Learning a language is mainly a skill that depends on the learner’s ability to learn by practice. The process of learning involves four aspects, i.e. writing, reading, speaking and listening. The proper order or procedure involved in learning a language is listening (L), speaking (S), reading (R) and writing (W).
Thus, LSRW is the process of language acquisition. If someone knows a language, it means that the person has the ability to understand and speak the language in a clear and comprehensible manner.
When a speech generates sound, it is received by our auditory organs. Hearing is a passive activity because we hear even those sounds that we do not want to, such as the sounds of a moving fan and opening or closing of doors or windows. However, we pay attention only to those sounds that we want to hear. This filtering of sounds is possible because of the coordination between our auditory sense organs and brain. This is how hearing and listening are different activities. Listening is the process by which we focus on sounds that we choose to pay attention to.
Regarding the importance of listening skill in learning a language, Dr. B. Ballard said, “We are ever liable to forget that language is first and foremost a spoken thing, not a written thing. Its appeal is to the ear, not to the eye.”
The conditions that affect language learning by listening are given below:
► The learner should be attentive during the listening process.
► The volume of speech or sound should be appropriate.
► The auditory sense organs of the learner should be normal.
► The learner should be able to understand the meaning of the words conveyed through the sounds.
► The interest of the learner also affects the language learning process.
The primary aims of developing listening skills are to:
► Understand and infer concepts, ideas, facts, etc. by merely listening.
► Identify the speaker’s purpose and tone.
► Facilitate verbal interaction between people.
► Lay the foundation of learning a language.
Speech is normally produced by manipulating the airstream coming out of the lungs. It is produced with the help of speech organs like vocal cord, palate, teeth, tongue and lips. During speech, it is important that both the speaker and the listener share the same linguistic code or language. The basic components of speech include stress, rhythm, intonation, fluency, juncture and pause.
Recent researches in the teaching of English language claim that, in a classroom, the teacher speaks for almost two-third of the time, while students are mere listeners. A major repercussion of this is that many students remain underconfident even after leaving the school. Emphasising on the importance of speech, F.G. French said, “Speech is the ground work, and all the rest are built upon it. Through speech, the pupils learn to make direct connections between the English word or phrase and the subject, action or idea it bears. He learns the habit of using words in the correct sentence patterns and phrase patterns and he can learn this in no other way.”
The primary aims of developing speaking skills are to:
► Develop the habit of speaking sentences clearly and comprehensibly.
► Be able to express feelings and emotions in speech or statements.
► Become capable of understanding the meaning of the spoken words or sentences.
► Enable the use of correct words, spelling, stress, rhyme, fluency, pause and appropriate phonetic transcription.
► Make the learner a good and confident speaker.
Some suggestions to improve speaking skills are as given below:
► Using speaking drills for self-training.
► Using audio-visual teaching aids to learn the correct articulation, pronunciation and style.
► Using speaking tasks or practicing (both formally and informally).
Reading is one of the most important skills in the language learning process. A child’s education is considered incomplete if the child does not have the ability to read. According to W. S. Gray, “Reading is a form of experience. It brings us in contact with the mind of great authors, with the written accounts of their experiences made by them in various fields.” Reading is also the best way to learn and acquire a new language.
The primary characteristics of reading are as given below:
► Reading is of two types – oral or loud reading and silent reading.
► Reading involves complex cognitive skills.
► Reading is selective as it is based on the reader’s choice.
► The speed of reading varies according to the content and the objectives of reading.
The main aims for developing reading skills are to:
► Read English or any other new language with accuracy, fluency and expression.
► Be confident in reading.
► Comprehend the text.
► Cultivate the habit of reading in the learner.
► Inspire the learner to derive pleasure from reading.
► Establish a relationship between spoken words and printed words.
