It is well-known that it is difficult to compete with native speakers when learning a language as an adult. But is there a similar phenomenon with writing systems? Can non-natives (e.g. of Arabic or Chinese) read and write as fast as natives for instance?

  • 6
    Personally I find this one of the easiest parts of language learning... despite the impressive effect it has on people who haven't started learning a script and perceive it as an impenetrable wall :) Less anecdotally, compared to speech, reading is not acquired automatically by whatever internal advantages children have, but has to be explicitly and rigorously taught. If it becomes fluid and natural it's through lots of intentional practice. Some people never get it very fluid. This all suggests that it's not one of the native speaker advantages. May 8, 2019 at 11:25
  • 3
    From experience, agree with Luke on all points - easy, superficially daunting, less innate... Most literate adults learning a script are learning a new script along with learning a new language so it's not a proper experiment. May 8, 2019 at 17:40
  • As an aside, learning to write in a script is a separate skill from learning to read in it. I used to write in my own constructed script, and I wrote as fast in it as I would write in Latin letters, or faster... but since I rarely read back what I wrote, and I was the only one using the script, I always stayed very slow at reading it.
    – LjL
    May 12, 2019 at 1:31


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