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The main aim of the following research paper is to show the effectiveness of the integration of the four language skills in the learning process. Valid arguments are going to be provided and valid supports are going to be given as well. The biggest reason to affirm such a statement is that there are some professional teachers whose main aim is to teach students about the topics they are supposed to be taught without making any emphasis on training and strengthening the student/learner skills regarding language. The purpose is basically to prove why an integrated-skill process in learning is absolutely effective to create a process of integral knowledge on students and also to show that by making language skills stronger at the same time, the learning process results in an excellent foreign or own language acquisition. The results of the whole research will be shown at the end of this text, in which it has been proved that integrating the four skills is an appropriate process to follow and to take into account when it comes to language competence and performance. KEY WORDS: language acquisition, learning, skills, competence, performance, integration, grammar, process, teaching by learning.




Basically, there are four main skills that must be developed making a great emphasis in order to learn a language for complete. When defining skill, it must be understood as the physiological ability that a human being develops in which he or she becomes stronger and highly competent at. When it comes to language learning, there are two types of skills, the receptive ones and the productive ones. The receptive skills are listening and reading and the productive ones are speaking and writing. Listening has to do with receiving sounds through the ears and understanding them without much effort, whether to retain them or to discard them. Reading deals with looking at, interpreting and understanding written words and its meaning. Speaking manages the component for oral speeches, pronunciation and communication through the production of phonemes; and finally writing deals with turning spoken words into graphemes and letters following certain syntactical and morphological criteria and patters. Furthermore, there is something which is considered a property of language and it is grammar; the four previous skills deal with grammar and depend on it to be quietly acquired. Consequently, there is something that joins the four skills, proposing that one skill complements the other and the other way around. 3


Through time, there have been some hypotheses that affirm that there is always one skill which is more important than the others and has to be developed more strongly. That is why; the main aim of this research is to prove that any of the four skills is more important than the other, because each of them complements each other and grammar is something they all have in common; actually, they should be integrated in one isolated process in order to have a great language acquisition.

Essentially,there is a connection between the (LDL) method “lernendurchlehren” learning by teaching method and the development of the language skills, since teachers who teach their own peers, acquire knowledge and experience to learn a language through teaching while they are learning as well. Jean Paul Martin established the previous teaching method and Lev Vygotski proposed a very deep connection between language and cognition affirming that “the one who does the talking, does the learning” which best summarizes the point that students learn by teaching their peers. Here it is where the integration of the skills appears, for a speech to be done there must be audio retention of words, for writing a paragraph there should be a reading as a guide and for reading there should be a mental or oral speech that follows the written part. Therefore, there is a very remarkable relationship between the skills, for one to be developed there must be one previously developed, as for rain there should be clouds, for speaking there must be listening and vice versa. In this way, it is very notable that since previous


FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION centuries teaching a language develops the four skills equally rather than separately and makes a correlation with teaching for learning where the skills are put altogether in order to create an excellent learning process.

In certain Bachelors of Arts that have to do with English, especially in those where English is taught to professors-to-be, there is a model of education that mixes reading, listening, writing and speaking skills for the student to be a completely integral English professor. This very model allows him to show special abilities in one particular skill but knowing how to complement it, owning the other three skills and being able to adjust the language teaching process to any situation that demands one of the four abilities or the four together. A great example of how well this integration process works, Nunan (1989) in his “task-based instruction” tells that “students participate in communicative tasks in English. Tasks are defined as activities that can stand alone as fundamental unites and that require comprehending, producing, manipulating and interacting in authentic language while attention is principally paid to meaning rather than form”(p20). In this quote, it is reaffirmed that to do activities that deal with language processes it is needed the four basic and major skills; comprehending as reading, producing as writing, manipulating as listening and interacting as speaking providing the learner or teacher with the necessary tools to create strategies to improve language to the maximum level, in order to have a proper competence and a great performance when using the language, either for academic purposes or for communicative ones.




Every single topic can be developed according to different points of view; also it can be socialized using certain activities or strategies. Regarding this, the four skills have a great deal to do with because they enclose each strategy there is. As an illustration, when the culture shock topic is discussed there are different processes going on or about to; discussion takes listening and speaking to be done, workshops about opinions and so,require reading, writing and speaking

to be fulfilled. This is

mainly because integrating the four skills at using or developing a topic provides a wider understanding to the student and in this way a training to make better and stronger his abilities for communication. Basically, most of the topics that are developed in the United Kingdom universities are implemented using the integrated skills process and actually integrated skill enhancement is a course taken in almost every Britain College. Inside the thematical/topical integration, there are some established learning strategies instructions that contain the 5 c’s features. (National capital language resource center, sailing the 5 c’s with learning strategies by Anna UhlChamot).Foreign language teachers are encouraged to focus on the national standards for foreign language learning, the 5 c’s. These c’s (communication, cultures, connections, 6

FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION comparisons and communities) provide a version of what students should know and be able to do with the target language. Specifically, students should be able to: •

Communicate in languages other than English (communication)

Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures (cultures)

Connect with other disciplines and acquire information (connections)

Develop insight into the nature of language and culture (comparisons)

Participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world (communities).

