A s stated in Chapter 1, the six components of language arts are reading, writ-ing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing. Reading, listening, and viewing are the receptive components of the language arts; writing, speaking, and visually representing are the expressive components. With the receptive components, one must be able to decode the message of the sender; with the expressive components, one must be able to clearly communicate to a known and sometimes unknown audience. Before 1996, developing students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills was emphasized; however, since the release of the Standards for the English Language Arts in 1996 by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA), viewing and visually representing have been added to that list. The Standards for English Language Arts stress the importance of interpreting and creating non-print, visual texts:

Being literate in contemporary society means being active, critical, and creative users not only of print and spoken language but also of the visual language of images, film and television, commercial and political advertising, photography, and more. Teaching students how to interpret and create visual texts such as illustrations, charts, graphs, electronic displays, photographs, film and video is another essential component of the English language arts curriculum. Visual communication is part of the fabric of contemporary life. (International Reading Association & National Council of Teachers of English, 1996, p. 5)

The NCTE and the IRA also understand that the demands of our social, cultural, and economic environments require students to be skilled in all representation modes in order to thrive in today’s global society. Literacy no longer refers only to encoding and decoding traditional texts; it also refers to encoding and decoding digital text, the visual arts, music, dance, and drama. Therefore, students must have experience in constructing and translating meaning across the visual and performing arts so they are literate and become lifelong learners in all aspects of the language arts.