The language arts are integrative, interactive ways of communicating that develop through reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. They are the means through which one is able to receive information; think logically and creatively; express ideas; understand and participate meaningfully in spoken, written and nonverbal communications; formulate and answer questions; and search for, organize, evaluate, and apply information. Literacy, then, is a way to acquire knowledge for thinking and communicating; it is more than the acquisition of a specific, predetermined set of skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.
Inherent in the goals and practices of the Office of Language Arts Literacy are four assumptions about literacy learning:
- First, literacy learning is an active process for constructing meaning through the use of prior knowledge and understanding.
- Second, literacy develops in a social context; the use of language almost always relates to others.
- Third, literacy ability increases in complexity if language is used in increasingly complex ways. Literacy learners must engage in texts and conversations that are rich in ideas and increasingly complex in the patterns of language they display.
- Finally, learners achieve mastery of language arts literacy not by adding skills one-by-one to their repertoire, but rather by using and exploring language in its many dimensions.
The language arts are interdependent processes that often merge in an integrated act of rehearsal, reflection, and learning. Through the language arts, students develop the skills they will carry with them into adulthood as contributing members of society: critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.