Six interrelated communication processes or language modes

The fundamentals of language learning can be divided into six interrelated communication processes or language macro skills. Listening, reading and viewing are the receptive language macro skills, and speaking, writing and presenting are the productive skills (Barrot, 2016). All six are explicitly addressed in this teaching and learning episode:

listening to texts

Listening is easily overlooked as a passive skill in literacy pedagogies (Bozorgian, 2012), but essential for students to understand and follow explanations and instructions, and to socially participate in the class. The provision of visual support, paralinguistic cues and talking with clear pronunciation and emphasis are important means to support aural language comprehension in literacy learners (Vandergrift, 2015).

reading texts

Reading is the skill where the reader creates meaning from written text. In the the early primary school years, students are “reading to learn” while in upper primary years are increasingly expected to “read to learn” (Duke et al., 2003). This requires critical literacy skills that go beyond developing decoding competence in what Peter Freebody and Allan Luke refer to as the four roles of the reader (Freebody & Luke, 1990; Luke & Freebody, 1999; Luke, 2000): code breaker, text participant, text user and text analyst.

 viewing texts

Viewing is a recent addition to the traditional four language macroskills on account of the increasing importance of visual media (Barrot, 2016). Viewing is making meaning from non-print multimedia and visual images and can be used as tool to develop cultural knowledge. As the receptive mode addressing multi-media and digital literacies, it has been included in a reconceptualised version of the ‘four resources model’ (Serafini, 2012; Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014).

speaking texts

Speaking is the productive skill in which students convey their ideas and understanding to others. Academic oral communication shares many features with written communication (Barrot, 2016). Oral competency is based on the knowledge and practice of vocabulary, pronunciation and functional grammar (Nation & Newton, 2008). Literacy students need opportunities to develop and practice English phonetic and phonological skills. These include the pronunciation of new words based on speech sounds, sound patterns, word and sentence stress and intonation patterns (Brown, 2014). Further, students need to develop fluency in speaking in applied social contexts by participating and engaging in task-oriented classroom conversations (Williams, 2001; Gibbons, 2008; Gibbons, 2015). In particular mixed-ability group work provides all learners with the opportunity to practise speaking in socially-meaningful task-oriented context (Gibbons, 2015; Im & Martin, 2015).

writing texts

Writing allows students to capture and document their ideas and understanding. It provides knowledge to both writer and reader (Barrot, 2016), which is why it is often the preferred active mode for summative assessments. For over thirty years, Australian schools have been following the genre-based approach towards teaching writing which informs the Australian Curriculum (Hammond, 1987; Derewianka, 2012).

References:

  • Barrot, J. (2016). Key Concepts in Teaching Macroskills. Available at SSRN 2728876.
  • Bozorgian, H. (2012). Listening skill requires a further look into second/foreign language learning. ISRN Education, 2012, Article ID 810129.
  • Brown, A. (2014). Pronunciation and phonetics: A practical guide for English language teachers. Routledge.
  • Derewianka, B. M. (2012). Knowledge about language in the Australian curriculum: English. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(2), 127-146.
  • Duke, N. K., Bennett-Armistead, V. S., & Roberts, E. M. (2003). Bridging the gap between learning to read and reading to learn. In Barone, D. M., & Morrow, L. M. (Eds) Literacy and young children: Research-based practices, Guilford Press. 226-242.
  • Freebody, P., & Luke, A. (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(7), 7-16.
  • Gibbons, P. (2008). ‘It was taught good and I learned a lot’: Intellectual practices and ESL learners in the middle years. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 31(2), 155–173.
  • Gibbons, P. (2015). Scaffolding Language and Learning. In Gibbons, P. (Ed) Scaffolding language,
    scaffolding learning. Teaching English language learners in the mainstream classroom. Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. 4-11
  • Hammond, J. (1987). An overview of the genre-based approach to the teaching of writing in Australia. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 10(2), 163-181.
  • Hinrichsen, J., & Coombs, A. (2014). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for
  • curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology, 21. 21334.
  • Im, S., & Martin, S. N. (2015). Using cogenerative dialogues to improve coteaching for language learner (LL) students in an inclusion science classroom. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 355-369.
  • Luke, A. (2000). Critical literacy in Australia: A matter of context and standpoint. Journal of
  • adolescent & adult literacy, 43(5), 448-461.
  • Luke, A., & Freebody, P. (1999). A map of possible practices: Further notes on the four resources model. Practically Primary, 4(2), 5-8.
  • Nation, I. S. P., & Newton, J. (2008). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. Taylor and Francis.
  • Serafini, F. (2012). Expanding the four resources model: Reading visual and multi-modal texts. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 7(2), 150-164.
  • Vandergrift, L. (2015). Researching listening. In Paltridge, B., Phakiti, A. (Eds) Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: A Practical Resource, Bloomsbury Publishing. 299-315.
  • Williams, J. A. (2001). Classroom conversations: Opportunities to learn for ESL students in mainstream classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 54(8), 750-757.
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