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The Integrated Nature of English Language Arts

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

School is divided into clear and separate subjects, right? Wrong! This lesson discusses how the skills learned in an English Language Arts classroom are essential in any other course and throughout life.

Integrated English Language Arts

In a world where information is accessible at the click of a mouse, the notion of learning various disciplines separately is very outdated. The skills and content of one area of learning has a major impact on all others. This is especially apparent in the skills needed for English Language Arts (ELA), including reading, writing, listening, speaking, and critical thinking.

ELA is often described as an integrated subject, which means there are various elements that link with each other and with other subjects. Every skill learned in ELA is related to the others. In addition, you need those same skills in order to learn in any other subject area. This lesson goes into further detail of how ELA skills are integrated, and how they can foster lifelong learning.

Reading and Writing

This first pair of skills is probably the most obviously connected. Reading skills are those that allow one to gather meaning from a text. Writing skills are those that express thoughts and ideas in the form of the written word.

Comprehension is a huge factor for both of these types of skills. You can read all day long, but if you can't understand the meaning of the words, you are wasting your time. Reading is also connected to writing, so the more you read the better writer you will become. While you read, you are subconsciously processing all the techniques and styles of the author. When you go to write, you will naturally mimic the techniques and styles that you liked or noticed. In this way, your writing uses your developing reading skills in order to also develop.

Reading and writing are also imperative to other subject areas. Anytime your history teacher, or science teacher, or business teacher requires you to read from the textbook and write a response, you are using reading and writing skills. However, integration goes far beyond simply that. Imagine the smartest math-minded person you know. Now imagine that person with terrible reading skills. Will he be able to read the textbook and learn a new concept on his own? Maybe, maybe not. Overall, reading and writing are a set of skills that will be used constantly and will continue to improve throughout one's life.

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening are also two closely linked ELA skills. Speaking skills are those necessary to express one's thoughts verbally. Listening skills allow you to comprehend the verbal expressions of others.

We all learn to speak by listening to those around us. One is needed for the other to develop. Thus, speaking and listening are just as closely related as reading and writing. If a student is a great listener, he or she will note the styles and techniques of other speakers and imitate them in his or her own speech.

Speaking and listening are also related to reading and writing. As you develop into a strong reader and writer, your speaking skills will naturally improve. Our society is heavily dependent on verbal communication, so it is unlikely to develop excellent reading and writing behaviors without also being able to express them verbally. Also, writing down your thoughts will naturally help you to express them verbally. The opposite is true, as well; verbally saying your thoughts can help you to organize them in order to write them down.

Finally, speaking and listening cross all learning disciplines. Science presentations, history speeches and math lectures all require speaking and listening skills. Communication is key in our society in general, so lacking these skills puts you at a huge disadvantage.

Lifelong Learning

Beyond the classroom you will use another main ELA skill: critical thinking. This involves the higher level thinking skills, like the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate. Analyzing calls for examining material and breaking down the information, while synthesizing includes putting information together, and evaluation is forming a judgement.

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