Input vs. Output – Language Learning

input vs output

input vs output

One of the biggest debates to do with language learning is the old input vs. output.

This might be a bit confusing for you because surely when learning a language you need both right? Well that would be correct, but many language learning techniques seem to focus on one more than the other.

Team input tend to put more focus on immersing yourself with the language as much as possible through listening, reading and exposure.

And team output put their main focus on speaking and creating sentences yourself as soon as possible.

Both have their merits and what you do will probably end up a mix of them both but let’s take a look at these two ideas.

Camp Output

Learners like Scott Young and Benny Lewis put their focus on output. For them this is the most important part of language learning.

Of course, you need some input to be able to output, but they think it’s vital that you start speaking as soon as possible, preferably from day one.

The sooner you start speaking and overcome your fears, the quicker your language learning journey will become.


  • You will start learning the language quicker
  • Fast results that you can see


  • This can be incredible daunting
  • You’ll find more people impatient with you when you know less of the language
  • People are more likely to swap to English

Check out Scott Young’s journey

Check out Benny Lewis

Camp Input

Camp input puts more focus on taking the language in.

The idea is for you to immerse yourself in the language and to get as much exposure as possible in the early days before you start speaking.

This can be done in a number of ways; through TV, movies, music, changing the language on your phone, living in a foreign country and more.

The idea is to take in as much as possible and then when it comes to the time to speak you will already have the vocabulary in place to start communicating.


  • When you start speaking you have more vocabulary
  • You get used to hearing the phonemes long before you start using them


  • It takes longer to start speaking
  • It may be more difficult to get over the fear of speaking

Check out Steve Kaufman, a famous polyglot who is a lover of input

So Which Camp Is Best?

Which camp is best will probably depend on your personality.

If you’re more outgoing and extroverted then you’re probably going to find camp output a lot more appealing.

However, if you’re more cautious or studios you could find yourself thriving in camp input.

There’s no one size fits all and different people have benefitted enormously from different methods and have still been able to learn the language regardless of which method they chose.

The key is finding the balance that works for you.

Don’t be discouraged if you try one method and you don’t have success. Adapt your learning tools until you find a way that helps you learn more effectively and happily.

And remember that language learning should be fun.

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