The most important skill [Archives:2007/1103/Community]

November 19 2007

By: Adel Hassan Al-Adlany
English language graduate
Amran Faculty
[email protected]

It was a surprise to find my friend Mohammed Al-Moqri knocking on the door of our house one morning, inviting me to go with him to his Faculty of Education in at Sana'a University along with many students from different levels and perhaps from various colleges.

They go there to participate in heated discussions, which could be described as a fight, but not violent, as one might think. Rather, the purpose is to say peaceful things resulting in effective output and offering a glimmer of hope for the future.

That particular day was the last on which every pupil was ordered to stand onstage and be asked a question, which was obligatory to answer as a type of language learning and a way to gain self-confidence.

I was even more surprised when I was forced to stand onstage by the emcee, Abdulqader Al-Jarbani. Regardless, the important thing I like referring to is that there was one question that attracted my attention from among all of those crowded in my head and it has caused me to take up my pen to expand more upon it.

One female student asked me, “In your opinion, what's the most important skill?” I took several breaths to comprehend, contemplate and just to collect my thoughts in order to organize them into a logical and persuasive approach.

I then replied bluntly that I believe the four skills involving language are related to each other, that is, they cannot be separated from one another; however, other more basic and primary skills should be taught and learned before others. In other words, some skills are prior to others because they represent the principal steps in building what's known as “language.”

For example, listening and reading come before speaking and writing because the former are receptive skills, whereas the latter are productive skills greatly dependent upon what has been received. Thus, none of them can give up the others and if this exists, it may be described as a special case due to the fact that these skills are four faces of one cube.

Additionally, if we look carefully at university curriculums, we'll find that reading and listening skills have priority at the basic level, after which come teaching and learning productive skills.

Moreover, reading offers language input, just as listening does. However, because it is fast and silent, an efficient reader is exposed to much more accurate linguistic content in a short space of time than when listening. This is why Allah says in the first verse of the Qur'an, “Iqra,” or “Read,” because reading is the key to science in general, aside from just language.

Indeed, reading and knowledge are the brain's nutrition. Reading enriches the mind with wisdom and dispels much of worries, superstitions and delusional thoughts. I conclude with Francis Bacon's saying, “Reading makes a full man, conferences make a ready man and writing makes an exact man.”

Thus, we can say in short that reading has priority precedence within the educational hierarchy.