Language Arts Skills: 3 Life Tools for the Information Age

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by… (Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken)

Click Here To Get A Free Report On 16 Proven Ways To Motivate Your Child To Do Better In School...

Plus, receive a "Live Demonstration Inside Our Unique 1 On 1 Online Classroom."
Superior training in Language Arts skills has become the road less traveled.

Blank expressions of parents meet my response to their question about my occupation. I'm a professional online Language Arts tutor, "Why would anyone need a Language Arts tutor? Isn't math and science the hard stuff?"

This response is indicative of a growing trend over the last decade in which the demand for superior language skills has increased due to the phenomenal growth of the internet. At the same time, disdain for literature, writing, and rhetorical training has grown with it replaced by an insatiable appetite for electronic entertainment. Teen readers are declining, and they are chatting, texting, surfing, and playing video games instead.

So where do students stand in the midst of this? Many of them need additional guidance to develop the three essential skills of reading, writing, and speaking, the mastery of which converts school assignments into life tools.

The foundation of these Language Arts life tools is literature. But the plot to murder the emperor in Julius Caesar seems far removed from the teen that is busy with sports now. And who sees the relevance of the valiant hero, Beowulf, when our students are driven by the appetite for entertainment? What's the big idea with all the literature that can be included in a program?

The answer lies both in the value of history and the thinking that results from reading literature classics. I have become convinced that we cannot forget the great writers of the past, and their influence in world culture over the centuries. They each tell a slice of the story of the world, and help us understand our world today.

In addition, literature causes us to expand our vocabularies, which gives us greater abilities to communicate our valuable thoughts and ideas to the world around us. This will give our students a great advantage over those who have merely memorized vocabulary definitions. Vocabulary is explored in the context of intriguing story lines, and through characters that are not very much different from us.

These stories also produce critical thinking skills as students learn to analyze a story for its main theme, characters, plot, and purpose. The genius writing of the past is a rich soil for planting the seeds of critical thinking, vocabulary expansion, and understanding of the world.

Students may find that they can think about their own experiences in a new light. A skilled teacher or tutor should combine literature reading with reflective writing, encouraging the student to think about herself also. What is the theme of life? How do I fit as a character in the story of the world? What will be the story of my life?

A second life tool offered by the improvement of Language Arts skills is writing. Literature is directly linked to writing. Linguistic theory shows that the language we put into our minds is the language we produce. The expert and varied writing styles of classical writers provide the constant example of writing technique. The more a student reads the more embedded language patterns become in the brain. The process of writing thoughts becomes easier because the reader has viewed language patterns continually. Instead, students today are busy filling their minds with truncated chat-speak and minimal quality literature. The student who does not read a wide variety of writing will find that he or she is hindered in writing effectively.

Anyone who jumps online today sees that the written word now rules the world. Information is accessible to us in amounts never known before, and nearly all of it is written. The student will find in the future that the world of the internet provides a seemingly unlimited possibility for communication, business, and the advancement of worthy causes.

However, a student who cannot write effectively will find that he or she has a quiet voice or a silent voice in the information age. Those who can think critically, understand devices of poetry, research, form an argument, support their ideas, communicate creatively, and reach others will find a world of open possibilities.

A third life tool offered by the improvement of Language Arts skills is rhetorical training, or public speaking. Effective speaking is something that is merely a side note in many public school curricula. Students produce a few canned speeches and suffer through the awkward moments of their speeches and peer feedback. Most of them will never learn how to speak comfortably in front of others, and this will also muffle the power of their contribution as they work toward their goals. The working world is looking for those who can communicate clearly and effectively with confidence, and those who believe the content of their message.

So what does this mean for parents who want to give their child an advantage in these areas? Searching for additional resources and trying to implement more reading, writing, and speaking is one way, but many parents will find this overwhelming and difficult.

A professional online tutor can provide the answer to this, providing the resources and one-to-one time the student needs to truly excel in language arts skills. While many tutoring companies can provide help with homework assignments so that students can just "make it" past a certain point, a personal tutor who is available consistently for a student will transform "making it" into getting it, taking hold of skills, and converting them into tools for their lives. A tutor should not simply be concerned with passing the next test or “making the grade,” but helping the parent plan for the long term mastery of skills that fit a student's goals.

Your student will soon come home and pull out that copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Scarlet Letter, and you may be at a loss to help them wade through the complexity of these great classics. You and your child will be faced with the choice in those studies.

I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Together, let us take that road less traveled by, the one that consists of the mastery of language arts skills including literature reading, writing and rhetorical training. That will make all the difference.

Related Articles