Language Modes

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Language arts is the term typically used by educators to describe the curriculum area that includes four modes of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Language arts teaching constitutes a particularly important area in teacher education, since listening, speaking, reading, and writing permeate the curriculum; they are essential to learning and to the demonstration of learning in every content area. Teachers are charged with guiding students toward proficiency in these four language modes, which can be compared and contrasted in several ways. Listening and speaking involve oral language and are often referred to as primary modes since they are acquired naturally in home and community environments before children come to school. Reading and writing, the written language modes, are acquired differently. Although children from literate environments often come to school with considerable knowledge about printed language, reading and writing are widely considered to be the school's responsibility and are formally taught.
A different way of grouping the language modes is according to the processing involved in their use. Speaking and writing require constructing messages and conveying them to others through language. Thus they are "expressive" modes. Listening and reading, on the other hand, are more "receptive" modes; they involve constructing meaning from messages that come from others' language. (For those who are deaf, visual and spatial language modes–watching and signing–replace oral language modes.)
When one considers how children learn and use language, however, all of these divisions become somewhat artificial. Whatever we label them, all modes involve communication and construction of meaning. In effective language arts teaching, several modes are usually used in each activity or set of related activities. For example, students in literature groups may read literature, discuss it, and write about it in response journals. In 1976 Walter Loban

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