Basic Skills in Language Development

by 高莫娜 Mona
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Our Asian countries are obsessed with English language; partially the blame is on the British colonization who introduced their language to every country they visited. I have witnessed its visible traces in Indo-Pak territory and Hong Kong.

Ironically, all these countries are obviously the second speaker of English language. There is a continuous struggle among parents in letting their kids master the English language and brutally mitigate the importance of their own mother tongue. 

The schools have also join in hands to deliver what the parents expect from them, mastering the English language. I have gone through hundreds of schools’ curriculum and the content to be taught. Initially, when I started to learn about teaching contents of different schools, I used to get surprised from the hefty written work and heavy oral syllabus. Gradually it occurred to me that it is a norm of every local or subsidized school. ESF schools were doing better in this area.

Undoubtedly, English is an international language and its importance cannot be marginalized. But to teach any language we need to follow the proper protocol. It is globally recognized that there are four basic skills to be followed to teach any language and those skills are Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. These skills have to be followed in the same typed format. So the skill which should be taught in the end is usually the first emphasized skill in our schools. My heart aches when three years old holds a pencil to write alphabets. 

Listening is the first step towards mastering any language, writing is the last. In playgroups the kids are expected to hold pencil properly and start to write perfectly and also able to speak English fluently by the end of the year. How a child can speak that language when her listening and speaking skills are not sharpened? 

To start building up the language, recognition of letter sounds is essential.  Phonics is a vital aspect towards becoming proficient readers as fluent readers can be fluent speakers. Letter sounds should be followed by two-letter blend, followed by proper intro of diagraphs, diphthongs and gradually moving towards three-letter blend. When the students are able enough to blend three letters, any beginner reader should be introduced to develop their reading skills. 

Parallel to this, children should be introduced to storytelling. The parent should start telling them bedtime stories; ask those questions about the content. At school the teacher should properly introduce story everyday with the details of its author, illustrator and publisher. She can ask kids to guess about the story, encourage them to answer in any language they feel comfortable in and translate their answers into English so they can understand. 

Children’s fine motor skills develop gradually, so writing is hard for them at the age of three or four. That is why it is not desired for the educators to push their kids towards writing at an early stage. Once the skills are developed, they learn to write in no matter of time.

All children develop in their own way; our basic purpose is to groom them in a happy and safe environment. They are born with innate abilities which will glow in their correct time; forcing them to do things beforehand will only lead to child’s unhappiness and undesirable behavior.

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