The application of Knowledge, Meaning and Communication Competency to the Macro Skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing


Any successful learning process must involve the four types of learning. These include listening, speaking, reading and writing (Richard & Renandya, 2000, p. 251). The learning of a second language is no exception, as it must involve these processes too. Listening and reading, form some of the most important components of the learning process. Additionally, it is important to note that reading and writing gives people a means of preserving language. On the other hand, listening and speaking are used as a means of communication as opposed to preservation. Listening and speaking aids people to understand each other while reading and writing build on this understanding. The learning process is based on the three principles of meaning, knowledge and communication competency. A meaning based learning process encompasses making sense out of a certain text by relying on the visual cues and the non-visual information contained in the text.

The non-visual information depends on the prior knowledge that the reader brings into the reading process and it is more fundamental for learning as compared to the actual information contained in the text. Knowledge is the expertise or familiarity gained from prior experience. Communication competency encompasses person’s ability to communicate with others in terms of coherence, clarity, accuracy, effectiveness, comprehensibility, appropriateness and expertise (Wallace, 2001, p 16). This essay focuses on a detailed explanation of how these macro-skills work and how they are related to the application of the three principles namely, meaning, form-based instruction knowledge and communication competency. Meaning, form-based instruction knowledge and communication competence enhance the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills by transforming the hidden sense of the language into a more significant form.


Listening is the process of receiving what others say and is complemented by speaking. The first step of listening is hearing what the other person is saying. This involves listening attentively, which is also referred to as active listening (Helgesen, 2004, p. 56). In the learning process, listening is an important aspect as it is the first step of learning. Listening is a selective process as a person only hears that which he wants to hear. The second step in listening is understanding. When a person listens attentively, they can easily decipher the meaning of whatever they hear (Nunan, 1995, p. 89). Listening and speaking are related concepts because if one cannot understand what they hear, they cannot speak.

In relation to the principles, listening in a second language class involves a top-down process. This is whereby a person hears something, puts it into a certain context and derives meaning from it (Duzer, 1997, p. 67). This is where the schema developing strategy comes into play. Teachers build schema in order to give students some background knowledge through which to place things into context. Teachers use the schema development strategy to help students hear and understand what they listen to during the teaching process (Rost, 2002, p. 43). Thirdly, listening is an important aspect in the acquisition of communication competence. In order to be fully competent in a foreign language, a person must focus on effective listening. This can be identified as active or reflective listening in which a person is genuinely interested in the meaning of the message that is passed to them by the other person.

It involves paraphrasing of what is understood from the message and reflecting it back to the sender of the message for verification. To teach this macro skill, the teacher can develop a pre-listening activity in which the students are required to talk about their own experiences, before they listen to an available video that should aid them to answer the activity’s questions. The activity provided should depend on the age level of the students. For instance, for the beginner, the activity should contain putting the pictures in order. This requires the student to listen carefully and follow the sequence of the pictures. As this is a learning process, they should be allowed to listen all over again. For the intermediate level, the activity should involve the application of the three questions. Under the first question, students should listen and choose a right answer, the second question should encompass matching the question to the answer, while the last question should involve asking the student to imagine that they are going camping, so that they can come up with what they will need and why?


            Speaking is the process through which more than one person derives meaning from words using verbal symbols (Gardner, 1985, p. 86). Although indirectly, speaking is an integral part of a second language acquisition. It generally involves imitating the teacher or an audio recording of the words that one is learning. Although, speaking is an integration of the listening and understanding skills, a person who does not hear and understand a certain language cannot speak it, the same person can attempt to speak the language by reading it aloud.

Speaking is an indirect component of the second language learning process. As opposed to listening, which is fundamental, speaking only plays a supporting role in learning a second language. First, in order to derive meaning from words, it is not necessary for a person to be able to speak. Nonetheless, second language teachers can use the principle of prior knowledge to help students learn faster. By building schema, teachers can enhance student’s ability to speak as they relate each word to something that they already know (Howatt & Dakin, 1974, 100). Speaking is also essential in achieving communication competence as one can gauge a person’s language level from speech. Additionally, the teacher utilizes speaking to provide motivation, knowledge and skill to the student as they these are the three fundamental components of communication competence. Essentially speaking aids in the formation of the impression that the communicative behaviour of the other person is appropriate. In this way, the speaking skills of the person learning are sharpened as they learn from the communication behaviour of the teacher. .

Form-focussed instruction is a practice utilized by language teachers to help students understand structural and technical aspects of language. This may involve sentence structure, grammar and spelling. When used in learning speech, it becomes vital for the acquisition of skills required for learning a foreign language. Form focused instruction is largely based on drill and practice which encompasses the application of repetitive practice to acquire the knowledge required for learning a foreign language. Skilled teachers can play a vital to provide form focused instruction through drill and practice in a challenging, smooth and interesting manner so that students can get the exact idea and meaning of what they are saying. When the students acquire meaning and knowledge the learning process will be accelerated, culminating into faster learning of a foreign language. Form focused instruction pays special attention on pronunciation, speaking, grammar and vocabulary as well as meaning-focused instruction. This is inclusive of opportunities to produce meaningful spoken messages with real communicative purposes.