A reader may read articles, books, essays or novels according to his/her interest mood or state of mind. On this basis, reading can be classified into the following types:
► Silent reading
► Aloud reading
► Intensive reading
► Extensive reading
► Library reading
► Supplementary reading
Writing is a graphical representation of speech. It is an important medium for humans to organise their thoughts and desires, and communicate them to their fellow beings. Writing is an important aspect of language teaching as writing skills reinforce oral and reading work. According to Bell, “Writing is a difficult art; it requires complete control of the muscles of the hand and wrist and this control a small child does not naturally possess.” The art of writing has developed and varied with the cultural growth of humanity.
The main aims of developing writing skills are to:
► Communicate the thoughts and ideas in writing.
► Answer questions in examination or complete tasks.
► Understand how writing is linked to memorisation (through practice).
► Develop literature-books, articles, etc.
A good handwriting should be legible and written in simple and clean script, with proper spacing between words and lines. It should have uniformity in size, style, space, alignment, etc.
There are various factors that render the handwriting bad.
Some of these are as given below:
► Lack of practice.
► Bad sitting posture.
► Lack of freedom in proper hand movement.
► Way of holding a pen or pencil.
► Use of ball or fountain pen at an early stage of writing.
In order to improve one’s handwriting, the following suggestions can be put to use:
► Use of four-lined notebooks in the starting phase of writing skill.
► Use of calligraphy notebooks.
► Use of proper writing materials.
► Holding pen or pencil in a proper way.
► Proper seating arrangement as well as posture.
Scan this QR code to watch a video on the concept of language skills
Answer the following questions by selecting the most appropriate option.
15. The best way to sensitise young learners to rhythm and intonation is
(1) by making young learners listen to nursery rhymes and recite them effectively.
(2) by making young learners copy out simple poems in neat handwriting.
(3) by explaining the rules of phonetics in simple words.
(4) by reading out poems in different metres and explaining them.
1. Language skills are best learnt
(1) if they are taught in an integrated manner.
(2) with the help of challenging and mechanical language drills.
(3) when they are introduced in isolation one skill at a time.
(4) only through written tests and assignments.
2. For English as a second language, ‘acquisition-poor environment’ is one where
(1) Hindi/Mother tongue is the lingua franca.
(2) English language is used only in the classroom.
(3) English is not spoken at home at all.
(4) access to any learning material is unavailable to the students.
3. Constructivism is a theory where students
(1) study a variety of dissimilar samples and draw a wellfounded conclusion.
(2) form their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.
(3) are facilitated by the teacher and use a variety of media to research and create their own theories.
(4) construct their own learning aids, thereby gaining hands-on experience.
4. A person, who is a fluent speaker, is likely to possess
(1) bodily kinesthetic ability.
(2) musical ability.
(3) verbal-linguistic ability.
(4) logical-mathematical ability.
5. Which of the following is not a language skill?
6. Among the four language skills, which pair constitutes the reinforcement skills?
(1) Reading and listening.
(2) Speaking and listening
(3) Reading and speaking
(4) Speaking and writing
7. How many stages are there in the acquisition of the mother tongue or native language?
8. Which of the following does not fit in the context of language learning skills?
9. An example of using an idiom is
(1) ‘Make hay while the sun shines’.
(2) ‘Her speech at the assembly had hit the nail on the head’.
(3) ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity’.
(4) ‘The rainbow has seven shades of three basic colours’.
10. In the Indian scenario, which language is regarded as a second language?
11. Teachers do not give the meaning of new words to learners directly because
(1) the learners already know the meanings of the words.
(2) their vocabulary will not be enriched.
(3) learners do not like to be given the meanings of the words.
(4) it prevents learners from discovering the meanings.
12. What is the second stage of language learning process?
13. Students who do not have the opportunities to use the target language outside the classroom demonstrate much lower levels of language competency. This can be overcome by
(1) conducting tests periodically to motivate them to learn.
(2) giving them a set of commonly used sentences and vocabulary which they are expected to use.
(3) setting separate tasks which are easier, with more time to complete them.
(4) engaging them in specific language-focussed tasks which are indirectly monitored by their group leaders.
14. Knowledge of more than one language
(1) causes interference in learning a new language.
(2) becomes a burden to the teacher in the language classroom.
(3) confuses learners while learning a new language.
(4) is very helpful in teaching and learning a new language.