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language arts

Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts, 3rd ed., edited by Diane Lapp (Routledge, 2010)

Definition:

The subjects taught in elementary and secondary schools that aim at developing students' communication skills.

As defined by the International Reading Association (IRS) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), these subjects include reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and "visually representing."


Observations:

  • "[In the 1950s in the U.S.] the term 'language arts' rose to professional popularity among elementary school teachers . . ., since it suggested the integration of skills and experiences; English, the term still used in the high school, suggested subject matter, and often, subject matter taught in isolation. Today's concern with 'whole language' and integration of reading and writing dates back to such curriculum efforts. . . .

    "[T]he conflict between whole language advocates who stress construction of meaning and skill-oriented specialists who stress decoding continues. Almost certainly the current movement will result in more balanced stress on literature, writing, and oral language, and less emphasis on separate instruction in language skills, spelling, or grammar (Snow, 1997)."
    (James R. Squire, "The History of the Profession." Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts, Routledge, 2003)


  • "One familiar way to link the language arts . . . is to pair them by medium: reading and writing involve written language, listening and speaking involve spoken communication, and viewing and visually representing involve visual language.

    "There are many other important interconnections among the English language arts, as well. Learners’ repertoires of words, images, and concepts grow as they read, listen, and view; new words, images, and concepts then become part of their written, spoken, and visual language systems."
    (Standards for the English Language Arts, IRA/NCTE, 1996)
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