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How Can Reading Influence Language Acquisition?

How Can Reading Influence Language Acquisition? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Spanish is my mother tongue; however, I also managed to learn English and French at a young age. Both of these languages stuck with me even years after I had left the countries where I learned them.

Table of Contents

Language Exposure Period

Modern Technologies

Influence of Books

Speaking

Vocabulary

Writing

Listening

Speaking

Grammar

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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jorge P. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Language Exposure Period

Despite staying in those countries for a short time (less than a year), it surprised me how, when comparing myself with people who had had similar experiences, my language skills were much better than theirs. Looking back on those days, I believe that it’s because I was not learning the language for itself, but rather as a means to an end. I was using those languages with a purpose. And this purpose was reading.

Modern Technologies

When commercial use of the internet exploded, I began using English to communicate daily. I played games, talked with people from all over the world, searched for information online, etc. Even though communication was mostly written, I was spending hours every day using English as a tool, reading and communicating with people.

Also Read: Can I learn a foreign language while teaching English abroad?

Influence of Books

The real breakthrough, however, came during my teenage years, when I started reading books every day. Since most internet communication is done in English, I was able to find books to read on my computer, whether they were about philosophy, economics, politics, or even poems and self-help books.

Speaking

Of course, my speaking skills were not as developed as my writing skills, but as soon as movies became more available online, and YouTube began to become popular, I managed to fill the gap in my listening skills.

Today, I would advise any avid English learner to ditch the courses and go towards reading books on subjects that interest them. This might seem paradoxical for a future English teacher, but as with many other things in life, the teacher can only help you so much, if you’re not willing to help yourself.

I believe that reading covers the basics needed to learn a language successfully in the following ways:

teacher reading to students

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Vocabulary

Vocabulary is easily internalized when we read book after book, even if we’re not searching for every word in the dictionary. Learning by context or association is a powerful way to learn while having fun.

Writing

When writing, sometimes I find myself feeling the urge to use a specific word in a context, without actually knowing what the word means. A search in the dictionary quickly reveals that the word I had thought of was not only acceptable but also conveyed the very specific meaning that I wanted the phrase to have.

Listening

Without knowing the words, it is impossible to hear them in a normal conversation. They are only sounds being articulated by someone. By seeing the words written down however, we can separate the different sounds into compounds that carry meaning. Once the most basic words are part of our vocabulary, it’s only a matter of asking the speaker what this or that word could mean, and we can completely understand what is being said.

Also Read: How much can I earn teaching English in Vietnam?

Speaking

Although it may seem that reading and speaking skills are not directly correlated, I used to read out loud to improve my pronunciation. I enjoyed finding the specific sounds to make my voice sound with a British accent, often exaggerating it to train myself, and I do believe it helped me erase a good part of my native accent.

Grammar

I do not believe that we learn grammar by understanding it, but rather by repetition. Sure, we can have doubts about a grammatical structure that we don’t encounter often, but thanks to reading, any common grammatical structure will have been encountered hundreds, if not thousands of times before, so that they become second nature.

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