English is a global language that started in Europe but has been adapted by other countries as a lingua franca. It is a language that is mainly used for communication between and among people. Just like any other language, English contains the four language skills that need to be mastered in order for an individual to manipulate the language for fluent communication. The four language skills include reading, listening, speaking and writing, the learners find them difficult, and this affects their education and communication. The focus is to explore strategies that help in the development of the four language skills taught in EFL classroom.
EFL language skills
English has become a global language even though it is not the language with the most number of native speakers; therefore, it is a lingua franca since it spread to other parts of the world and it is used as a second or third language for the purposes of communication between and among people. There are various economic, historical and cultural factors that have led to the rapid spread of English as a lingua franca. British English and American English are seen to be similar but they have many differences between them. This has led to the confusion among the people who are learning English as a lingua franca and thus it affects the receptive skills of the EFL language skills. Wilde Oscar refers and describes this situation as ‘two countries divided by a common language’.
Description of the project
Even though English is widely spoken and falsely presumed to be easy to learn and understand, learners find it difficult to manipulate the language to effectively communicate. The use of the four language skills, which is the cornerstone of the English language, proves to be challenging to learners and this has led to the poor performance not only in English but also in the other languages taught in English. This has encouraged the research of ways that can be used to help improve the development and better understanding of the four language skills to improve communication and education.
The teaching of English varies within the different levels of education. Today in most European countries, English is taught as a foreign language to ensure better understanding and fluent communication between and among people. English, just as any other language, has four language skills that one must follow in order to have enough knowledge in the subject. The four language skills include; listening, reading, speaking and writing. The focus of the project is to explore strategies that help in the development of the four language skills taught in the EFL classroom.
The four language skills are divided into two main categories, which are, receptive skills and productive skills. The receptive skills are reading and listening while the productive skills are writing and speaking. Listening is a receptive language skill that learners find the most difficult. Listening is further divided into intensive listening and extensive listening, where both of them are very important and a student has to pay close attention to get good speaking habits. The main reason behind listening being considered the most difficult language skill is that learners always feel like they are under pressure to understand every word. In order to improve this skill, the teacher has to try different methods of teaching.
One, the teacher has to help the learners to be well prepared by giving them an overview of the topic of discussion. Secondly, the teacher has to encourage the learners to anticipate the topic of discussion to make them more curious and thus more attentive. Thirdly, the teacher has to ensure that the learners are attentive and encourage them to get rid of any destruction material. It is biologically proven that there is a concentration span that an individual can handle and the older the individual gets, the more the concentration span increases. Therefore, the teacher has to ensure that a class period is within the concentration span of the learners and this will promote the extensive and intensive listening of the learners. Lastly, the teacher has to include a question, answer session after every discussion, and listen to the answers the learners give without ignoring any. This will help the teacher to gauge the learner’s level of understanding.
Reading is also a receptive language skill, which just like listening, is divided further into intensive reading and extensive reading. Reading is assumed to by many learners to be tedious and thus the teacher has to make it interesting and easy to understand. This can be done by in various ways. First, the teacher has to make the content interesting and easy to understand for example, by adding picture presentations or by learners being given a role to play. The teacher has to ensure that the learners are well prepared this is can be achieved through the teacher giving the learners an overview of the work they are to read and telling them the main theme for the work. The teacher should support the learners by helping them to explain difficult words and texts and encouraging them to write them down for future reference. The teacher should encourage silent reading because it enables the learner to concentrate and understand better. Development in technology has played a great role in helping the learner to read. This is through the audio books, online textbooks that have created a spectrum of diverse information and the use of navigators in computers. Learners can improve their receptive vocabulary by researching about individual words and knowing how to use them in sentences.
