for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reading Writing Listening Speaking- The Four Necessities in Language

This short essay was written as an article for my students' English Corner and it is not at all considered as an in-depth analysis of the four language skills.

ny language is difficult and easy. Language serves many purposes. Absence of language is mere dearth of communication. The role that language plays is immense, since time embarked. 
Identified as the need of the hour, the four necessities in language or commonly known as the four skills- Reading, writing, listening and speaking plays a vital role in any language learning quest… The four skills are the pinnacles of language. They are separate yet bound together with an inseparable bond. The four skills as explained…(from what I feel and know…generalized too)

                                                       I've traveled the world twice over, 
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with reading
~ Anonymous ~

Reading is fun-way to knowledge hunt. We read or see innumerable   quotes based on reading. How far is it true? It is true indeed- reading brings wisdom. Through reading, we learn a lot and it is the most prominent language skill.  But the fact of making a reading habit or being good at it is the question here. For now, students, adults and even educators read very less. It is a well-known fact that when there were no televisions or computers or other forms of entertainment, reading was a primary leisure activity among the educated lot. People would spend hours reading books and travel to lands far away or enjoy love, cherish victorious moments and live history-in their minds. The tragedy is that, with time, people have lost their skill and passion to read. Reading has declined among every group of people in today’s world of technology and entertainment. There are many other exciting and thrilling options available, aside from books. And that is a shame because reading offers a productive approach to improving language- vocabulary and word power for example. When you possess rich vocabulary, you listen better as you understand more; then you can write better with more words to choose from; obviously you can speak better because of your intense word power. It is advisable to indulge in at least half an hour of reading a day to keep abreast of the various styles of writing, update ones knowledge and learn new vocabulary. Thus, the need to develop a habit to read is very important. Well, the skills will hopefully jump in automatically once the strong genuine habit has been established. The best and easiest approach is however, to make a small effort to read a piece a day… you will surely succeed.

Writing is a gem to pick. A person with good writing skills is always victorious at expressing oneself. Writing skill is the ‘evidence’' of your intellectual level or the level of your expression. Writing process is taught in schools and colleges but, do you practice it in reality? Or Do you start to write as soon as the question is read. Pre Writing opens the doors to effective writing where you brainstorm almost anything under the topic or theme. You find a topic, narrow it, and consider the purpose, audience as well as the form of writing.  You are not concerned with creating whole sentences or paragraphs at this point rather you should aim at defining an idea and getting it rolling.  Then we write our first draft which is a compilation of our random thoughts. This is where our words form sentences and paragraphs. The third step is revision. Revision means “Seeing again.” Here you refine the ideas in their compositions. Revising consists of three activities: rereading the rough draft, sharing the rough draft in a writing group/with anyone, and revising on basis of feedback. You can add or substitute thoughts and words. The same can be done with deleting and moving your words in the draft. Editing is the next big thing. The cleaning up process where the clutter is cleared and ideas are allowed to shine happens here. We tend to putting the piece of writing into its final form and you fine-tune your work by focusing on correct punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, and paragraphing. The goal here is to make the writing ‘optimally readable.” The last is publishing you final piece. Each step is interchangeable and can be done as many as you dare or till your writing perfects. I always tell my students to work out at least three drafts. So this is it with writing…easy? It would turn out simply simple if you make it a habit and practice like you practice your favourite song or dance. Tip: Avoid electronic English (u for you)

Listening is yet another necessitate in language. The more efficient a listener you are… the more successful and satisfied you will be. In the words of Janis we find that Listening…is not merely hearing: it is a state of receptivity that permits understanding of what is heard and grants the listener full partnership in the communication process. We need to develop a keen interest in making ourselves better ears. The fact that we listen more than our ears and we listen far more than the sound is very true. As a member in a society, listening is one important skill to possess as good listening is an integral part of communication process. A good listener shows readiness and possesses an ability to manipulate the sound into words and their contextual meaning. Then the good listener relates given meanings to other experiences and he shares responsibility with the speaker.  Academically, listening skills plays a vital role in the teaching-learning cycle. A student learns better when he can listen better. A teacher is also in need of a good listening skill. All the way, listening should be enhanced in your life as to be a greater speaker. The attitude of the listener is another stepping stone to achieve this skill.

Speaking is all special. This skill is as important as the others. When you have words read, ideas written and thoughts heard, all you need is to express- your speaking skill. What you speak will determine the expressiveness in you. Speaking has many masks- public, friendly or academic contexts are few from the lot. Each context has the same need for the skill. Statistics reveal that when you talk, you use about five syllables per second and there are more than forty different speech sounds. Thus, every time you talk, your audience must catch all the five syllables per second out of the air, must recognize the forty sounds in them, must translate the syllables into words and finally they must translate the words into thoughts- you got to help them succeed in doing so.  If you slur or muffle sounds, or project the sounds weakly, the listener will miss a lot, failing you as a good speaker. Therefore, proper pronunciation, diction and building a good vocabulary should be on your prioritized list.  Tip: Avoid one word answers or queries.

As a student, the skills of language will make you academically sound and the miracle it will have when you enter the world as an adult is magical is always a guarantee   Mind you, the four skills never stand out as individual areas but they form a chain , where you break one ring of the chain and the whole chain would collapse. In today's competitive world, your command over a language and even more, the level of your English can determine your life.
Thus, it is  important for you to understand the four skills and give it a consistent effort... the result will be rewarding!

1 comment:

  1. Wah. Nice information. For me it is useful. Thanks From Shyamreddy