Development of various skill in English

Development of various skill in English

There are many skills which are essential for learning English.

They are as follows-

(i) Listening and speaking skill

(ii) Reading skill

(iii) Writing skill

(iv) Structural skill

We should develop all these skills in the students who are required to learn English.

(i) Listening and specking skill-Listening and speaking lay the foundation of language learning. Hence, they are called fundamental skills. Every other skill is built on it. That is why, it is said that speech is language and language is primarily speech. Knowing a language is the ability to understand and speak it.

The role of listening and speaking English-Development of listening and speaking skills has an important role to play in the teaching of English. The ability to understand spoken English is needed in ordinary conversation, exchange of greeting and receiving orders as directions. Listening to lectures, talks, running commentary on matches and news bulletin is an essential part of learning English. The ability to speak English is needed in communicating with other people, foreigners and people from other states of the country. A person who wants to learn English must try to understand spoken English. A person who understands spoken English can-

(a) Recognise the characteristic English speech sounds in isolation as well as combination.

(b) Distinguish such sounds from similar sounds in mother tongue.

(c) Understand the meaning of words used and grammatical meanings of structures.

A person who speaks English can-

(a) Produce the characteristic English speech sounds, both in isolation and in combination.

(b) Use appropriate words and structures to impress the intended meaning, and

(c) Use appropriate stress and intonation patterns.

Development of listening and speaking skills

The two skills of listening and speaking are usually grouped. Together because they are interlinked . The first important point in developing skills of listening and speaking is training in recognizing characteristic English speech sounds, including stress and intonation patterns.

The following types of activities should be used to train pupils, ears to discriminate sounds-

(i) The teacher gives various commands and the pupils perform the activities.

(ii) The teacher writes pairs of words and the pupils tell whether they are the same or different, for example, slip and sleep are different words, though, they seem similar.

(iii) The teacher displays various pictures. Then, he makes a statement about one of them and the pupils identify the picture.

Apart from these activities, the pupils should be trained in listening to connected speech as normal speech. For such listening practice records and pre-recorded cassettes can also be used. Students should also be encouraged to listen to radio programmers, see English films and narrate at pine what they .have heard or seen.

For the development of the skill of speaking English, the importance of teacher’s own pronunciation cannot be neglected. The students learn to speak English in the way they hear it being spoken. Hence, the teacher of English should learn to speak good English himself before teaching others to speak so. For this purpose, he should listen to linguaphone, pre-recorded cassettes, radio and T.V. apart from consulting English pronouncing dictionaries.

To develop pupils, skill of speaking English, ample practice in English speech and pronunciation should be given to them. These exercises should be integrated with the oral practice of pattei:ns or structures. It can also be combined with dialogues and reading. Moreover mechanical dvices like linguaphone and tape recorders can also be used for the purpose.

Meaning and importance of reading

Reading is the process of looking carefully at written or printed symbols and translating them into the spoken symbols. The spoken symbols are associated with the objects, qualities or actions for which they stand. Thus, we can say that reading consists of three elements the written symbol, the spoken symbol and the sense. We can also say that reading is the ability to extract from the writteR or printed pages, the thoughts, facts and information required.

Importance of reading

Reading is a very important skill in learning a foreign language, because it opens a good store of useful and interesting material to the students. Reading or the ability to understand the written language is the most useful skill for the learners. Dr. West, who had a great experience of teaching English to Indian students gives his verdict that reading should be given a key place in the total scheme of teaching English as a foreign language in Indian schools.

Methods of teaching reading

(i) Alphabetic Method

(ii) Phonic Method

(iii) Syllable Method

(iv) Word Method

(v) Phrase Method

(vi) Sentence Method

(vii) Story Method

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(i) Alphabetic Method-This method consists of first teaching the pupils the letters in their alphabetic order and then teaching them to read words by speaking them aloud. This is not a good method of teaching reading skills, because letters of the alphabet in themselves have no meaning and interest for the pupils. Moreover, the letters in English do not make the same sounds in different words. This method is also unpsychological. While reading we never see letters but word groups.

