Knowing a language can be perceived in terms of accuracy and fluency; By accuracy, teachers and students refer to using correct sounds, words, sentences, to attentively reading of a text, avoiding lack of understanding whereas by fluency, they focus on the message, on the quick and relaxed use of the capacities which have been created during accuracy work.
For a literary text, the student must be able to read accurately and easily, and in principle, the first stage deals with this. Then, the reading of the literary text should be followed by the development of ideas. There are four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Listening and reading are called: “receptive (passive) skills” because the reader or listener receives information but he doesn’t produce it, while speaking and writing are called (active) “productive skills” because the student who speaks or writes in the language he studies, “produces” information in that language.
“Speaking and listening are said to relate to language expressed through the aural medium and reading and writing are said to relate to language expressed through the visual medium”.
It is often used the term ‘receptive’ or ‘passive’ vocabulary to represent language items which can only be distinguished and understood in the context of reading and listening material, and ‘productive’ or ‘active’ vocabulary to be language items which students can recognise and use properly in speech and writing.
Very often language users combine the skills when using it in conversation or when writing; speaking and listening happen simultaneously, and students may read and write at the same time when they write something based on what they hear.
We can summarise the four major skills as follows :
SKILLS SPEECH WRITTEN WORD
RECEPTIVE LISTENING READING
PRODUCTIVE SPEAKING WRITING
Nowadays, a balanced spread of work on all language skills is taken into account when teaching a foreign language, particularly emphasizing listening and speaking.
It is important to know that the area of skills doesn’t exist in isolation, because there can be no speaking or commenting upon a literary text without reading it first while listening to a literary text always brings some new details and may provide the suitable stimulus for students to tell their own stories, or it can be the starting point for a written account; in fact, all these three skills really help students improve their writing activities.
1. Widdowson,, H.G. Teaching language as communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.p. 168
2 Harmer, Jeremy, (2007),The Practice of English Language Teaching, New Edition, Longman, London, p.17.