All of these features are included in the process of integrating the four language skills because the 5 c’s require activities that combine language skill strategies such as conversations, substitution, paraphrasing, takingnotes, summarizing, knowing about backgrounds and making inferences.Therefore, these features and strategies are quite necessary to develop a good process of learning at integrating the four skills in one component in classrooms and out of them. On the other hand, not only academic matters can increase language skills but also the ones from daily life. People nowadays tend to make such a big deal out of meaningless situations and gossips; when this happens, speaking and listening are widely involved. Sometimes even reading and writing a note can let you realize about others’ mistakes and your own providing you with a gaining of experience and many opportunities not to commit mistakes again. That is why applying knowledge in every 7

FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION situation is very recommendable so as to make mistakes and correct them or in some cases to learn from others while having a simple conversation. There is this standpoint made by Harmer (1983), in which he states that “one of the teachers responsibilities is that the students should practice all the skills. He finds separating skills ridiculous (….) someone who listens to a lecture may take notes and then write a report of the lecture to his friends or colleagues and follow it up by reading an article that the lecturer suggested” (p 47). In this support, Harmer provides that it is very clear that working on any topic or theme separating the skills does not allow or assure a good understanding and development of the topic itself, that is why integrating the four language skills permits to acquire knowledge in an integral way; this to say that for you to know about a topic you need to read about it, to keep it in mind you may write something from it, to discuss it you need to come up with great speaking skills and to listen to what other people think about it you need to listen and understand what you are being told. LANGUAGE SKILLS AND THEIR CORELATIONSHIP. The skills share a relationship and have an aspect in common which is like a wire, in which one skill is connected to the others by another one and so on. The appliance of a method in which the four language skills go together is meant to be a teaching learning technique that takes a piece from every language aspect and mixes it in order to follow a correct process in terms of language acquisition. There is a very basic process that in the middle has another process but complex in different levels; this process is that one In which one starts by receiving the oral message (Listening), 8

FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION communicating the message (speaking), writing the message (writing) and reassuring it is the message we received (reading). Furthermore, it is a fact that activities that include the four language skills awake certain feelings and aspects in people; they become more sensitive to some kind of things, alertness is also awakened and communication competence is enhanced. Reading activities are the ones who need the integration of the four skills the most, because they require a better process of understanding. This can be supported by Grellet (1981) who affirms that “There are few cases in real life when we do not talk or write about what we have read or when we do not relate what we have read to something we might have heard., therefore,It is important to link the different skills through reading activities� (p8). According to the activity to do, emphasis has to be done on the primary or first skill to use in any integrated skill process; the more trained and developed the primary skill is the more successful the activity is.

The relationship between skills is very real, for example in the case of a person with any physical limitation such as blinding, muting or deafness integrating the skills is a great opportunity to make him/herself be understood, since there is a missing skill, he/she needs to have other complements that can help to develop the language either being mute, blind or deaf. Besides, in an authentic learning/teaching process the use of any of the 4 skills is likely to lead to the use of another in a natural and subsequent way. A great support to this reason is given by Hersan (1998). “Nowadays, communication is the major aim for learning a foreign language. In daily life, these skills


FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION are seen in integration, for example, after reading a letter usually an answer to this letter is written. So in the classroom, activities should be taught in integration in order to arrive at an ease in communication” (p22). Essentially, it is imperative to adjust students to an environment in which exploring every aspect of language allows and guarantees a successful learning language process, this is possible by combining the four skills into one single process because as Hersan says “after reading a letter, usually an answer to this letter written” and learning requires a procedure where steps must be taken, that is why learning through the mixing of the training on the four language skills is the best way to develop a great language competence and performance. However, there are some methodologies developed by some teachers in which the main concern is to focus on just one activity to increase just one of the 4 skills, according to the concept the teacher has on which of them is the most important. I cannot properly assert if such an assumption is wrong but is it adequate for students to be strong in one skill and very weak in the others?

Refutations and disagreements are widely shown by some methodology teachers since they think it is better to isolate the skills in order to develop them In a more adequate way. As an illustration of this assumption, I assert to quote Widdowson (1978), who states that “the acquisition of linguistic skills does not seem to guarantee the consequent acquisition of communicative abilities in a language. On the contrary, it would seem to be the case that an overemphasis on drills and exercises for the production and reception of sentences tends to inhibit the development of 10

FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION communicative abilities (…) the abilities include the skills: one cannot acquire the former without acquiring the latter” (p43). Although Widdowson provides his argument with a solid base, his standpoint does not take into account that skill development process cannot be isolated for the basic reason that it is unavoidable to use more than one skill while developing just one; the relationship skills maintain among themselves is really strong and one skill requires the help or production of another skill to be trained in a better way. That is why, isolation in matters of skill activities development is not the most adequate thing to do since integrated-skill production provides a wider range of activities, an assured learned lesson and an enhanced communicative competence.