On the other hand, developing the learner’s knowledge of language skills by focusing on meaning-focused speaking activity follows some form-focused instruction. This can be done through encouraging students to learn new vocabulary in full sentences to give meaning to the words in an easier and understandable manner. In this way, when the students are accorded with a reading and speaking activity, the meaning and knowledge they acquired prior to the activity can aid them to understand what is required out of them by the new activity. The Teacher should introduce a new topic by supplying the sentence structure while encouraging the students to pronounce the vocabulary. The teacher requesting the students to brainstorm on a certain topic can do this. The vocabulary acquired is then written down on the boards and all the students are requested to choose a vocabulary and explain why they need it. The teacher can vary the vocabulary through the employment of vocabulary substitution. In this way, the students will acquire the meaning and knowledge required for communication competence building.


            Reading is also another important aspect of learning a second language. Through reading, teachers can gauge a student’s progress in learning a language. One of the most important aspects of reading as a macro-skill is that it requires specific instructions and conscious effort (Richard & Renandya, 2000, p.251). A teacher has to ensure that learners understand the relationship between letters and sounds. This is because there are some letters that appear on the written text but are not sounded during speech. For example, the word ‘debt’ is pronounced without the letter ‘b’ while it appears in written text. This assists them to acquire the comprehensive understanding of the meanings attached to different written and spoken words. Teachers can use the phonic approach to teach students the connection between written and spoken language.

In the application of principle, teachers should encourage reading for meaning. Form should only come as a sub-ordinate component after meaning (Hedge, 2002, p. 112). Students should be encouraged to read foreign language aloud as it helps them build their understanding of the language. Additionally, extensive reading helps students to build vocabulary and gain general knowledge. Reading also helps students gain communication competence as they become more conversant with the language.

Preschool children learn reading by associating the words with pictures. Teachers can use different methods of encouraging reading. For instance, they can challenge the child to find a new word every day. Children in kindergarten enjoy games. The teacher can introduce such word games as spelling out different simple words to get a prize. In terms of letter games, the teacher can teach the students to memorize A to stand for apple. This increases the interest of the children in the learning process. Young children are fond of making up stories. They can be taught through stories. The teacher can start a story and encourage the student to continue the story without repeating. This enhances the acquisition of communication competency, as the students have to listen to each other to ensure that their utterances are not repetitive. Addition of new words brings out the meaning in the learning process. children are fond of word games hence the teacher can introduce such simple tongue twisters as she sells sea shells on a sea shore for the knowledge acquisition process.


Writing is fundamental for learning a foreign language. Writing helps learners to express their ideas in a different form other than speaking. It also helps enhance their thought organization skills. Writing plays an important role in enhancing communication competence, as the expression of ideas through writing is a form of communication.

The process of writing involves four steps including planning, drafting, editing, and revising (Richard & Renandya, 2000, p. 304). The first step is planning which involves coming up with an outline of ideas that a person wants to incorporate in their writing. Drafting involves actual writing where a person makes a rough sketch of what the actual essay will look like. Editing is the next step and involves writing the final draft while correcting mistakes from the rough draft. The last step is revising where a person reads the whole paper again to see if there are any mistakes. A second language learner should be encouraged to follow this process of writing, as it is more effective. Teachers should always build students schema before they start writing to give them an idea of what they should do. Communicative competence is encouraged by effective writing.

Interest is very fundamental for the learning process. For children to acquire meaning, knowledge and communication competency, they can be involved in tracing of letters activities. After the tracing out, the students are encouraged to read aloud what they have traced out. This enables them to learn through both visual and non-visual information acquired during the learning process. Those at the intermediate level can start creating flash cards based on the lessons they have learnt during the week. They can then challenge each other with the supervision of the teacher.


In summary, the four macro-skills discussed above are essential parts of the second language learning process. Listening, which includes hearing and understanding, is the most fundamental as one cannot learn without listening (Richards, 2006, p. 34). Speaking, reading and writing also play an important role in enhancing communication competence. As seen above, teachers can use the three principles of meaning and form based instructions, knowledge and communication competency to enhance the language learning process





Lesson Plan

Subject                                   :   English

Time Line                               :   45 minutes

Level of Proficiency              :   beginner -Intermediate

Age                                         :   6– 10 years

Topic                                      :  Going Camping

Language Skills                            :  speaking and listening


  1. Learning of different words using such materials as a video, pictures, story hat and torch
  2. Acquiring both visual and non visual information from a book, video and other sources with the aim of acquiring superior learning skills
  3. Learning the events involved in a camping experience and the preparations to be incorporated before venturing into the camping expedition.


