The importance of integrating skills in the teaching of english as a foreign language
This article has been made as a guide for teachers of English as a foreign language to develop the students´ abilities in the language. It is the application of an integrating approach for the development of communicative skills in the classroom, in which the four skills in the acquisition of knowledge of a foreign language can be taught in a coherent way, and practiced together, with a distinction of the importance of one upon the other
One image for teaching English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) is that of a tapestry. The tapestry is woven from many strands, such as the characteristics of the teacher, the learner, the setting, and the relevant languages (i.e., English and the native languages of the learners and the teacher). For the instructional loom to produce a large, strong, beautiful, colorful tapestry, all of these strands must be interwoven in positive ways. For example, the instructor's teaching style must address the learning style of the learner, the learner must be motivated, and the setting must provide resources and values that strongly support the teaching of the language. However, if the strands are not woven together effectively, the instructional loom is likely to produce something small, weak, ragged, and pale--not recognizable as a tapestry at all.
In addition to the four strands mentioned above--teacher, learner, setting, and relevant languages--other important strands exist in the tapestry. In a practical sense, one of the most crucial of these strands consists of the four primary skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. This strand also includes associated or related skills such as knowledge of vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, syntax, meaning, and usage. The skill strand of the tapestry leads to optimal ESL/EFL communication when the skills are interwoven during instruction. This is known as the integrated-skill approach.
If this weaving together does not occur, the strand consists merely of discrete, segregated skills--parallel threads that do not touch, support, or interact with each other. This is sometimes known as the segregated-skill approach. Another title for this mode of instruction is the language-based approach, because the language itself is the focus of instruction (language for language's sake). In this approach, the emphasis is not on learning for authentic communication.
By examining segregated-skill instruction, we can see the advantages of integrating the skills and move toward improving teaching for English language learners.
In the segregated-skill approach, the mastery of discrete language skills such as reading and speaking is seen as the key to successful learning, and language learning is typically separate from content learning (Mohan, 1986). This is contrary to the integrated way that people use language skills in normal communication, and it clashes with the direction in which language teaching experts have been moving in recent years.