I love learning languages and I have tried learning many languages.
No matter which language it is, learning it can be divided by speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Based on my experience, speaking and listening are two sides of the same coin. The sound you cannot distinguish when you are listening is the sound — consonant or vowel — you cannot pronounce properly.
When you want your language skills to improve from intermediate to advanced, dictating is a good approach. This is the training method practised in interpreter training institutions.
You listen to the audio sample spoken in your target language and write down what you have heard. Ideally, it is better to have a native speaker to check your dictation if you don’t have the script.
This practice demands that you have grammar knowledge and a wide range of vocabulary. At the same time, you can find the weakness in your pronunciation because what you cannot write down accurately is exactly the point at which you cannot pronounce properly.
In other words, when you can listen precisely and understand a language, it means that you can potentially speak that part with proper pronunciation and make the native listener understand.
Then, how about reading and writing? Are they also practically the same thing? The language you can read is the language you are potentially able to write?
I would say, yes. I believe so.
Of course, writing in a non-native language is not straightforward. It is not that you can write 100 after you have read 100. It’s just like the tip of the iceberg. You can see its beautiful shape floating above the sea because it is supported by a massive volume under the water.
Still, I think you can write in any languages after you have read a lot. If you can enjoy French lyrics, you are potentially capable to write poems in French.
In the first place, we all tend to think that we are writing from scratch as creators, but is it really the case? Is it truly possible to create a new piece from nothing? Because our writing must be written based on something that we have read. Your words, sentences and paragraphs must be what you have seen before somewhere, and you assemble them with your measure of construction.
I am writing this story here as if I am the creator of this, but if you factorise it carefully, it will be a collection of the pieces which you have read before.
It is writing; you collect your favourite words and phrases which you have ever read (or heard) and get them together to may it look nice. It’s basically based on what you have read. Reading and writing are one pair, as listening and speaking are a couple.
Having said that, being capable to write is not the same as being a good writer. They are two different things.
My primary language is Japanese and I know many native Japanese speakers who love reading. However, it is not that they are all good at writing though they can write in Japanese very well. This fact encourages me to write in my second language — English. There are many native English speakers, but not all of them are good writers.
Writing is complicated work. When it comes to writing creatively, even more so. If you like writing in your first language, you can try to write in a non-native language too.
Being able to write and being good at writing is different. Still, if you can enjoy reading in your non-primary language, you may be able to write in that language. So, why don’t you try it?