What’s the most challenging aspect of language learning? Obviously, it’s your struggle to become a fluent speaker. You imagine yourself traveling in the country of your choice, speaking the language you’re learning. The sole thought of that situation makes you choke. All your efforts are focused towards learning new words and practicing speaking.
Naturally, it’s recommended to speak as much as possible when you want to improve your fluency. Talking to natives is an even better option. However, in all those straightforward efforts to boost our speaking skills, we tend to forget the non-obvious, but just as important aspect of language learning: writing.
There is an important correlation between writing and speaking skills. In this post, we’re going to explore that relation. In addition, you will get practical tips on how to improve your speaking skills through writing.
Writing: a Non-Obvious Practice for Boosting Speaking Skills
You must be wondering: how can writing help you speak better? Why would you waste time on writing essays, stories, and other types of content when you could use that time to practice speaking? These are only a few of facts that prove you can write your way to fluency.
- Writing Improves Your Grammar
There is an obvious connection between grammar and writing skills. That’s why you get all those assignments when learning a new language. Joanne McMillen, a writing coach at EduGeeksClub, explains how relevant writing is when you want to become a fluent speaker: “When you learn a new grammar rule, you write sentences to practice it. When your grammar and vocabulary skills allow you to write a whole essay, you’ve reached a point when you can easily convert those skills into speaking.”
When talking, you’re less concerned about grammar and more concerned about expressing your ideas. It’s okay to immerse yourself in that kind of practice when learning a language, since it makes you relax. However, if you want to achieve a high level of fluency, then you need to practice grammar, too. Here’s the best way to do that:
- Pay attention to grammar lessons.
- Complete all assignments.
- Start your own practice. You can start a blog where you’ll publish short stories, brief entries, or any other kind of content written in the language you’re learning. If you’re not ready to share your words with the world, you can always opt for Penzu – a private online diary. The important thing is to write as much as possible.
- Always check the grammar! This is not freestyle writing. You have to be aware of the habitual mistakes you make. The more you check and improve your writing, the more you’ll boost your grammar skills. Sooner or later, speaking will come naturally to you.
- Writing Is Important for Communication, Too
Jeremy Bullmore, former Director of Guardian Media Group, explains how important written communication is in the business world: “We train people to present – it’s a business skill. So why don’t we train them to write, clearly and persuasively? The case for teaching it seems so obvious.”
Written communication is more important than you think. If you plan to talk to business partners in the language you’re learning, you’ll communicate via emails and different types of contracts.
If you’re just a traveller interested in learning something new, you’ll still need to express yourself in writing. Connecting with native speakers is important for achieving fluency. One of the best ways to connect with them is through social media. Of course you can make video calls, but you’ll mostly chat and send emails. They have to be good.
If you reach a high level of writing skills, you can consider yourself to be fluent in that language. Here is how you can do that:
- Send emails! Learn how to express your feelings and thoughts in the new language. Write as you would speak if that person was in front of you. You’ll have time for editing before sending the message, so make sure it’s okay.
- Through the Writing Practice, You Can Set and Achieve Targets
Speaking doesn’t give you the structure that’s necessary for language learning. You don’t get to think about the mistakes you make and the grammar rules you use in the speech. Everything happens naturally and the words flow, just like they should be. That’s a great way to practice, but it doesn’t allow you to gain all skills needed for fluency.
Writing, on the other hand, gives you space for consideration. When you have doubts about a certain verb or phrase, you just check your textbook or a dictionary. You realize you can’t learn everything at once, so you’re taking things slow and practice putting each grammar rule in proper sentences.
- Set those grammar targets. It doesn’t matter whether you’re following a course or you’re trying to learn the language through a textbook. The targets are important in any case, so use the suggested module order as a guide. Here is an example of such target: write 20 complex sentences using conditional forms. As you make progress with the learning, you’ll keep setting the bar higher.
- Set writing targets, too. Clearly, you’ll start with sentences, but you shouldn’t stop there. Give yourself a target to write about an experience, complete an essay, and progress towards blog posts.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes. You’ll make them. The important thing is to acknowledge and correct those flaws. You can get revisions by your teacher, an online language tutor, a native speaker, or a professional editor if you’re writing really important content.
Write Your Way to Fluency!
You needed motivation to start writing more? The fact that writing makes you a more fluent speaker should be enough. Start writing a few sentences or an email per day, and you’ll inevitably see the progress. When you’re expected to speak, the words will flow because you’ll already know how to use them in proper sentences.
Micheal Gilmore is an ESL teacher and a marketing enthusiast. He loves discovering new approaches to teaching and reveal foreign language acquisition secrets. Follow him on Twitter.