Speaking and writing tasks and their effects on second language performance

Authored by: Folkert Kuiken , Ineke Vedder

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415479936
eBook ISBN: 9780203808184
Adobe ISBN: 9781136666896


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It is hard to answer the question when the human race started speaking: was it 50,000, 150,000 or 250,000 years ago? And did humanoids start speaking immediately after they were physically able to do so? It is equally hard to tell when we began to write. Was it around 3000 bc judging by the Mesopotamian tablets which date from around that time? Or was it as early as 5000 or 8000 bc if we also include “forerunners” of writing that have been found on small clay objects at sites from Palestine to eastern Iran (Daniels and Bright, 1996)? How difficult these questions may be to answer, what is not contested is that speaking is primary and writing is secondary. This is still the case in modern society: children start to speak first and only later do they learn to write. But writing has become very important nowadays. A human being who cannot write will not be able to participate fully in daily life. And there are situations and contexts in which more importance is attached to the written than to the spoken word.

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