Reading, writing, speaking and listening – the four foundational skills of language learning.
What are the Four Basic Languages Skills?
These are the cornerstones of learning a language.
There’s a very obvious place to start for those wishing to improve their reading skills: books! Books not only help you learn a new language. They’re also a way to discover the culture behind the language.
For many language learners, writing is the first time they actively try to produce language, rather than consume the language. And even though I advocate speaking from day one, I see writing as an important part of this process. I always recommend preparing a script before your first conversation.
To have a conversation with someone it’s useful if you can understand what they’re saying.I think listening is the hardest skill for language learners. I’m not just speaking from my own experience here, but also from what other language learners have told me.
One of the reasons for this is that it’s easy to fall into the pattern of passive learning. People seem to think that you can just watch a foreign film, or listen to some music and you’ll instantly be on your way towards mastering that language. They then get frustrated when they find they’re actually making little to no progress.
This is because you can’t just let the words flow in and out of your ears – your brain is part of the process too. You need to study what you’re listening to.
There are endless listening resources available – audiobooks, music, movies and podcasts. What we’re going to examine is how best to make these work for you… without falling into the trap of passive listening.
Speaking: the skill of doom! Most language learners find speaking their new language a daunting prospect. I know people who’ve been studying for years and still haven’t had a conversation in their target language.