Reading vs Listening

G’day, how are things going mate? Today, I am going to talk about the difference between Reading and Listening for English learning. It appears to be true that some of you might be good at Reading but not at Listening, whereas some are opposite. Although Reading a physical book and listening to the audiobook are two different paths that lead to the same destination, why does this sort of disparity occur? Let’s demystify this, shall we?

When it comes to Reading, even if you haven’t understood the 44 sounds of pronunciation, nor can you pronounce them properly, you still probably and technically read English articles and books

It’s dead simple, right? If you have understood a wide range of vocabularies and their meanings and usage, then you can read books, journals and other sorts of English articles. And probably no problem at all. But of course, if you know the sounds of the words that you are reading through right now, then it’ll be a more valuable asset to your Reading routine practice. For instance, if you can read them aloud with a clear pronunciation, it’s going to be much easier and smoother to read and understand the gist of what you are reading. Technically it’s possible to read without having an understanding of pronunciation, but simultaneously you sort of block yourself from listening and speaking. The solution: Ideally you understand the 44 sounds, and then go for memorising vocabularies.

You can probably read English books if you know etymological roots and word sequences, it’ll be no problem about understanding the gist of the contents from a grammatical perspective at all

You know some etymological roots such as prefix/suffix and word sequences, which are good enough for you to be able to read English sentences. This is because that even if you can’t pronounce words, you still can guess the words by considering word roots and your basic vocabularies, so that you can read it. And, in terms of word sequences, this is a bit of grammar like what sort of word comes first, followed by what? Obviously, S(ubject) comes first, followed by V(erb), and then finally O(bject). This is a simple one, but there are many others including exceptions. If you have understood words sequences or formations, then there shouldn’t have any significant problem in reading. But, for Listening it has a different dimension.

As for Listening, you can hear and understand what it is about if you have no problem about English pronunciation

How about grammar and vocabularies? Well, yes they are also important, indeed. But, even if you can’t write English sentences, nor can you read them with good spelling, you still technically listen and understand. Why is this? Because, although pronunciation and spelling is relatively associated with each other, someone can pronounce words but don’t quite know about their spellings, which is a possible typical case. Ears and eyes/hands are not analogous organs, which means that you can read English sentences with your spelling and grammar/vocabulary knowledge, whereas it doesn’t mean you also listen to English sentences and understand them properly. In terms of Reading, you can understand English sentences if you follow graphological steps. By contrast, you should have a phonological bridge to understand what it is about.

You can hear and understand English sentences if you have understood basic grammar and vocabularies

You don’t necessarily need a high level of grammar and vocabularies for Listening unless you are listening to a very specific technical conversation. Because of its reliance on basic letter units, you just need to have several exposures to a word in order to get the hang of what it is about. For Reading, however, you need to understand the whole-word units like grammatical structure, meanings of words, etc. I would say, therefore, eye approach differs considerably from ear one. That is, Reading and Writing are artificially taught, so if you haven’t devoted yourself a bit of time to reading and writing, you won’t be good at both automatically and naturally. Speaking and listening has a different spectrum. That’s why this is a myth that all native speakers could read and write English sentences if they were born and raised in an English-speaking country. But for Speaking and Listening, yes, I suppose so. I am not saying they could listen and speak perfectly. But nevertheless, some cannot read and write properly due to lack of proper English education.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

Have a good one!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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