You must’ve heard that in order to become a well-rounded communicator you need to be proficient in each of the four language skills. These four skills give you opportunities to create contexts in which to use the language for the exchange of real information, evidence of their own ability (proof of learning) and, most importantly, confidence.
The 4 Essential Skills:
Listening is a receptive language skill which learners usually find the most difficult. This often is because they feel under unnecessary pressure to understand every word. The listener has to get oriented to the listening portion and be all ears. The listener is also required to be attentive. In everyday life, the situation, the speaker, and visual clues all help us to decode oral messages. In due course of listening, be in a lookout for the sign post words.
Language is a tool for communication. We communicate with others, to express our ideas, and to know others’ ideas as well. We must take into account that the level of language input (listening) must be higher than the level of language production. In primary schools elocution and recitation are main sources to master the sounds, rhythms, and intonation of the English language through simple reproduction. The manifestations of the language in games and pair work activities are encouraging source to learn to speak the language. This assists the learners to begin to manipulate the language by presenting them with a certain amount of choice, albeit within a fairly controlled situation.
Reading is a learning skill. It helps you improve all parts of the English language – vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and writing. It helps to develop language intuition in the corrected form. Then the brain imitates them, producing similar sentences to express the desired meaning. Using skimming or scanning technique to read quickly is highly effective. While reading, underlining the key words is a must. Reading Skills help the students grasp the content and draw conclusions. The students should also make it a point to familiarize themselves with the jargons and new words by making reading a habit; be it reading newspapers, articles, books, magazines etc.
Writing provides a learner with physical evidence of his achievements and he can measure his improvement. It helps to consolidate their grasp of vocabulary and structure, and complements the other language skills. It helps to understand the text and write compositions. It can foster the learner’s ability to summarize and to use the language freely. To write flawless language one should excel in the Writing Skills with the help of various methods. Importance should be given to composition and creative writing. One should also focus on coherence and cohesiveness when it comes to writing a language.
With these four skills addressed equally while learning English, the learners can be assured of having good communication skills, a great necessity in today’s competitive world.
Practical ways to enhance your skills:
It plays a very important part in learning any language. Effective listening ensures understanding and it helps improve accuracy when speaking , among other things. How can you improve your listening skills? By listening actively, i.e. paying attention not only on what is said, but also how it is said. So, listen:
1. To music –old or modern; the type you prefer, but pay attention to the lyrics. (sometimes reading the lyrics may help you understand the song)
2. To movies, TV shows, news, entertainments, the radio – try the classics. If you can watch DVD’s you can watch the movie several times. Watching with subtitles and then, when you feel more comfortable, without them. You can have an English radio at home or on your mobile phone. Even if are not actually listening to it, your ears will be getting used to the sounds of the language.
3. Attend plays, exhibitions, talks, etc. in English organized by English speaking schools or communities.
It is often the hardest of the four language skills, but as soon as you can speak a little English there are lots of ways to improve quickly and have tons of fun.
1. Join voiced chats. Technology has advanced a lot in terms of social networks so, wherever you live, you’ll find a chat-room to join.
2. Talk and record yourself. This may sound funny, but it will help you realize how you can improve by repeating the recording several times till you feel happy with the results.
3. Talk to your classmates in English when you are not in class. You can even make a group to play games, have a meal or just chat together.
It is a process of the brain and it takes time to develop: your mind has to attach meaning to the words, phrases, and expressions represented by symbols, plus get to understand the grammar and structure of the language used in the passage to read. You can read:
1. Books in English and articles on the web. Maybe, books you have already read in your mother tongue or which have been turned into movies. Try to start with easy books, even children’s books, and comics: The images will help you understand even if you don’t know all the words
2. Switch the operating system of your mobile phone, your PC or tablet into English. Associating a function, with a certain word will improve your vocabulary.
Even though it may be intimidating to a lot of people, anyone can get used to writing with a little discipline and a willingness to learn.
1. Write down words or expressions you think useful with their meaning and examples. If you see them in sentences you will remember them better. You can use them if you keep a diary.
2. Write comments in English blogs. At present blogs are websites that resemble journals. Lots of people use them to expose their ideas on a certain topic or to explain things.
In a Nutshell:
All the above-mentioned tips can be reduced to just one: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Whatever learning style you have, whatever your native language is, the key to acquire and master a foreign language is PRACTICE as much and as often as possible.