All languages have two different symbol systems

Language is one of the most complex of human capabilities, and every widely spoken language in the world today has two quite different and independent symbolic systems which are used for different purposes.

The process of learning how to speak a language is quite different from the process of learning how to read and write a language. That is because these processes involve two very different systems of representation for the same communicable meaning.

 

Aural symbols

In the spoken form of the language, an agreed range of abstract vocal sounds are combined to represent some element of meaning that can be heard and recognised by other speakers of that language.

 

Visual symbols

In the written form of the language, a range of abstract visual symbols physically represent the ephemeral sounds the words make when they are being spoken.

 

We confuse these in our minds

Most of us who have experienced some formal education are able to encode (speak and write) and decode (hear and read) our native language with a high degree of fluency, and with little conscious distinction between the visual and aural symbol systems we are using.

When we read, we see the visual symbols on the page, but we can also ‘hear’ the aural symbols of those words in our mind. When we hear words, we can also ‘see’ the written symbols in our mind.  We are so familiar with both systems that they seem interlinked and inseparable.

 

The two symbolic systems are independent.  

They are not linked, except in our minds.  It is possible to be able to speak a language fluently without ever having seen the visual symbols for the sounds you are making. Millions of people in the the world are in this category, growing up without education, completely illiterate, but fluent speakers of their own language.   Not being able to read and write is no impediment to your ability to speak a language.

Conversely, it’s possible to be highly literate in terms of the written form of a language even if you are profoundly deaf and unable to ever hear the sound of it being spoken.  Not knowing what the language sounds like is no impediment to being able to read it or write it.  Neither symbolic form is dependent on the other.

 

YES is designed to facilitate English speech.

Most language programs are based primarily on the visual symbolic form of the language, yet for most learners these programs are disappointing because what they really want is to be able to speak their new language.  YES is unique, in that it concentrates exclusively on helping learners build and practise their English speaking skills, as fast as possible.

 

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