April 26, 2010
Why input trumps output in language learning.
Some arguments in favour of input. I am sure there are many more.
- We need to understand before we can speak.
- I would rather understand well and stumble when I speak than the reverse.
- If we can produce intelligible phrases and do not understand the answers, our conversations will not last long.
- Passive vocabulary is powerful, necessary, and always much larger than our active vocabulary of the words we like to use.
- The more we understand, and the more words we have, even passively, the more interesting our interaction with the language and the more words we can acquire.
- If we understand most of a text, or conversation, it is easier to pick up the words and phrases we do not yet know.
- The acquisition of passive vocabulary through input, is like putting the pieces of the jig-saw together. Gradually the picture becomes clearer.
- Input is easy to arrange. We can listen and read anywhere and anytime.
- Input is interesting, if we choose content that is meaningful to us.
- If we develop the habit of input learning we become independent.
- Input learning makes it easy to review our languages, and maintain them.
- Through input learning, especially with authentic content. we learn not only the language, but many more things.
- At any time in our input learning activities, we can decide to speak or write, to practice what we have learned.
- Of course we need to speak a lot, in order to speak well, but our progress in speaking will be smoother if we invest time in input, and continue doing so.
- Our interaction with any language, including our own, is mostly as listeners and readers.
- If we are good listeners and readers, our output skills will have a sound base.
One of my goals in any language learning project is to read a full length book in that language. Getting there is a powerful moment of achievement, an Everest.
I could go on….