Integrating the Main Language Skills in EFL Classes: Why and How?!

Integrating the main four language skills means combining reading, writing listening and speaking in foreign language teaching in the classroom.

In some cases, teachers separate language skills and highlight just one skill at a time. That was often for instructional purposes but even if it were possible to develop one or two skills effectively in the absence of the other language skills at the beginning stages, this does not ensure the real communication using the language in which not only all the language skills but also communicative skills are employed simultaneously.

In a normal situation, people use all language skills to communicate so experts in foreign language teaching have been moving in recent years toward integrating the four main language skills in EFL classes.

All new courses which are being created nowadays seem to integrate these language skills with communicative skills to improve learners’ communicative competence using accurate and fluent language.

Reasons for Integrating the Four Main Language Skills:

  • By integrating the four skills, the students experiment and take risks with learning the foreign language which makes learning more lovely and productive.
  • By integrating the four skills, we are providing a certain input that becomes a basis for further intake, which in turn will become a new output.
  • Production and reception are two sides for the same coin.  
  • Interaction means sending and receiving messages.
  • Written and spoken languages have a relationship with each other.
  • This Integration will reflect the interrelationship among language, culture, and society.
  • By inviting all four skills into an activity, we focus on what learners can do with a language.
  • Of course, one skill will reinforce another.
  • The integration of all the four skills can contribute toward a more real-life environment for both teachers and learners, the thing which may make learning more meaningful and motivating.
  • The integration will ensure that students will learn to use English both fluently and accurately.
  • Teaching integratively support the connections between language and the way we feel, think and act.

How to Integrate the Four Main Language Skills in Your Teaching:

  • Aim ultimately to preserve accuracy while still making use of authentic communicative activities for the students.
  • Use the “PPP” (Present, Practice, Produce) approach. This is basically a structural approach that incorporates a final ‘free production’ stage where learners have the chance to use the structure they have been practicing in a communicative activity where they are primarily focused on meaning.
  • Use the communicative activities in which students produce certain structures according to certain real-life situations. While they do so, provide feedback to encourage students to use grammar accurately.
  • When presenting and practicing new linguistic items, provide communicative activities to reinforce students moving from “controlled practice’ to “free production”
  • Always present new language to students in rich contexts. They are then provided with situations in which they can practice the language, through role-playing, acting out scenes or by asking and answering questions.

Final Word:

It is important to understand that the main purpose of integrating the four language skills is developing real-life communication, which means that it is very important to provide students with authentic materials and create real-life situations to increase opportunities for real communication and continuous practice in order to gain both fluency and accuracy in using the language.

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