This method is now condemned because the names of letters do not always represent the pronunciation of words. For example, ‘ut’ is pronounced different in ‘but’ and ‘put’. In the same way, ‘a’ does not indicate the sound by which it is identified in words like ‘call’, ‘hand’ and ‘calf’. The 26 letters in English represent 44 major sounds. Meaningless repetition of letters and words of ten create in children a permanent dislike for reading. The method being analytical is slow and painful.

It is not a psychological method of teaching. It makes the pupils feel dull and the teacher lethargic because the main emphasis of this method is to give an unnecessary drill of letters and words.

Despite its above disadvantages, the method has one great advantage. It gives the .child ample time to see words, correctly written and thereby, enables him to field up the essential visual image of words without which correct spelling is impossible.

(2) Phonic Method-This method consists in teaching the sounds of the letters instead of their names. It is also a poor method of teaching English, because the student becomes particular in pronouncing the letters and loses the meaning of the words.

(3) Syllable Method-Tbs method consists in teaching reading by first introducing the syllables, such as ‘ba’, ‘be’, ‘bi’, ‘bu’, ‘bo’ and then blending them to form words. This method is also not good because like the alphabetic and phonic methods, it pays attention to the elements or parts of words and not to the words as a whole.

Advantage

Since syllables form compact sounds, many consonants can only be pronounced accurately when they are combined with vowels. This method is helpful is reading such sounds, so, it has been found better than the alphabetic method.

Limitations

(i) This method is analytic, so, it is hard to understand.

(ii) Syllables do not carry meaning and are insignificant.

(iii) Remembering all the syllable structures of English puts a heavy memory load on pupils.

(iv) The syllable structure of English is complex. Hence, it becomes hard to read for students at the middle class level.

 

(4) Word Method-In this method, a word is given for reading in the beginning. The pupils are taught to read it by associating it with the accompanying picture. This method is better than  the previous methods, because it lays great emphasis on the meaning of what is read. But this method has also its limitations. It encourages the habit of reading one word at a time. Reading should include in its fold groups of words at a time and not separate words.

Advantages

(i) It is psychological, because the teacher proceeds from the known to the unkown and from the concrete to the abstract.

(ii) It teaches words as complete units which are basic units of thought.

(iii) It stresses the learning of words as whole before elements are singled out.

(iv) It focuses on the meaning of what is read.

(v) It is the easiest method of learning to read. This is why it is called the global method.

(vi) It is economical, because it ensures rapid progress in reading.

(vii) It focuses on perceptual as well as contextual meanings.

(viii) It is a natural method, because we begin to talk in words not in letters.

(ix) Since word is the unit of teaching this method facilitates oral work.

(x) It arouses the child’s interest from the very beginning.

(xi) It employs direct method. Therefore, it has all the merits of the direct method .

Limitations

The limitations of this method are as follows-

(i) It does not help in tackling new combination of letters.

(ii) It cannot be used for teaching words which cannot be represented by pictures such as a, an, the etc.

(iii) It does not develop the necessary accuracy and independence in word recognition. Hence, it does not help progress in reading.

(iv) It helps in developing the habit of guessing.

(v) It ignores spelling.

(vi) It involves all the limitations of the indirect method.

(vii) It treats almost all the words as independent objects. As such, it does not help progress in reading.

(viii) It puts a very great strain on the child’s memory because he is to remember the sounds of many words.

(ix) It does not enable the child to acquire properly the ability to spell. In  spite  of  all  these  limitations,  many  schools have recommended this method.

According to P.C. Wren, ‘It is the one and only rational method.’

Prof. Moris says that, ‘The word method is unquestionably the means of inculcating the reading skill, in view of the phonetic character of English orthography.’

In fact, with judicious use of aids, the teacher can employ this Method with success.

