorrectly?

Very often I receive the offers from the students to speak with them - and only to speak, they don’t want to read, to listen or to write.
In this article I try to show why it is incorrectly for the acquisition of the new language.
Here is the link to the English version:

Besides, you can find in the Russian library the Russion version under the name:
Почему неправильно стремиться только говорить?

Good luck!



You are right!

So many emotions!.. Talk, please as much as you would like!
My statement as a teacher is: It isn’t good, it is even stupid to be restricted only by talking while you are learning a new language.
You have to read and to listen a lot and sometimes to write in order to know a foreign language well.
Unfortunately, some beginners don’t understand it, they would like only to speak and nothing more - and that’s why their knowledge is very limited.

Talking always includes listening. Human interaction is what it is all about. If anyone wants only to talk, he can talk to a mirror! Lots of languages still have no written form. People nevertheless learn to communicate in them.

I fully agree with that Evgueny on this. I am never in a hurry to start speaking. I find language learning most effective and enjoyable when I am doing things that are meaningful. Trying to maintain a conversation when I barely understand what people are saying, and don’t have enough words to express any meaningful idea, is not enjoyable for me. I would rather commit myself to listening, reading and acquiring vocabulary so that I can move as quickly as possible into meaningful content and meaningful exchanges with native speakers. I don’t wait until I am perfect in the language, I wait usually a few months depending on the language.

I recognize that this is personal and other people have other preferences. I realize as well that speaking necessarily involves listening. However the advantage of listening the way we do LingQ, is that we have a transcript and we have the opportunity to learn the words and phrases that we need. A conversation with a native speaker has more resonance than listening to audio files, however if the language content is too limited, because of my low level in the language, then I prefer to listen to audio files.

I am quite motivated, in the early stages, to get myself to a level where I can engage in meaningful exchanges with native speakers. I have already had conversations in Korean, but in the upcoming 90 day challenge, I will probably wait a month before starting conversations. Then I believe I will be able to have quite intense exchanges in the language.


Thank you so much for this thread, Evgueny, for Steve’s reply too. I have been quite fearful during the last 20 or so hours of having committed to the 90-Day Challenge and then believing that speaking played a huge part.

I have been learning French since October and really need the push of the Challenge to get me further, but I’m finding that reading and listening are plenty enough at present to help me get a feel for the language I so wish to learn.

I know one language is plenty to learn at one time, but I also really want to learn German. However, as I’m no spring chicken and also have an ailment that impedes life, not to mention learning, at times, by the time I have learned French to a good enough level, I’d be that much older again to then begin German. So, for now, just to be able to listen and read both languages (1 week of French then 1 of German, well, after the Challenge) is enough. Suffice to say, I am delighted, at this stage not to need to speak either. Many thanks indeed.

I should add, with regard to the challenge, that there is no obligation to produce videos of oneself speaking the language. Some people enjoy doing this. I will be producing a lot of videos since I am the head cheerleader. However, language learning is personal, and people should just commit to becoming more active with the language, doing the activities that they prefer doing.

1 Like

Thank you so very much for that absolute clarification, Steve, I so appreciate you coming back to me on that, to others also who may be wondering how they were going to cope. I will do as much as I possibly can now - and furthermore enjoy it. Thank you again.

Hello to all of you, I am the first ESL poster here :slight_smile:
Generally speaking, most of ESL people (especially the youngest) are eager to talk with native or advanced ESL persons.
In my honest opinion, this is totally wrong. No doubt, I always had a desire to speak with experts and professionals, but I prefer to avoid adding them on Skype.
I am a man who wants the perfect result, so I am not ready to add someone like Mr evgueny40 or steve on Skype.
On the other hand, I am revising the English grammar slowly step by step, and sometimes I practise my listening skills by watching videos on Youtube.

I also agree with Evgueny and Steve that wanting to speak before having any idea at all how the language works and with almost no vocabulary is not a good method to use here at LingQ. Most likely the tutor will expect the learner to be able to formulate sentences and express his or her ideas. I myself am taking this approach to learning. I have learned almost all my German on LingQ and am probably one of the slowest to speak of all members of our LingQ community. I have been learning for two and a half years, and I have done very little conversational speaking. My reading and listening skills have got to the stage where I can read almost every sentence in a long popular novel with understanding. As for speaking, I read aloud and speak along with or after the speakers on our LingQ lessons. The result so far has been that I could be quite easily understood when I was in Germany just recently, so long as the vocabulary came into my head when I needed it.

