Can Writing By Hand Help You Learn A Language Faster?
But I'm quite convinced that writing them out by hand helps me learn them.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann, and today I want to talk about writing,
uh, but I want to talk about the importance of writing by hand.
Uh, so if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for
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I do appreciate it.
So I did a video recently about writing and I pointed out, Uh, many people
want to improve their ability to write in a language, and I gave some
suggestions, uh, on how we can improve our ability to write and to write well.
I also talked about the importance of writing as a strategy to
improve in a language, to improve our comprehension, to improve our
ability to, to express ourselves even orally, our ability to speak.
Writing is, is a strategy, is a, is an activity that helps us learn.
In that video, I said that it's very important in any language learning
activity that that activity be meaningful to say, me, the learner to us as learners.
And I always find it difficult to uh, in the languages that I've been
learning recently at any rate, because I don't like to maintain a diary.
I don't maintain a diary in my own language, so it would be a
bit unnatural for me to maintain a diary in the language I'm learning.
Although people maybe who don't maintain a language in their own, uh, a diary
in their own language may be, you know, uh, motivated to start a diary
in the language that they're learning.
I, I admitted, or I, I stressed the fact that writing is good for,
you know, language skills, it's a good thing to do, but you have to
do it in a way that makes sense.
So if I have, uh, say email communication with someone, then I might be inclined
to write uh, to be honest, I might still rely on Google Translate because
it's, it's available as a tool.
Uh, all I want to do is communicate.
I might just write something up in English, get the translation, and read
it over, uh, and then send it along.
So again, it's difficult to get yourself in a situation where you do something
that you feel you should be doing in the language and that is natural to you.
I have found that I very rarely write in the languages that I'm learning today.
However, that wasn't always the case.
Two of the, let's say that the languages that I speak the best are, besides
English, French, and Japanese and Chinese, so I have very rarely written in Japanese.
But I have written a lot in French and Chinese, and in both cases
I wrote by hand because in those days there were no other options.
I wrote my Chinese by hand and I wrote...
I was a student in France for three years.
I had to write, you know, exams in French.
I wrote by hand in Chinese.
Uh, after one year of study, we had to write the, I had to write
the British Foreign Service Exam.
I had to compose a diplomatic note in Chinese.
I had to translate uh, newspaper editorials from English into Chinese.
I had to be able to write, and so I did a lot of writing and I'm quite
convinced that writing by hand helped me learn Chinese characters.
If I were learning Chinese characters today, would I write them all by hand,
uh, out by hand, as I did then or would I rely on some computer system?
I don't know because I'm not in the position of having to learn Chinese
characters today, 50 years later.
But I'm quite convinced that writing them out by hand helps me learn them.
Yet I know that I rarely, if I, I do not write by hand in any
language other than English today.
I write, I can write Chinese, Japanese, Russian, whatever.
I will either type or I will use dictation on my iPhone.
I don't write by hand.
Uh, in Russian I can hardly read the cursive version of the Cyrillic alphabet.
Uh, basically everything I do is on the computer.
That's the world that I live in.
So if I were even today, I, I, I have never tried to write Persian or Arabic.
So, uh, as I said, I don't write very much in the languages that
I have learned or I type on the computer, but I don't write by hand.
But writing is a great way to improve your skills in the language, your
comprehension, but particularly your ability to output to speak 'cause
you look words up, so it's kind of like an assist to get to speaking.
Well, I'm gonna show you an even further, more helpful
assist to getting you to output.
It's what we call the integrated review, which is a new activity.
I have it on my iPad and iPhone.
It'll be available on all platforms in the new year.
So in Turkish, for example, if I go to my mini stories and I just pick a
mini story here, doesn't really matter.
Uh, whatever here.
So obviously I've gone through this.
A number of words in yellow.
I may have forgotten some of them.
I go to my sentence view...
the story about son and, uh, dog Max.
Uh, let's go to a longer next sentence.
So, um, you know, let's say I don't really remember ... is my son, so
I often move, you know, uh, words back to, could be to not known.
And then if they don't show up, I have to go hide and show.
Now I can do this review ... was, uh, is when he was a, a cub,
like a small dog, A puppy.