(a) Phrase Method-In this method. Phrases are given for reading instead of simple words. The phrases can be prepositional phrases such as on the table, in the bag etc. or verb phrases like has been playing, had been working etc. The phrases are more interesting than the words and carry more meaning than words. But a phrase does not express a complete idea and hence lacks complete meaning.

Assumptions

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(i) Phrase’s convey meaning.

(ii) At each fixation of eye, a reader recognizes not a word; but a group of words.

(iii) Phrases are more interesting than words.

(iv) Phrases are more suitable units of teaching.

Advantages

(i) Phrases can be presented with more interesting material aids.

(ii) Since group of words, or  phrases are recognized  at each fixation of eyes rapid growth in reading has been found.

(iii) This method helps in extending eye span.

According to Patel, ‘The word is too small a unit of speech and the sentence it too long a unit to be read at a time.’

Limitations

(i) It places emphasis on meaning rather than on reading.

(ii) It has all the limitations of the word method.

(iii) It is an uneconomical method of mastering words.

Criticism-In the words of Menon and Patel, ‘The phrase methods have all the advantages and limitations of the word method. It places emphasis on meaning and is an uneconomical method of word mastery.’

(6) Sentence Method-In sentence method, the minimum teaching unit is the sentence and not the word. The pupils learn to read sentences first and then words and letters. Sentence method of teaching reading to beginners has several advantages over the other methods. In fact, it is the sentence and not the word, which is the unit of speech. The word as a unit of speech has no meaning of its own. Words attain meaning only when ‘they are used in association with the words proceeding or following them.

Sentence method has several advantages. It offers help to the pupils to extract meaning from the context. It also embodies continuity of meaning. This method lays the foundation of all the attitudes and skills required for good reading.

Advantages

(i) It supports Gestalt’s concept of learning, ‘Mind sees the whole and analyses it later.’ It is possible only by following this method.

(ii) It emphasis the meaning of the material read.

(iii) It encourages current habits of eye-span.

(iv) It promotes intelligent reading.

(v) It is interesting and it initiates activity in the class.

(vi) One of the greatest values of the sentence method lies in the help it offers to the pupils from the context and from the continuity of meaning that can be embodied in the material.

(vii) It develops a thoughtful reading attitude.

(viii) It is a psychological and natural method of teaching reading because children love to speak sentences.

(ix) It develops fluency in speaking and reading.

If the sentence method is well supplied it lays the foundation of all the attitudes and skills required for good reading, a thoughtful reading attitude, a clear grasp of meaning, accuracy and independence in word-recognition.

(7) The Story Method-This method is a step formed on the sentence method limit, a number of sentences forming a short story are presented. The teacher tells the story in a modified form.

Then, discusses its events or details. After that, he directs the attention of the pupils to the story as printed in their books or written on the black-board. As the pupils are already familiar with the events, they are asked to identify them in the individual sentences within the story. These sentences are picked out again and again until the students are able to recognize them easily. In the end, the sentences are analyzed into words. After that, the word method is followed.

Advantages

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(i) It creates interest in the child.

(ii) It is a psychological method, because children have a natural interest in stories.

(iii) It gives a complete unit of thought. This is because there are a number of events in a story.

(iv) It arouses interest in reading activities, and thus, it overcomes some of the disadvantages of the word and sentence method.

Limitations

(i) It does not lay stress on the recognition of words.

(ii) It ignores accurate and complete reading to some extent.

(iii) It develops the habit of guess work in the pupils.

(iv) It expects too much from children by emphasizing the memorization of the sequence of events in a story.

Choosing the best method-The description of various methods with their advantages and limitations both creates a confusion about which method is best. To admit frankly, none of the methods described above is perfect in itself. In my opinion, among all the methods the combination of word method and alphabetic method is more advantageous.

We may call it the eclectic method. In this method, some words should be introduced and then, they should be analyzed into letters. The letters thus learnt should again be combined to form new words until practice is gained in the recognition and use of those letters. The best results in reading can be obtained only when both meaning and Word-recognition are emphasized from the very beginning.

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