The literacy demands of the world require an increasingly complex level of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, listening, conducting research, and viewing. Individuals must be able to communicate with facility in a variety of settings—as individuals and cooperative members of groups. Therefore, the first priority of a communication skills program is language development. It is this use of spoken and written language which sets human beings apart from other forms of life and allows for the expression of the human spirit, the development of ethical responsibility, and the ability to interact with and influence others. Indeed it is the use of language which challenges us to examine and clarify our thinking as we search for the best means to communicate our thoughts and ideas.
An effective communication skills program must be concerned with both process and content—with how students learn and what they learn. Recent research in the area of linguistics and language acquisition challenges old paradigms of learning and invites teachers and students alike to consider reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing as constructive, dynamic integrated processes. Each of these processes is similar and includes preparation, engagement, and response stages. This constructivist perspective promotes an environment where students learn to employ strategies selectively based upon their background, texts (written, oral, or visual), and purposes for activities. Literature and language are the content of an integrated communication skills program. Study of this content should include the structure of language, a social and historical perspective of language, and a respect and appreciation for cultural diversity. Essential to the study of literature is a clear emphasis on the learner as the “maker of meaning” who is able to respond to the beauty and legacy of our language.
A balanced communication skills program should focus on the student as an active participant who has options and, therefore, control over the learning process. Included among these options is the selective and strategic use of monitoring, self-questioning, and focusing techniques. In a similar manner, engaged learners explore options in presentation: films or videotapes in the study of literature and language; audio-tapes in the study of speaking and listening; and word-processors in composing, revising, and publishing compositions. Perhaps this focus on the learner as an active participant is best reflected in Aristotle’s words “people become housebuilders through building houses, harp players through playing harps.” In short, learners become effective users of language through reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. They become thinkers and problem solvers through participating in challenging learning experiences. The competencies and guidelines that follow identify the critical entry level and advanced philosophical framework, knowledge, and methodology required for licensure in language arts/communication skills middle grades.
The curriculum for 6-9 teachers with a concentration in communication skills consists of general studies, a major, professional studies, and 25 semester hours in English and related courses. Courses in the communications area comprise approximately 20% of the students’ four-year program. Because communications is a many-faceted area—including language, composition, literature, and film--and because these facets must be integrated, all English courses provide prospective teachers with opportunities to develop a variety of skills. In all English courses, students are taught to communicate clearly and correctly and to read with understanding and appreciation. Furthermore, they are encouraged in both class discussion and written work to think critically, to argue persuasively, and to come to independent judgements about primary materials. The ability to learn independently is developed through research requirements, large and small, which occur throughout our curriculum.
Goals: The goal of the curriculum is to ensure competency in the teaching of communication skills by developing the following areas: skills in writing and speaking. a knowledge of language, literature, and film. continued interest in language, literature, and film. an appreciation of the human values to be found in literature and film. knowledge and experiences necessary to develop reflective thinking about teaching and learning.
Objectives: The objectives for the curriculum are explicitly stated in the college catalogue. They are to foster the ability to think logically and independently, to develop skills in speaking, writing, and research, to develop an appreciation of and enjoyment of literature and film, to develop an understanding of an appreciation for the English language, and to develop an appreciation of human values.
A. The General Education program requirements of the college.
B. The specific requirements within the General Education program.
C. Major Study Program in an area other than Education
D. A concentration in Communication Skills 25 hours
E. Subject matter methods courses (ENG 764 ad 765) and practicum as stated in Program requirements for Middle Grades Education, Professional Education Requirements.
NOTE: EDU 471, Reading in the Content Area, listed within the Professional Education Requirements is included above.
*If a student has not had African American literature, we strongly recommend it.