chapter  9
Developing receptive language skills—listening and reading
ByBob Powell
Pages 24

The term ‘receptive language skills’ is one that is commonly used in the literature on language-teaching methods but it is open to various interpretations. The adjective ‘receptive’ is associated with receiving, with being in a position of one who accepts what is given, not therefore automatically an active participant in the proceedings. Indeed, there have been times when listening and reading have been labelled as ‘passive skills’ in stark contrast to the ‘active skills’ of speaking and writing. This unfortunate categorisation has brought with it the risk of assuming that by looking after the active skills, the passive skills will somehow develop by themselves. However, a quick glance at an English dictionary will remind us-if we needed to be reminded-that the word ‘receptive’ conveys also the notions of attentiveness, concentration and the ability or speed with which one can receive impressions or ideas and develop them. In the context of foreign language teaching and learning, it is this second set of meanings with which this chapter is concerned.