Uh, my son ... so now I have to put the story together.
So A goes to the front.
This is a story uh, a story of my, uh, son and his dog, Max
... okay, so good.
I can review these again if I want.
I close it.
I go to the next sentence.
So ... was before, so we again study the sentence earlier before is
... and now I have to put the sentence together again.
Again, I have a capital O obviously starts the sentence
Now this might seem simple.
Uh, mini stories are easier.
If I go to, let's say, for the fun of it, let's go to a language
that I haven't been doing.
I did kind of poke around in say, Dutch.
And, uh, so here's one and, uh, view sentence.
Now this is more difficult here.
Uh, let's see.
Here is a shorter sentence.
So, uh, ... is after ...let's listen to it.
... okay, now study it.
Only, uh, ...really for the first time ... correct.
And, um, let's see,
... ... is after as though, as if, wasn't in the sentence, but they throw a.
You know, ringers in there.
So in, uh,
... is after
... uh, Belgium.
... uh, okay, so the ... from Belgium in 1830.
I forgot that guy.
Put him in there.
Uh, ... there we go.
So then I can look at the words again.
Anyway, that gives you an idea of how useful this, uh, uh, integrated review
can be in getting you to start to kind of, you know, assist the output with the
training wheels on in languages, even ones that you're not that familiar with.
I hope that was useful, but if I really wanted to improve in those languages,
probably I should write by hand.
And there is research that shows that not only for learning languages, but for
learning anything if we write by hand and we're cultivating those motor skills in
our brain to enable us to write and to to write about a subject or to write in a
language that we are learning, doing it by hand is more effective than typing, more
effective than just listening and reading.
So I, I'm quite convinced that there is significant benefit in writing by
hand in order to improve our skills.
But it's also a matter of say, choice.
If I spend a lot of time writing by hand, then that's time that I'm
not spending listening and reading.
So my, the, my vocabulary growth is more limited.
Uh, it's a, it's kind of the, the way I feel when I'm say on LingQ and I'm doing
sort of vocabulary in sentence mode.
We have these matching pairs now in the, uh, certainly the iOS app,
followed by the sort of assembling of words in a sentence, which I love
doing and I find very addictive.
But all the time I'm spending doing that and nailing those things down.
That's time that I'm not acquiring more words and getting my brain used to hearing
the language and reading the language.
So there's, it's always a matter of, of what you wanna do.
Obviously when I was learning Chinese, it was a full-time job.
I had the whole day to devote to learning Chinese.
I could spend an hour or two writing, I could spend an hour
or two listening or reading.
So there was, I, I didn't have to decide as I do today, how am I gonna spend
the hour, hour and a half a day that I have available for language learning?
However, if you have the time, I'm quite convinced that writing by
hand is a very good discipline, uh, to improve your language skills.
But overall, I think writing it's something that's perhaps neglected today
and, and maybe is really only necessary if we are in a, a situation where we need
to be able to write in a foreign language for academic or professional reasons.
And then, uh, you can refer to the videos that I did on writing to see what my
recommendations are with regard to, you know, how to improve your writing, but
insofar as writing by hand is concerned...
oh, and that reminds me when I did my video about writing and I said
that, you know, keeping a diary is not something that I would do because
it's not something I'm used to doing.
Somebody commented that somehow, uh, I was misleading people, uh, and that I saw,
you know, the writing practice, uh, or the writing of a maintaining of a diary.
It wasn't clear what the reference was to, but that I saw this as competition
to LingQ and that therefore I was discouraging people from doing it.
That's not the case.
No learning activity, let's say a learning activity that is totally unrelated
to LingQ is a competition to LingQ.
Different learning activities are all complimentary.
You don't have to only have one learning activity, one learning app,
one approach to language learning.
Whatever you do, uh, is beneficial.
Uh, remember, language learning is a matter of your attitude and the
time you spend with the language.
Whatever gets you involved with the language is good.
That's not competition.
That's basically synergy from my point of view.
So again, I refer you to the two videos I did on writing or a few years ago, and
I hope that this is of interest to you.
Thanks for listening.
Bye for now.