Steve: Yes, of course, listening to LingQ lessons does give a much wider content than conversation usually does. It can also be done for as much time in the day as the learner can put in to it. Thanks for pointing this out.

There are, however, other ways to learn, especially in the early stages and when written and spoken material is not available. One method involves working with a language resource person. There are many ideas for using this approach on the following site, which was quoted by another LingQ member somewhere on the forum recently: http://www-01.sil.org/lingualinks/languagelearning/LanguageLearning.htm This method is especially useful for languages with no or very limited written or printed resources. It does involve a lot of time with a very patient language resource person. For that reason it it probably not a good approach to try on LingQ.

Ahh, it’s reassuring to read this thread! I’ve been learning German for 3 years now, and while my German reading has dramatically improved in that time, I am not at all confident in writing or speaking. I struggle to think of the words to write/say, but if you give me something simple to read I could say it & understand it.

I can understand people wanting to speak, even badly. The best German conversation I’ve had was with a German taxi driver who spoke very little English, and between us we stumbled through a delightful but completely incorrect conversation with the few words we could think of in each language. But I’d never want to only speak. I love reading, and especially listening… so many fantastic German rock bands that I love (Unheilig’s album Große Freiheit is just amazing, with some moving lyrics).

I signed up for the 90-day Challenge, and also panicked when I realized today how much effort might be required (for me learning 231 words & speaking for 42 minutes per week, eek!) But ambitious challenges are inspiring, I might not hit all the goals but I’ll have fun trying.

It is not a matter of sages, but of results. Following what we enjoy doing will, I think, deliver better results in the long run.

1 Like

Several people wanted me to give them a link to the Russian version of this article
“Почему неправильно стремиться только говорить” -
this is the link:

Of course, speaking is also very important like a natural form of a human communication.
I’ve written only that it’s strange to restrict the whole language of learning with speaking especially if the student knows only a few words. In this first period of learning reading and listening a lot more important and more productive.
But it would be also strange to deny the importance of speaking as a part of our life.

@ kimojima

“If they don’t start communicating at some time, they never will.”

I award you the prize for tautology of the year!


1 Like

My attitude is following.

Reading and listening enjoyable and interesting content is a task № 1 during all the way of acquisition a language (it really is important even in your native one).
I do not will try to have a conversation with a native from the day one (nor at tenth day also). It would be a nonsense and waste of time. I can only say aloud some words and phrases to myself aloud.
A few months later, when I feel I “know” some “core” words and phrases (maybe it will be 5000), I will try to speak a little with a native via Skype.
Much before speaking, Ill try to write some to myself or in forums (like LingQs forum - people here will excuse me for my mistakes).
And I want to say, on the other hand, I would not delay to try speaking and writing too long (waiting when my vocabulary grows enough). But if you want to speak from the day one - do it if you enjoy it - but for me its a waste of time (though its may be funny).

As researches show we learn new words and phrases from reading (S. Krashen). I feel it sounds right.

@kimo - laughing here at the image of our friend “grumpy Kimo reading at home alone from a book wearing his ‘Silent Period’ badge of honour”

But then…in the sweltering heat, everything’s humorous! ^^

I agree with Kimo that we sometimes need to be nudged out of our comfort zone, and we need to develop some new habits sometimes. I encourage people to start speaking, without worry about how they sound, and to speak more and more, but not to neglect their input activities. I look forward to seeing how people do in the 90 day challenge.

Gestapo? I often hear this term used to discredit the views of others. It is a bit like the terms fascist, racist, etc. that are bandied about as substitutes for genuine discussion. Not a good practice, in my view, since these words have real meanings, and the real meanings have awful histories associated with them. It is best to stick to the issues.

Evgueny is an experienced teacher whose advise is well worth listening to.

I look forward to when the forum will be back to normal so i can edit my posts!

sdom posting to forums helps too. Especially to enrich (and remind) vocabulary. In addition it is easier than any conversation because learner has plenty of time to edit his/her post again and again.

1 Like