Receptive and Productive Skills in learning languages

¡Hola amigos y amigas!

¿Cómo están?

When we say that someone “speaks” a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level of all four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. However, learners often have strengths or weaknesses in certain skills and, in some cases, may reach high levels in, for example, reading and writing, while not being able to speak or listen at a comparable level.

You probably understand when someone speaks to you in Spanish but you can’t respond, despite knowing a few words. This is why you need to practice all language skills, to adopt a balanced approach, which ensures the development of the ability to use the language effectively in the real world. 

Speaking and writing

Productive or active forms of learning

These two skills are the two factors involved in the production process when using a language with the only difference being that the content produced is verbal or written. These skills are the main methods of language production. Depending on which of these active skills is most commonly used, the person will have the facility with the skill that is most frequently used. 

Thus, it is quite common to find someone who speaks fluently but is deficient in writing and, vice versa, a person who is very good at writing in a given language but is lacking in verbal communication. Therefore, it is important to understand that both skills must be used in a balanced way in order to use them efficiently.

Listening and reading

Receptive or passive forms of learning

On the other hand, receptive learning consists of listening and reading skills. The reason these skills are considered passive is that the skills involved do not produce anything that can be interpreted by anyone except the person using them.

These skills are also of equal importance and language learning will be considered ineffective if both are not used. Reading helps to improve grammar and vocabulary, while listening helps to better understand the language.

In addition, these skills contribute to the use of productive skills, which means that all skills form a unit when used equally, making language learning smoother and easier. I like to think of these skills as pieces of a puzzle, altogether from the language, but by themselves, they do not represent the whole picture.


Can I learn Spanish by myself?

You can, but you need a lot of commitment and dedication to follow a study plan that allows you to develop the four essential skills to learn a language. There are many free resources you can use to help you study Spanish online, however, none of these can replace a native tutor. 

In my classes, you will have the excellent opportunity to practice conversation, you will receive feedback on any mistakes and we will work to find your learning style. This will make a big difference in learning to speak Spanish fluently.

primer condicional, español, mike y greeicy

Spanish for beginners

Hundreds of beginners have found their way here to learn Spanish. In my classes, you will learn Spanish step by step with regular conversation practice and the opportunity to receive feedback and work on any areas you are having trouble with.

If you are a beginner try downloading a vocabulary app to familiarize yourself with the most commonly used words and consider listening to Spanish music on your commute to see what words you can pick out. Learn basic words to say hello and goodbye and start taking classes with me, I’m sure in a very little time you will start to feel more confident with your Spanish.


Are you looking for personalized tutoring?

Write me! I will be really glad to help you improve your Spanish skills.

¡Nos vemos pronto!


About The Author


Giane was born and raised in Chile, except for the time she moved to Spain and attended university there. She studied Education and Psychology at the University of Barcelona. She started teaching Spanish when she decided to travel around Europe, since then she has not stopped teaching languages.

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