Why Is It More Difficult To Write Than To Speak In English?

For numerous English learners, it is much harder to learn how to write fluently in English than to learn how to speak fluently. Even for those learners at advanced levels, written communications tend to come quite more slowly in English in comparison to spoken communications.

Indeed, in Singapore, English language learning programs often dedicate more time to teaching written English because a lot of learners find it more difficult to master than spoken English. There are actually various reasons for this. Read on to find out the major reasons why many people find it more challenging to write than to speak in English.

1. There is more formality in written communication

The English grammar comes with a lot of rules, which must be followed more closely in written English than in spoken English. For instance, if someone asks, “Will you please borrow me your phone?” in a conversation, you can understand from the context that the speaker really meant to say, “Will you please lend me your phone?”

In written communication, words are much more significant because they have no visual context. Particularly, if you are in a business setting, committing grammatical errors can result in miscommunication and cause problems. In a spoken conversation, you can smile and make a great impression. However, in writing, the only thing you have are words.

2. Mistakes are often overlooked in spoken communication

When you are having a conversation with someone, you tend to have the ability to get their point even when you understand only a few words of what they are saying because you are aware of the context in which they are communicating. In other words, you or the person you are conversing with can make all the mistakes you want without making a big difference. However, the same is not true when it comes to writing where there is not much room for error. Otherwise, misunderstanding will surely follow. 

3. Expectations are higher for formal written English

People tend to expect more of what they read. They expect it to be true, informative, or entertaining. When there is an expectation, there is pressure to do an excellent job. This is the reason why many book authors usually undergo the revision process numerous times before finally publishing their books. With speaking, there is generally not so much pressure. Unless you are giving a presentation or closing a business deal, there is not much pressure for you to deliver flawlessly. 

4. Less reflection goes into spoken English

Spoken English is far more spontaneous compared to written English. It is generally more flexible, and mistakes do not necessarily affect your ability to communicate effectively. On the other hand, in writing, it is crucial to think about how you should write to your target audience. There is a need for you to understand who will be reading your writing and how you can clearly communicate with them. Most often than not, it takes time to have these things figured out. 


There are several different reasons why it is much harder to master written English than spoken English. Indeed, compared to speaking, writing requires more adherence to the rules of grammar, is less forgiving of mistakes, and comes with more expectations and pressure. If you are planning to take an English proficiency exam like IELTS, you should definitely hone your writing skills because it is through your written English that your mastery of the language will be largely assessed!

If you are looking for the best IELTS course in Singapore that will help you improve both your English writing and speaking skills, English Explorer is the language school you can count on! We provide the most effective and extensive IELTS training in Singapore that will surely help you pass the IELTS exam and become a pro in speaking and writing in English in no time! Check out our article on excellent things you can do with an IELTS certificate after you pass the test!

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