Speaking is a productive language skill that seems easy at first but it is more complicated since it entails more than just word pronunciation. The teacher should not expect the learners to communicate better than how the teachers do or how they are taught. However, as the levels of education increase, the learners are expected to be able to manipulate the language and make their communication and expression of themselves to others more fluent. Learners can be encouraged to undertake speaking activities such as songs, poems and chants in the case of the primary pupils. As for high school students, the speaking skills are natured through topic presentations in a subject and competitions such as public speaking and debates. In higher education, speaking is improved through presentations, projects and competitions. However, there are learners with disabilities in communication such as children with autism. Children with autism can be stimulated to ask questions using establishing operation as a motive variable.
Writing is a productive language skill that most learners take a long time to master. This is because writing entails handwriting, layout, punctuation, and spelling. Even though speaking and writing are both productive skills, they are separated from each other due to the difference in grammar and vocabulary pg. 255. Intergrading sentence punctuation, the use of the right tense and punctuation, having a good content and a legible handwriting at the same time is quite challenging. Writing has been encouraged and tried to be improved through writing competitions, writing essays in learning institutions and writings essays as part of college application. However, technology has played a great part in discouraging and disadvantaging writing skills. This is through the use of writing texts and even emails using initials and short form of words. This has made many people, especially learners, to forget spellings and good sentence construction.
Presentation of a science project is an example of an activity that integrates all the four language skills. In a science project, the learner is expected to read in order to get all the facts about the project. The learner write down his plan and his presentation chat just to make sure the work is well organised. The learner also writes a report about the project that will be submitted to the teacher. During the presentation session, the learner has to listen to the judge’s comments and instructions and to the projects presented by other learners. Finally, the learner should be able to speak and communicate fluently so that his or her project is well understood by all the listeners. This activity has included all the four language skills to be successful.
Significance of the research
The significance of the research is that it has helped to provide teachers with the strategies that can be used to improve the understanding and proper usage of the four language skills. It also gives the teachers the idea of integrating all the four language skills in a single class lesson or activity done by the learners to help the learners practice and improve their manipulation of the English language. It has pointed out the advantages and the disadvantages of technology in education, especially the language skills. The most important reason for the research is to improve the quality of English taught in schools and in return, leads to the improvement of education.
Research question and methodology
The question that the research is trying to answer is; what strategies have been put in place to help in the development of the four language skills in an EFL classroom? To help get the information to answer the question, the method used in research was collecting information from printed media and internet documents regarding the topic of discussion. The media includes books, articles, journals and website documents. Information was sampled randomly from the various printed media to obtain diverse knowledge and opinion of writers and researchers.
During the research, ethics of research were adhered to. The information collected from the reference materials is not exactly, as they are in the reference material. This is to avoid copying another author’s work and thus it protects the intellectual property of authors while at the same time encourages collaboration. In the body of the essay, citations are included to help a person identify where the information was found and this promotes honesty and encourages more research. The print media used as reference are from different authors who wrote their work in different years and this is to help avoid or minimize bias information thus promoting objectivity.
Limitations of the research
Despite the fact that the research done and the information obtained is true and accurate, there were a number of limitations faced during the research. The primary limitation is that most of the references focused on language skills at the primary level of education and this led to very little information on language skills at the secondary and higher education level. Another limitation is that the source of information was secondary and this led to the research done being based on the information collected by other authors. Accurate research information should be obtained from both primary and secondary sources to avoid bias and to present a spectrum of ideas and information that encourages more research. Lastly, not all the print media on the topic could be accessed since some of them require passwords and username identifications. This limits the information acquired and leads to bias information since the research is based on information that can be accessed instead of the diverse information written on the topic.
The results obtained from the research is that there are various strategies that have been put in place to help improve the development of language skills in English even though the methods differ in the different levels of education. From the research, it is highlighted that the teacher is the one that plays the major role in ensuring that the four language skills are well understood and used by learners, especially in communication. It has been noted that technology can be both an advantage and a disadvantage in the development of the four language skills. This helps to control the use of technology in education by the learners and encourages funding technology in education by the people, capitalists and governments. There are individuals with disabilities such as autism in children that are being helped to communicate fluently and plenty of research has been done to help come up with strategies to help them communicate like the other individuals.
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