Language is one of the most direct means of communication. It is a particular kind of system for encoding and decoding information that helps human being to communicate.
Knowing a language implies the use of four skills:
LISTENING + SPEAKING + READING + WRITING
Skills needed to master a language The four skills can be classified as follows: Jeremy Harmer Council of Europe 1970 Threshold Levels Writting Speaking PRODUCTIVE Reading comprehension Listening comprehension RECEPTIVE WRITTEN ORAL SKILL MEDIUM
The main aim is to speak fluently from imitation stage to free production. Periods of silence are normal. According to Krashen, the ability to speak fluently is not synchronized with time, it emerges once the input is understood.
At Basic levels : pronunciation, structures and vocabulary must be learnt in a correct way.
At Advanced levels : fluency is what matters because the students have grammatical competence
Material Should be varied and focused on the students interests. Children need to see immediate results, so we should give successful activities with basic vocabulary: (numbers, colours, greetings, instructions, asking for permission, communicative strategies) If they listen to this language over and over, they will introduce it as part of their active vocabulary.
Expressing elemental grammatical structures.
Use extra linguistic strategies to help to transmit the message.
Using the language in a appropriate way
Imitation: repeat individually or in groups. Chorusing.
Practice: Activities controlled by teacher. The objective is the correct learning of the structure.
Free Production: Put into practice what had been learned without the teacher’s control. Errors will be commented at the end of the activity.
Activities Should enable students to develop fluency, interact with others through language, and should be appropriate to the student’s level.
Pre-communicative They follow a model: Drills, Guided Dialogs, Questions
Communicative They take place in the productions stage: Inform.gap act., Role-play, problem solving, Following instructions, Describing personal experiences, Communicative games, Reciting and singing…
Writing is permanent , has unique graphic features , has more correct grammatical structures , is better organized because it has more time to be prepared , it should have clear ideas due the lack of interaction between addresser and addressee. At beginning levels teacher should follow this sequence when teaching:
LISTENING > SPEAKING > READING > WRITING
PRECISION: Time for preparation, organization and structured expressions.
CLARITY: Ambiguity must be avoid due to absence of immediate answer.
It is considered as the most difficult of the four skills due to the difference between phonetic and written levels. In Real Life we need to write, and writing reinforces the learning of oral communication and helps to retain words or sentences.
Writing for oneself (Shopping lists, notes, addresses, diaries, recipes,…)
To maintain social relationships (greetings, letters,…)
For entertainment (Songs, jokes, games,…)
Writing words and elementary linguistic forms correctly, appropriately and with coherence.
Methodology Writing is a dynamic process that should be taught and learned step by step. The topic should be focused on the students’ interests. The student should be involved on the correction of the work. We should integrate all the other skills in the process of writing.
Copying : reinforce spelling and sentence structure
Controlled Practice : guided activities + connectors of sentences
Free Production : in primary education should still be guided giving aids to choose the correct vocabulary and structures to use.
Spelling, Reading comprehension, Matching, Consolidating grammar. Words in order, Communicative activities, Parallel writing form a model text, Summarizing, Completing, Translating, Substitution drills, Guided composition, Dictations, Free Composition (letters, stories)
According to the Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics is: “the teaching of the language skills in conjunction with each other, as when a lesson involves activities that relate listening and speaking to reading and writing”
INTEGRATED SKILLS ACTIVITIES will help both, students and teachers to practice in depth the four skills, but the teacher is always the one that emphasizes the work on a concrete skill.
Project works : with topics about the students’ interests (food, animals, descriptions, etc)
Role-plays : Use of the language in an imaginary situation.
Communicative competence is made up of four subcompetence areas: linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic.
Linguistic competence is knowing how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of a language. Linguistic competence asks: What words do I use? How do I put them into phrases and sentences?
Sociolinguistic competence is knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately, given the setting, the topic, and the relationships among the people communicating. Sociolinguistic competence asks: Which words and phrases fit this setting and this topic? How can I express a specific attitude (courtesy, authority, friendliness, respect) when I need to? How do I know what attitude another person is expressing?
Discourse competence is knowing how to interpret the larger context and how to construct longer stretches of language so that the parts make up a coherent whole. Discourse competence asks: How are words, phrases and sentences put together to create conversations, speeches, email messages, newspaper articles?
Strategic competence is knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to work around gaps in one’s knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language and in the context. Strategic competence asks: How do I know when I’ve misunderstood or when someone has misunderstood me? What do I say then? How can I express my ideas if I don’t know the name of something or the right verb form to use?