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Isn’t It Weird That I Can Write In English Better Than Speak?

Isn't It Weird That I Can Write In English Better Than Speak

Short answer “No, it’s not weird at all! It’s actually completely normal for any English speaker – be it native or foreign – to be able to write in English better than speak!”

However, having said this, the reverse isn’t always true and I’m not claiming that all English speakers are better writers than speakers. It’s just that it’s NOT WEIRD if you happen to be a better writer than a speaker.

Now, would you like to get a bit more elaborate answer to this question? Well, it’s going to take me more than just a paragraph or two to say all I have to say in this regard, so I’d better settle down in front of my laptop with a mug of coffee because writing this article is going to take me a little while.

There are many aspects to the curious problem of differences between writing and speaking in English and who else would be more qualified to answer the above question than me? After all, I live in an English speaking country and I spend the biggest part of my day at work communicating with native English speakers; most of my evenings are spent writing articles for my blog and answering e-mails.

Years spent on analyzing English fluency related issues have left me with a very good understanding of how one’s writing skills influence one’s ability to speak and vice versa, so let my long answer begin!

So, is it weird that you can write in English better than speak?

NO, and the reason number one is…

1. If You Learnt English the Traditional Way,
It’s Hardly Surprising Your Written English is
Better than Your Spoken English!

In a nutshell, if you’ve learnt the English language by filling in blanks in workbooks and constructing sentences based on English Grammar rules, you’ve become very good at it. So, why would you be surprised to find out in a few years down the line that you’re much better at writing in English than speaking?

Do you think that the ability to create a piece of writing must somehow result in ability to produce verbal content of the same quality?

I’m sorry to disappoint you my friend, but it simply isn’t true!

Just think about it from this perspectivewhen you write, is your mouth engaged in any way in the text creation process? Is your ability to deliver fluent English speech being developed while you write? I don’t think so, because were the opposite true, you wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place, isn’t that right?

2. If You Spend Most of Your Time Writing,
It’s Rather Common Sense You’re Better at It!

I spend plenty of my time writing articles for this blog, and after a good few years doing this on a regular basis I want to believe I’m good at it! It’s a result of years’ hard work, and if you’re anything like me, you must have experienced a considerable improvement in terms of your ability to deliver very well written English content.

At the same time, if you don’t have much interpersonal contact with other English speakers, your spoken English improvement is lagging behind. The funny thing is, YOUR EGO WANTS to see the same improvement in terms of verbal fluency, but the obvious answer that it’s all down to the lack of practice just keeps eluding you.

It actually boils down to a single premise – YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO ❗ If you write a lot – you’re a good writer. If you speak a lot – you’re a good speaker.

Yet interestingly enough, even if you spend an equal amount of your time on writing and speaking, the chances are that you can express your thoughts slightly better in writing. Well, it’s actually quite obvious as well because…

3. You Have an Awful Lot More Time
For Planning When Writing!

When you write, you can stop for a second, think on a few different ways of putting the particular thought into words, and then write it down on a piece of paper or type it onto a computer. There’s nothing preventing you from creating perfect sentences in writing simply because you can always take your time and choose the best fitting words!

Those who face real people in real life don’t have such a luxury – when you speak you have to produce your speech pretty much instantly. Of course, sometimes you will hesitate and think of the best fitting word, phrase, or English Grammar Tense.

By and large, however, an English speaker – be it foreign or native – doesn’t have as much time for planning the speech when speaking as when constructing sentences when writing.

So if you’re bugging yourself about not being eloquent enough when speaking, you can rest assured that millions of native English speakers are probably feeling the same way. After all, when you create a piece of writing, you can always proofread it, polish any imperfections and make it sound as perfect as possible.

And, if you know how to make use of Google and online dictionaries to make sure you use the same means of expression as native English speakers do, your writing really might not differ from that of a native English speaker!

So is it surprising that if you have access to so many extra recourses when writing, that your writing is actually better than your spoken English?

4. When Writing, You’re not Emotionally Affected!

When you interact with other human beings, there’s always emotions involved.

Your new work colleague might make you too conscious of your own English speech, the girl or the handsome guy sitting at the workstation next to you might make you embarrassed, and your boss is probably pissing you off every time he walks by and makes some non-sense comment!

Add on some foreign English speaking perfectionists who’ll scowl at the slightest mistake you make, and some who’ll be always rushing you speech making you completely tongue-tied, and the overall picture all of a sudden gets very grim indeed!

Personally I tackle such emotional pressure with a decent dose of ignorance, but at the same time I’m fully aware of how difficult it sometimes is not to become emotionally affected and maintain your English fluency.

When you write, on the other hand, you are emotion-free for the most part (unless someone is peeking over your shoulder as you write and making you irritated!) And even if you’re frustrated and moody while writing, it will affect your ability to create that piece of writing to a lesser extent than if you were speaking.

