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The receptive and productive lag in second language learning

One of the first things that you need to do when you learn a second language is to use it. A lot of people think that we learn second languages like we learn our first, by listening and then emulating. It doesn’t work like that, well it could, but it’s highly inefficient. Plus I think given the choice, babies probably would communicate using words.

Whenever you learn something new, some vocabulary or a phrase, maybe a grammar point, put it to use. Try and create something with it straight away.

There’s always going to be a lag between your receptive and productive second language ability. The more you learn, the bigger this lag gets because if your learning is efficient, you learn the most used language first, and this means the stuff you learn later on you have less of a chance of using, and thus less of a chance of using. To counteract this, use the language!

The most important thing about this receptive and productive lag is the part you can use, the productive part. This part you want to increase as much as possible so that your command of the language is greater. The only way to increase this productive part is by using the language. So you should be using it as soon as you can, including and most importantly at the beginning stages.

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi


Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website link). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

On my daily blog I post thoughts of a practicing Yamabushi that I hope people can use to better themselves and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

Sign up to the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter, follow me on social (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email via the link below to stay in touch.



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All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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