It’s not easy to say what the most important aspect of language learning is: some would claim listening, some would say reading and writing, and still others would vouch for speaking. The best option for language learning is to not focus on a single aspect, but rather get a well-rounded education that includes all four facets of the language.
Moving Abroad: Let’s say, that for whatever reason, you are moving to a foreign country and you need a crash course in the target language. My suggestion here is to definitely focus on listening, speaking, and reading. Why? Listening and speaking will be vital when you’re asking for directions, ordering food, or looking for a bathroom, while reading will help you to be able to read signs and directions when you’re trying to get around the city.
Business: This is a common one, as a lot of people find themselves needing to learn how to communicate in a specific language for business reasons. First, take a good look at which way you tend to use the target language the most. If you make a lot of phone calls in that language, then definitely focus on speaking and listening, but if you can get by simply communicating via e-mail, then reading and writing is a definite must.
Teaching: Whenever you are teaching a language, it’s always good to know a bit of your student’s native language in order to help you get by. In this case, listening is the big must-know. For young students in particular it can be difficult to find ways to express themselves in the language you are teaching them, so they tend to resort to their native language when they really need to say something. Having basic listening skills will help you a great deal when you encounter these situations as a teacher.
Whenever you are teaching a language, it’s always good to know a bit of your student’s native language in order to help you get by.
Hobby: Learning a language as a hobby is a fun activity and can be both enjoyable and challenging. I find that most people who are learning a language in this way like to take a more relaxed approach and focus on basic communication skills: which means that for the language hobbyists speaking and listening are the most important parts.
No matter what – whether learning for fun or for work – a new language should serve as a useful tool for helping you to achieve your own goals and aspirations. So be sure to come up with a list of what you would like to accomplish in your studies, and enjoy the learning journey!
What do you feel is the most important skill when learning a new language? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!