So, did I convince you of the fact that there’s nothing weird about being able to write better in English than speak?

I hope I did, and I also hope you enjoyed reading this article! 😉

Robby

P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

 

English Harmony System

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I’m glad you find it helpful! 😉

  • Broadway2

    Too fast!!!! This info helps!!!#

  • Well, I definitely wouldn’t go as far as to remove a tooth because the issue is purely based on your own insecurities as an English speaker. One of the BIGGEST reasons why we, foreigners, have such situations is because we’re trying to speak too FAST – please read this article that explains it: http://englishharmony.com/slow-down/

  • Broadway2

    First of all, reading every word of this article gave me some sense of relief – that I am not alone!!!! I am a university lecturer in my country before proceeding to the United Kingdom for a PhD. Back in my country, most people refer to me as a talkative, and my student appreciate my teachings. However, getting to England, there was this difficulty to understand the accent of the locals and vice versa. I have improved on this so far, however, sometimes, I have this tongue tie situation where I would have what I want to say in my head, but to utter it out becomes a big challenge. Right now, I am considering removing one of my teeth, because I feel it is the one responsible for my inappropriate pronunciation of some words. Can you help me in any way?

  • Hi Keertiga,

    And thanks for posting your comment here!

    I know EXACTLY how you’re feeling about this issue – I’ve been in the same boat for years and even now when I don’t really suffer from any fluency issues anymore I encounter such people to this day.

    So, first of all I’d like you to read this article http://englishharmony.com/speech-anxiety/ where I’m talking about why those people behave that way and why they look down on you. Also, there’s advice on what you should change in your attitude to deal with such folks.

    Next, I’d like you to read the following articles/watch the video where I’ve touched upon very similar issues: http://englishharmony.com/intimidation/
    http://englishharmony.com/focus-on-achievements/

    Basically the key is to develop IGNORANCE towards such people and focus on what you CAN say.

    I know it’s easier said than done, but believe me – such a state of mind can be achieved!

    So please read those article and watch the video, and let me know if you have any further questions.

    Cheers,

    Robby

  • Keertiga Chandran

    Hey Robby.How’s the weather??I’m deeply interested in your webpage.I’m 15 and I’m a Malaysian Indian.I am known as a good English speaker at school but yet,I could get easily tongue- tied whenever I speak to people who don’t only see English as a language but also as knowledge.You know like certain people who claim that a person who doesn’t speak fluent English is a someone who’s uneducated.And..you know what..it is really hard to confront people like that as they have this kind of perception.It’s my reputation matter obviously.When I told my mom about this,she told me to just talk to them as if they’re not good speakers..So Robby, what should I do to overcome this problem of mine..

  • Robby thank you for helping me understand what I’m going through. Last month I presented my proposal for my thesis. I did my 100% in producing a good output. However my college professors doubted my paper! They accused me for plagiarism or for having someone else SMART done it for me. How awful. I am not a good speaker, I hate speaking in class. I’m shocked how some teachers are not aware that writing and speaking are two worlds apart. They are not impressed with me as a student, so they also assumed I could never produce a good output and accuse me with all their maliciousness. Ugh!

  • Hi Larisa,

    Thanks for your comment!

    Here’s a website I’ve heard being mentioned quite a lot: http://lang-8.com/

    Native speakers will check a piece of text you’ve written and correct mistakes; I’m not sure how exactly it works ’cause I haven’t used it myself ;-))

    But as I said, it’s a popular one so I’d say it’s worth giving a try!

    Regards,

    Robby

  • Larisa Fiodorovna

    Robby, I really like your site, it helped me a lot. Now I’m preparing my CAE and I’m looking for some help for the writing and the speaking parts of the test. I did find many useful things on the Internet, but is there a way to check my writing online?  
    Thank you!

  • Thanks, it’s really flattering! 😉 I really appreciate your nice words and the fact that you like reading my articles.

    Keep checking my blog for updates on Mondays and Thursdays – that’s when I publish new posts and videos!

  • Anonymous

    Robby you truly one great person..i like your style of teaching:) its different and very very effective..thanks for the good work..I cant say keep it up because its already near perfect way of teaching so instead i say just Keep going:)

  • Common Anuj, I know what satire is, I’m just not sure how you meant it in the context of your comment! 😉

    When you wrote “use more satires to criticise wrong English teaching methods”, initially that’s what I thought – you’re asking if I can write more articles highlighting the disadvantages of traditional learning methods using sarcasm and satire.

    Then it crossed my mind that you might have meant if I can use more phrases and idiomatic expressions in my articles that can be used in all sorts of satiric comparisons, and that’s why I asked you to specify what exactly you meant by this.

    Now it’s obvious you meant the former one and answer to this is – I’ve done it enough in the past, just check my Christmas video http://englishharmony.com/esl-industry/ and you’ll see that’s exactly what you’re talking about!

