Tongue and Pen
“Do you speak English?” This is far more commonly asked by Englishmen and Americans of the Chinese with whom they come into contact1 than “Do you write English?” They would perhaps laugh at the idea of2 having studied English for years without being able to speak it.
In fact, language is essentially a spoken thing. To study English without trying to speak it is not advisable. And it is absurd to read a conversation book in just the same manner as to read a grammar.
Besides, as ordinary written English is not quite different from ordinary spoken English, to learn to speak is a very good way to learn to write. One who speaks good English writes good English too. The pen cannot go wrong where the tongue goes right3. Many everyday phrases and everyday constructions come natural to4 one who uses them in speaking. For example, one who says “in fact” and “as a matter of fact” cannot possibly write the non-existent phrases “in a fact”, “as a fact”, and “as a matter of the fact”. And if the surest sign of those5 whose English is not perfect is their misuse of prepositions, good speaking is of great help in learning the idiomatic use of those little tricky words6. One who says “sick of”7, “interested in”, “prefer … to …”8 will write the same right prepositions in right places without any conscious effort.
不但如此，因为平常写的英语和平常讲的英语差异不大，学习讲是学习写的一个很好的方法。英语讲得好的人也能写得好。在用舌用得正确的场合用笔也就用得正确。许多日用的短语和结构对于在谈话中使用它们的人来说是自然而然的。举例来说，一个讲出“in fact”和“as a matter of fact”的人不可能写出并不存在的“in a fact”、“as a fact”和“as a matter of the fact”。如果英语不完美的人最明显的标志是介词误用，那么好的讲话对于如何学习将那些难用的小词用得合于习语是大有帮助的。一个讲出“sick of”、“interested in”、“prefer…to…”的人不用刻意努力就会在正确的地方写出同样正确的介词。
I think it would be a very good method of learning writing as well as9 learning speaking for a pupil to talk to his teacher in English about whatever subject the former10 is interested in and to have himself corrected11 whenever he makes a mistake. I am only sorry that I do not think it practicable in a classroom where there are many pupils.
- with whom they come into contact 他们所遇到的
- laugh at the idea of 听到……的话而笑
- The pen cannot go wrong when the tongue goes right. 在说得不错的场合，决不会写错。
- come natural to 对于……是自然的
- those 那些人
- those little tricky words 那些难用的小词（指所有介词）
- sick of 对于……厌倦的
- prefer … to … 比起……更喜欢……
- as well as 不但……；加在……上
- the former 指那“pupil”
- have himself corrected 使他自己受到（那教师的）指正