Although we always say that we can learn to speak well if we keep hearing the languages over and over again, there is another important way to learn to speak, that is by learning to read. By reading, I do not mean reading text. Reading foreign text is not easy; it is not the same as learning to speak. You have to decode the information of the sounds of speech in relation to the word or text that you see.
By reading, I mean seeing the graphic representation of speech. Reading comes in two forms: silent and aloud.
Pick up a newspaper or brochure you receive in your mail. Your eyes will first register prints on the envelope; then you start to make your way to open only the ones you need to read. You are quiet every step of the way. Then you found a bill that needs to be paid in a month’s time. You start talking about it in your head and then raise a muscle in your voice to say something about it. There is a time lapse between all these…from silent reading to speaking out loud.
Imagine being a tourist. You will find that you will be repeating the same steps in your movement from silent reading of the brochure to asking directions with the locals on how to get to a destination.
A child’s way of learning to speak and read is the same as an adult except he may spend at least 2 years of his life not speaking a word. Some children won’t utter a word till they are three.
Many people do not use this formula enough so much so that they want to be ahead by speaking too early.
It becomes a habit for some. They interrupt other people’s conversations, jump in before the other person finishes his sentence. Do you find yourself doing that? Then it is probably because you have not learnt to exercise silent reading, of the words that you need to hear from the speaker.
Just think of how you were as a child. You had remained quiet and speechless until you were about 1.5 or 2 years of age. You were silently working out the images you saw from the environment, absorbing and growing the information inside you. You did not interrupt but you continued to read silently. When you were ready to speak, all the words started to pour out like an avalanche. You could not stop, and your parents also had a hard time asking you to keep still.
If you want to speak fluent in a foreign language, you need to realise one thing. You cannot speak to impress or hope to win an award for being fluent in a foreign language. You will feel rewarded when you get people saying things like, “You speak very well”, or “You understand this language?” People will naturally be drawn towards you for your efforts. Take liberty on your speech formation with words before jumping into making sentences.