    Now I want to move on and rather write about methods and techniques that DO WORK instead of focusing on something that doesn’t like a broken record 😉

  • anuj

    satire- a way of criticizing a person, an idea or an institution
    in which you use humou to show their faults or weaknesses; a piece of
    writing that uses this type of criticism

  • Hi Anuj,

    Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you like my articles and find them useful!

    I’m not really sure what you mean by satires; do you mean phrases you can use when making jokes and jests?

  • anuj

    the way in which you write your articles is 100 times better than any other article written in the newspaper by so called perfectionist writer. i like the way you express your ideas and thoughts on paper. but only one thing is missing in your articles, you dont use much satires (especially in daily use). please use more satires in your articles to criticize wrong methods and techniques of english.

  • YASH

    Dear rami It sounds like you started speaking english and attained perfection right when you were not present in this world ..now get this into your thick skull that you should not make any sarcastic remarks if you cannot appreciate robby sharing his knowledge regarding english fluency techniques and helping non native english speakers like me achieve fluency..like many others i  truly appreciate robby for sharing his wealth of knowledge with us,only     
    a selfless man can do :) 

  • Unfortunately I’m not planning to develop the System for Macs in the near future.

  • Rogério Suguitani

    when you going to sell (i don’t speak english very well..) your system for apple macbook pro?

  • Hi LCM,

    Thanks for your comment and here are a few thoughts that crossed my mind while reading it:

    * it’s hard to enjoy a conversation if you’re not interested in the topic you’re discussing, so it could be that you wouldn’t enjoy those particular conversations in your native language either;

    * also – do you get to speak in English with someone on a regular basis? I’d find it hard to have meaningful conversations with random people as well; truth to be told I can only “open up” for real with people I’ve known for some time!

    And here are a couple of articles I want you to read which might answer your question as well:

    http://englishharmony.com/don%E2%80%99t-be-conscious-of-english-conversations/ 
    http://englishharmony.com/get-involved-when-speaking-english/ 

    Hope this helps,

    Regards,

    Robby

  • Rami

    it can be understood that their english isn’t  in fact better than yours they just aim for perfection,thats all right?if not, then how the hell did they surpass you?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Robby! I’m from Hong Kong! I’ve been following your blog posts for a while. I appreciate your work. I like the fact that you make use of your experiences to help others to improve.

    I am a Uni student. I want to become an English teacher in the future. Hehe, I want to be like you:) You are the best teacher i ever knew. It’s true.
     
    Truth be told, like the you in the past, I focus too much on writing but not speaking. I agree that speaking is actually the most important area of any language. And I want to change.

    Robby, I have a problem when I talk to people in English. When I talk, I can’t enjoy the talk. Whereas when I speak in my own language, I can. When I speak English, well it’s okay if it is just a few line-exchanging, but when it comes to a conversation, a long one, I’m like a motionless machine just saying the English words out. Few or even none interaction. I think the reason is when communication, my focus is on my English but not on the enjoyment of making friends and interacting. I want to change but this problem is always bothering me. Did you have the same problem before? If yes, what did you tell yourself when you have the problem?

    Thank you for reading Robby:))) Keep in touch!

    Regards,

    lcm

     

  • OK, here you go.

    What I mean by perfectionists in the context of this and many more articles here on my blog is the following.

    There are certain types of foreign English speakers who always aim to speak and write perfectly.

    They’ll over-analyse their speech or their piece of writing and they’d be constantly thinking about different grammar rules that might apply in that particular case.

    They’ll always aim to use the most sophisticated vocabulary, and they’ll always spot mistakes made by others.

    You see, I’m nothing like those perfectionists because when I speak, I’m not afraid to say something wrong and it has quite the opposite effect on my speech – over time I’ve become more and more fluent because I don’t allow my mistakes restrain me. And if you think I don’t make them – well, I do, just like any other normal human being.

    I don’t really understand where you’re coming from by claiming that I’m definitely one of such perfectionists, because if you’ll analyse my writing style in detail you’ll realize I write as I speak – in a friendly and casual manner as opposed to the way true academics would express their opinion. 

    Hope this sheds some light on the issue,

    Regards,

    Robby

  • Rami

    man, you’re a real perfectionist,i really mean it.unless the perfectionsts you’re talking about are 85 years old then yes. what do you mean by:”so i’ll refrain from any further comment?you sayin’ that you no longer wish to recieve comments from me?:(

  • Rami, you ain’t seen a real perfectionist yet!u00a0nnI’m not sure whether your comment is just a joke or you meant it, so I’ll refrain from any further comments.

  • Rami

    well,i’m sure that you’re the chairman ofu00a0the foreign english speaking perfectionists you’ve just mentioned :),no doubt about that.(u00a0i mean what foreigner could be good as you?)

  • Hi Joseph,nnYes, I got your e-mail and I just responded to it, thanks!

  • Joseph Ghassan

    Hi Robby, I sent you a request from your contact page. Did you get it.