The application of principles of effective teaching and learning to each of the four macro skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing
Any successful learning process must involve four types of learning. These include listening, speaking, reading and writing (Richard & Renandya, 2000, p. 251). The learning of a second language is no exception, as it must involve these processes too. Listening and reading form some of the most important components of the learning process. Additionally, it is important to note that reading and writing gives people a means of preserving language. On the other hand, listening and speaking are used as a means of communication as opposed to preservation. Listening and speaking helps people understand each other while reading and writing build on this understanding. The learning process is based on principles, some of which include meaning, knowledge and communication competency (Wallace, 2001, p 16). The purpose of this essay is to explain in detail how these macro-skills work and how they are related to the application of the three principles. Meaning, knowledge and communication competence enhance the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills by transforming the hidden sense of the language into a more significant form.
Listening is the process of receiving what others say. It can also be defined as the opposite of speaking. The first step of listening is hearing what the other person is saying. This involves listening attentively, which is also referred to as active listening (Helgesen, 2004, p. 56). In the learning process, listening is an important aspect as it is the first step of learning. Listening is a selective process as a person only hears that which he wants to hear. The second step in the in listening is understanding. When a person listens attentively, they can easily get the meaning of whatever they hear (Nunan, 1995, p. 89). Listening and speaking are related concepts because if one cannot understand what they hear, they cannot speak.
In relation to the principles, listening in a second language class involves a top-down process. This is whereby a person hears something, puts it into a certain context and derives meaning from it (Duzer, 1997, p. 67). This is where the schema developing strategy comes into play. Teachers build schema in order to give students some background knowledge through which to place things into context. Teachers use the schema development strategy to help students hear and understand what they are taught (Rost, 2002, p. 43). Thirdly, listening is an important aspect in the acquisition of communication competence. In order to be fully competent in a foreign language, a person must focus on effective listening that eventually leads to speaking.
Speaking is the process through which more than one person derives meaning from words using verbal symbols (Gardner, 1985, p. 86). Although indirectly, speaking is an integral part of second language acquisition. It generally involves imitating the teacher or an audio recording of the words that one is learning. Speaking is an integration of the listening and understanding skills above. This is because, if a person does not hear and understand language, they cannot speak it.
Speaking is an indirect component of the second language learning process. As opposed to listening which is fundamental, speaking only plays a supporting role in learning a second language. First, in order to derive meaning from words, it is not necessary for a person to be able to speak. However, second language teachers can use the principle of prior knowledge to help students learn faster. By building schema, teachers can enhance student’s ability to speak as they relate each word to something that they already know (Howatt & Dakin, 1974, 100). Speaking is also essential in achieving communication competence as one can gauge a person’s language level from speech. Additionally, teachers can use audio-visual methods to help fasten student’s speaking skills. Speaking helps build communication competence as it gives students the ability to make conversation.
Reading is also another important aspect of learning a second language. Through reading, teachers can gauge a student’s progress in learning language. One of the most important aspects of reading as a macro-skill is that it requires specific instructions and conscious effort (Richard & Renandya, 2000, 251). A teacher has to ensure that learners understand the relationship between letters and sounds. This is because there are some letters that appear on the written text but are not sounded during speech. Secondly, teachers can use the phonic approach to teach students the connection between written and spoken language.
In the application of principle, teachers should encourage reading for meaning. Form should only come as a sub-ordinate component after meaning (Hedge, 2002, p. 112). Students should be encouraged to read foreign language aloud as it helps them build their understanding of the language. Additionally, extensive reading helps students to build vocabulary and gain general knowledge. Reading also helps students gain communication competence as they become more conversant with the language.
Pre school children learn reading by associating the words with pictures. This builds their vocabulary and makes learning interesting and fun. Teachers can use different methods of encouraging reading. For instance, they can challenge the child to find a new word everyday. Children in kindergarten enjoy games. The teachers can introduce word plays and letter games to enhance the child’s learning development and increase their interest. Children who are at the beginners’ level enjoy making up stories. The teacher starts a story and the children are encouraged to continue developing the story. No repetition is allowed and they can be encouraged to add new words as they take turn at telling the story. At this level, the children also enjoy playing with words. The teacher can introduce some simple tongue twisters and encourage the children to repeat them aloud at different paces. This helps in developing a child’s frequency.
Writing is also a vital macro-skill in learning a second language. Writing helps learners to express their ideas in a different form other than speaking. It also helps enhance their thought organization skills. Writing plays an important role in enhancing communication competence as the expression of ideas through writing is a form of communication.
The process of writing involves four steps including planning, drafting, editing, and revising (Richard & Renandya, 2000, p. 304). Planning is the first step and involves coming up with an outline of ideas that a person wants to incorporate in their writing. Drafting involves actual writing where a person makes a rough sketch of what the actual essay will look like. Editing is the next step and involves writing the final draft while correcting mistakes from the rough draft. Revising is the last step where a person reads the whole paper again to see if there are any mistakes. A second language learner should be encouraged to follow this process of writing as it makes writing easier. Teachers should always build students schema before they start writing to give them an idea of what they should do. In summary effective writing, encourages communicative competence.
Teachers can increase the interest of the kindergarten children by activities such as tracing letters and simple pictures and coloring. Those at the intermediate level can start creating flash cards based on the lessons they have learnt during the week. They can then challenge each other with the supervision of the teacher.
In summary, the four macro-skills discussed above are essential parts of the second language learning process. Listening, which includes hearing and understanding, is the most fundamental as one cannot learn without listening (Richards, 2006, p. 34). Speaking, reading and writing also play an important role in enhancing communication competence. As seen above, teachers can use the three principles (meaning, knowledge and communication competence), to enhance the language learning process.
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