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Language Competencies Essential for Coping in Our Society


by Walter T. Petty, Dorothy C. Petty, Anabel P. Newman & Eloise M. Skeen 1977

Just what language abilities does an individual need? Are there different levels of language competency an individual needs for various tasks and at different stages of maturity? Are the competencies needed by the elementary school child different from those of the high school student? Most importantly, what are the competencies needed by the individual who is no longer a student in the school-attending sense? Can these competencies be described? Are some more essential than others? A former Oregon state superintendent put the issue bluntly and in context with these questions: "What competencies are required for America's young people to survive during the last quarter of this century? What survival skills are needed to cope successfully with life as a citizen, wage earner, consumer, and learner?" The purpose of this chapter is to respond to these questions, to attempt to list and define the language competencies essential for coping in our society. Of necessity, these are broadly stated, since they must encompass the needs of both children and adults in a wide range of societal and economic settings and with a wide range of individual needs and abilities. It is hoped that they will serve as bases for further examination of programs and objectives, and possibly as criteria against which both teaching decisions and student achievement may be measured. It is the task of the reader to make thoughtful application of the statement of competencies to the specific needs of a given set of learners.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 76, No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 78 Number 5, 1977, p. 66-95
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18997, Date Accessed: 4/28/2017 8:06:57 AM

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About the Author
  • Walter Petty
    SUNY Buffalo
    E-mail Author
    WALTER T. PETTY is an interim dean at the Graduate School of Education at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
  • Dorothy Petty
    Buffalo, NY
    E-mail Author
    DOROTHY C. PETTY is an educational consultant in Buffalo, New York.
  • Anabel Newman
    Indiana University
    E-mail Author
    ANABEL P. NEWMAN is the Assistant Dean for Administration and Director of the Reading Practicum Center at Indiana University.
  • Eloise Skeen
    SUNY Buffalo
    E-mail Author
    ELOISE M. SKEEN is an Assistant Professor of Education at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
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