Language arts (also known as English language arts or ELA) is the study and improvement of the arts of language. Traditionally, the primary divisions in language arts are literature and language, where language in this case refers to both linguistics, and specific languages. Language arts instruction typically consists of a combination of reading, writing (composition), speaking, and listening. In schools, language arts is taught alongside science, mathematics, and social studies.
Reading, by definition, is the ability and knowledge of a language that allows comprehension by grasping the meaning of written or printed characters, words, or sentences. Reading involves a wide variety of print and non-print texts that helps a reader gain an understanding of the material that is being read. Reading of texts that are often included in educational curriculum include fiction, nonfiction, classic, and also contemporary works. Reading goes beyond calling words to understanding the information presented in a written or a visual context.
Composition is defined as the combination of distinct parts or elements to form a whole and the manner in which these elements are combined or related. The following are examples of composing in language arts:
- The art or act of composing a literary work (i.e. novels, speeches, poems)
- A short essay, especially one written as an academic exercise. An essay is a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative. There are many types of short essays, including:
- Five-paragraph essay
- Argumentative essay
- Cause and effect essay
- Comparative essay
Compositions may also include:
- Narrative essays
- Expository essays
- Persuasive essays
- Technical writing essays
- Research essays
Oration and live delivery are often key components of language arts programs. This can include through dramatic interpretation, speeches, oral interpretation of poetry, and the like. Speaking is a valuable way to enhance concepts of persuasion, and develop linguistic skills.
Listening can be considered the basis for development of speaking, reading, and writing skills. It is the act of understanding spoken language, and is often paired with speaking.
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