Teacher preparation: Work sheets, pictures, video, individual working or working in a pair. The video develops the listening skills of the students as they are supposed to listen to the video and then answer questions based on what they have heard. Working individually can encompass writing assignment such that the students are to copy from a material that the teacher has provided and after writing down the words, they are supposed to pronounce them to horn both their writing and reading skills. The pictures of different animals and items to be learnt are presented as a form of visual information for the acquisition of meaning, which is important for speaking, writing and reading skills. The work sheets contain questions, which the students will answer individually or in pairs to help evaluate what they have learnt.




The video encompasses one recorded with other students who have passed through the same class. The students can be able to learn better through resources that have been utilized by their fellow students. A picture book provides the required pictures for learning. The worksheets contain evaluation questions for the students.

Background knowledge

In Libya culture schools are usually have trips every years as well as some families do. Therefore, I chose online resource to introduce all material that they need to “Go Camping” in English

Main Expressions

1-      New vocabulary

2-      Developing the Learner’s Knowledge (building the schema) of Language Skills by focusing on meaning-based speaking activity followed by some form-focused instruction.  

















I. INTRODUCTION (10 Minutes)


1-Develop a brainstorming activity for students to talk about their own experiences.


  • Students perform a  vocabulary   brainstorming  activity about the Topic (Go camping )
  • Students will then use the vocabularies to form sentences related to the topic.






  • Teacher Greets the student, writes the Topic on the board and date.


  • She will introduce the Topic by asking if they have gone for Camping & What, they need to Go Camping.


1-       Students will build up their schema about topic.

2-       Students will be able to form full sentences with diverse meanings in accordance to their understanding level.

3-       Students will replace the complex sentence structures with simpler ones and be able to explain the reasons why they need it





After the lesson, students will be able to name all the materials needed when going for Camping. They will have gained knowledge.  

Part A: 1- students will work as a pair to identify the items that the teacher came to class with and their purpose in terms of a camp

2-Student will be shown the structure of sentences and such items as a torch, hat which the teacher came with, while the teacher says them aloud. Then she will ask the students to repeat it once and then to chose one item from the list provided and explain the need for the item. For example “A torch is important during camping because we need light when it gets dark”

Part B:

  1. The teacher should gather the children and set up the video which includes the new vocabulary the students are required to learn
  2. After listening to the video for a couple of times the students are required to answer different questions based on what has been learnt from the video.
  3. The above exercise will be done individually. The children will then be paired so that they can study the items that the teacher brought to class. They will write them down in the worksheets provided stand up in front of the class, and read out aloud what they have learnt and what they have written down. It helps the students not to only focus on the virtual information contained in their work but also on the non-visual information they acquired from prior knowledge and meaning.
  4. after that the students will be provided with the time to discuss in pairs on what they have learnt so that they can be able to internalize the words and phrases learnt
  1. Speaking involves giving feedback on what the other students have read out. In this case, the students have to listen to each other and understand before putting their diverse points across.

1)       Students are able to effectively listen to the short description, which is given in the video.


(2) Students are able to understand the meaning of words and phrase shown in the video.

(3) Students are able to answer the questions asked in relation to the video related to the video by circling the right picture. Additionally, through speaking to each other and to the class, their speaking skills will be enhanced.









Student will listen again to the video and answer the activity by circling the right sequences order.
  1. Students will learn to pronounce such words as hospital, light  and will be able to listen to others before they can present their points.
  2. Students will listen to the video, write down what they learnt, read it aloud and finally provided feedback on the presentations of the other students through speaking
  3. As a final activity, students will fill worksheets given by the teacher, which will analyse their achievements for the day.  The worksheets will contain questions based on all the words learnt during this lesson. For example, the teacher will write some sentences and ask the students to identify any wrong spellings and wrong structure.


 Learner’s Knowledge of language skills of listening, reading writing and speaking is achieved through the application of meaning, form-based instruction, and knowledge and communication competency.


Through the activities given, learners are expected to gain knowledge through deriving meaning from the words. Through speaking while working in pairs and presenting their ideas in class, students will develop communication competence.





Evaluation of this lesson plan takes place during the lesson and is based from the kind of response that students give after the learning process is complete. Additionally, the worksheets will help the teacher evaluate if the students have developed their listening, speaking and writing skills during this lesson.











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Nunan, D. (1995). Listening in language learning. Methodology in Language Teaching, an Anthology of Current Practice. Edited by Richards and Renandya (2002). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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Richards, J. (2006). Teaching listening: From comprehension to acquisition. Singapore: OUP

Rost, M. (2002). Teaching and researching listening. London, UK: Longman.

Wallace, C. (2001). Reading. In R. carter and D. Nunan (Eds), The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 21-27.




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