In the same way, Savignon (1983) affirms that “all components are interrelated in the sense that an increase in one component interacts with the other components to produce an overall increase in the whole construct of communicative competence” (p13). This is to say that skills are joined by a chain has a consequence on the rest of it. For this reason, it is better to work on all the skills at the same time gaining ability in language usage and to assure success when it comes to languages acquisition. Furthermore, this process is adequate and appropriate because it combines many properties from language and train people on how to become skillful at the different levels that language has and the development on production it provides.




In the essay “approach to the integration of skills in teaching English” the answer to a question about what is the ultimate aim of language teaching?, many teachers have a common agreement on saying that it is that one of students being able to understand and practice the language they require; in other words, autonomy in using a language and its manner of production are features that teachers expect students to develop. That is why; integrating the skills provides a sort of income that develops the basis for future outcome in language terms; all of that ultimately becomes a new income or knowledge to gain”. More exactly said in the essay “an approach to the integration of skills in English teaching” by Miguel Angel Almarza (2000),“if we ask, What is the ultimate aim of language teaching?Most teachers would probably agree that one answer is that students should be able to understand and produce the language that they need, in other words, we want them todevelop their autonomy in language use, that is, a kind of freedom in their choiceof language and manner. By integrating skills we are providing a certain input that becomes a basis for further output, which in turn will be new input, and so on. Inthis way the students’ contributions turn out to be part of the process in which language is generated”.


FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION As we have seen above, the development of the language skills is almost a requirement to have a good interaction with people in daily life, not only for academic purposes but also for personal ones. Activities day by day demand a bigger presence of the skill development encouraging in this way people to be very concerned on increasing the level of their skills. In the essay “an approach to the integration of skills in English teaching” by Miguel Angel Almarza, it is said by Almarza(2000) something about that when we combine skills we are thinking about going further than language itself and the way our teaching whether enrich knowledge and life of students or not, and even better in this process is that we do it through a target language and culture. As Almarza just said, the importance of this skill integration lies on how many interesting, academic and useful information we can transmit; also, on how being skillful at critical and analytical thinking is developed and on how learning is really enhanced through this quite important way of achievement. Thereby, it helps a lot while learning a language and it covers every area and aspect that has to be studied in this field.

All in all, the process of integrating the skills more than a proposition to do is a reality that is starting to be applied in classrooms all over the world. It is important to quote again the world of Miguel Angel Almarza in his essay “An approach to the integration of skills in English teaching”. In order to give the reader a better example about the impact integrating the skills has and the role of students in this situation. He says that teachers should be more focused on doing a good process rather than being focused on controlling the language and the ideas the students come up with. Also, the


FOUR SKILLS, ONE ACCURATE COMPETENCE IN 2013 LANGUAGE PRODUCTION students should be shown how to go from being consumers to producers of language which should be their main role in this process. This assumption makes sense because in the language learning process for a production to be done the students have to know what role they take inside this process, so they would be more able to identify their strength and weakness in language skills.

Basically, the integration of skills must be applied, according to all of the reasons that were provided before and with the support required. Instead of being a disadvantage to the students this kind of integration helps them to acquire language as it has to be and to develop every single feature from it with the right usage of language. To sum up, integrating the skills into one single process is better than develop in the skills by isolation because they maintain a common relationship when they are the result of another in the learning process, the thematical/topic activities are developed better through this interactions and it gives an integral formation by covering every area of language.

Taking into account all the data presented in this paper, the next three conclusions were obtained: •

The process of development of the language skills is made in a better way by means of an integration process rather than an isolation process of the language skills.



Techniques and methods on how to integrate the four skills inside the classroom are being used all over the world in order to achieve success in the language acquisition.


Both the students and their teachers strongly agree on teaching and learning using the integrated-skill process since it brings many benefits to all of them and it provides the most necessary and adequate tools for learning a language as it corresponds.




ALMARZA, M.A (2000). An approach to the integration of skills in English teaching. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. GRELLET, F (1981) Developing reading skills, Cambridge: CPU. HARMER (1983) The practice of English language teaching Essex: Longman. HERSAN, Z.M (1998) The integration of reading and writing through pair and group work. A master thesis.Hacethpe University, Ankara. LITTLEJHON, A (1998) Language learning tasks and education in English teaching.London, issue 6.10-11. NUNAN, D(1989) Integrated-skill approach, two forms of integrated-skill instructions, retrieved 11thdecember 2011 from SAVIGNON (1983) Communicative competence: theory and classroom practice. Reading, M.A : Addison-Weasley.



UHL, A (2004) National capital language resource center, sailing the 5 c’s with learning strategies. VYGOTSKY, L (1925) Biography retrieved 05th December 2011 from WIDDOWSON, H.G(1978) Teaching language as communication. Oxford: OUP.


competence in language production  

proyecto presentado para argumentar acerca de las diferentes habilidades que tenemos para aprender y producir el idioma Ingles