What are the "4 English skills"?


As a result of the emphasis on "reading" and "writing" in English education in Japan, we have created a situation where "even if you can read English, you cannot speak or listen". However, in recent years, it is changing to learning that improves not only "reading" and "writing" but also "4 skills" in a well-balanced manner. Naturally, it is important for working people to learn English with "4 skills" in mind.

In this article, I will explain the four skills of English and the importance of the four skills that are indispensable for learning English. We will also explain the evaluation criteria for the four skills, so let's check your current level of English.

What is "4 skills and 5 areas" in English?

As is well known, the four skills of English are "reading," "writing," "listening," and "speaking," but "speaking" is divided into two areas and is called "4 skills and 5 areas." Sometimes. Many people may understand the four skills, but here's a quick overview.

4 Skill 1: reading

Reading ability is not just about reading English, it is a skill to read and understand English faster and more accurately.

In order to improve reading ability, it is necessary to build an "English brain" that reads and understands English sentences as they are, without translating English words into Japanese one by one. The English brain is to build an "English circuit" in the brain that understands English without going through the mother tongue (Japanese). It is important not only for reading, but also for improving the four skills in a well-balanced manner.

4 Skill 2: writing

Writing ability is a skill that shows it by writing English by outputting English together with "speaking" which is one of the four skills.

It includes vocabulary, spelling, grammar, writing skills, as well as paragraph structure rules.

4 Skill 3: listening

Listening skills are skills to listen to and understand English sentences correctly.

It is necessary to instantly and correctly connect the English sentences that are heard one after another with Japanese and understand them. If you become an intermediate / advanced English speaker, you will be able to understand English sentences as they are, without going through Japanese.

4 Skill 4: speaking

Speaking ability is divided into a two-way "area of communication" that responds instantly to the other party's English and an "area of expressing one's thoughts" that is necessary for presentations.

The reason that speaking is divided into two areas is that communication and presentation have different knowledge and skills.

Why is "4 English skills" important?

We will look at the background to the emphasis on "4 skills" in learning English and the reasons why 4 skills are important for learning English.

From "reading" and "writing" to "4 skills"

As I mentioned at the beginning, as a result of emphasizing the two skills of "reading" and "writing" in Japanese English education, the phenomenon of "cannot speak" and "cannot hear" occurred in actual communication. Furthermore, because the learning focused on "reading" and "writing," exams centered on "memorization" became the mainstream, and it can be said that more and more people are not good at English, which has completely different grammar and pronunciation.

Japan, which achieved rapid growth after the war, has become one of the world's leading developed countries, and since many things have become possible in Japan, there is almost no problem even if you do not speak English. However, as globalization progresses, we are changing to an era in which international human resources who can master English, which is a universal language, are needed. In addition, due to the declining population, it is expected that in the near future there will be a diverse society in which multiple languages and ethnic groups coexist, so English education in Japan is shifting to an emphasis on "four skills."

Behind this is the fact that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has transformed into education that emphasizes the three elements of "knowledge / skills," "thinking / judgment / expressiveness," and "independence." From 2020, the center test for the mark sheet was abolished for the university entrance examination, and it was changed to the "university entrance examination common test" that emphasized the three elements. English is also diversified, such as the "external English test" that emphasizes four skills, and the emphasis on recommendation and OA tests. For this reason, English education at schools has begun to incorporate learning that emphasizes "4 skills" from the conventional "reading" and "writing".

Reasons why "4 skills" are important

The reason why four skills have come to be emphasized is that learning English that relies solely on memorization does not establish two-way communication, and it is not possible to acquire language proficiency.

Some people may feel "wow!" When non-English speaking people speak English fluently on TV, but some of them have incorrect grammar and tense, which makes it difficult to understand. In fact, many of the non-English speaking people I have met speak English fluently, but they are not good at "reading" and "writing" and do not like grammar learning very much. I don't know if it was the opposite of English education in Japan, if I heard and remembered the native English that I visited, or if it was just due to ethnicity, but it is certain that the environment for English education was different from Japan. is.

As you can see from the above example, it is very important to develop four skills in a well-balanced manner and acquire "usable English (linguistic performance)" in order to establish communication.

In addition, you will be able to "express your thoughts and judgments" by making use of the "knowledge and skills" of "usable English" and foster "independence". In English-speaking countries, if you don't give your opinion, you may be considered "a person without an opinion" or "a person with low ability", so if you can't master English, you may not be able to survive the global era.

Of course, the four skills are important not only for school education but also for working adults to learn English. In a sense, four skills should be emphasized more than school education. This is because most working people use English in communication.

What is the universal "4 skill evaluation index"?

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) presents a comparison table between each qualification / certification test in English and the evaluation index "CEFR" for four skills that are common throughout the world. As a result, it has become possible to measure the practical level of English by using test results such as Eiken, TOEIC, and IELTS.

What is CEFR?

CEFR is an abbreviation that stands for "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages" and is translated as "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages" in Japanese. It is an international index that measures the practical level of foreign languages developed by the European Parliament after more than 20 years of research and experimentation.

Features of CEFR

・ Judgment frame common to all languages (foreign languages)・ Judgment
by "Can do descriptor" which expresses "what can be done" using language instead of knowledge amount
・ Learners can judge by themselves
・ Learner ・Both teachers can judge proficiency with the same index

The CEFR is used not only to judge proficiency in foreign languages, but also to train teachers, change curriculum, or develop teaching materials.

6 levels of CEFR

The CEFR divides the practical level into three levels: "A: Basic User", "B: Independent User", and "C: Proficient User". , Each is further divided into two levels, which are represented by a total of six levels.

C2: Native level mastery
C1: Effective Operational Proficiency
B2: Appropriate response to situations normally encountered (Vantage = adequate response) to situations normally encountered)
B1: Those who can deal with familiar things that are encountered on a daily basis (Threshold)
A2: Beginners who continue learning (Waystage)
A1: Beginner learners / beginners (Breakthrough = ) introductory) Source
: Reference Level Descriptions | CONCIL OF EUROPE

The proficiency level that expresses "what can be done" at each level is defined as follows.
Source : CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) | British Council

In addition, the index "CEFR-J" for use in English education in Japan was also created based on the CEFR. Beginners (A) and intermediates (B) are finely divided into levels from the CEFR, and "what can be done" is set for each of the 4 skills and 5 areas. In addition, "Pre-A1 level" is provided as a pre-stage of A1 level.

Take advantage of EnglishPhonetics English conversation based on the CEFR

4 In order to improve skills in a well-balanced manner, it is necessary to overcome areas of weakness. Adults who have learned English with a focus on "reading" and "writing" have some vocabulary and grammar skills, so learning English with a focus on "listening" and "speaking" will be the key to improving. .. Of course, you also need to continue learning vocabulary and grammar.

There are various contents such as apps, podcasts, and videos for "listening" learning, but there is no chance for "speaking" practice without foreign friends. Of course, speaking English alone is effective, but it is not a practice for catching words.

Therefore, I would like to recommend "online English conversation" where you can gain experience in speaking at a reasonable price. Among the many online English conversations, EnglishPhonetics English conversation "developed according to the CEFR-J standards" is recommended. In EnglishPhonetics English Conversation, we set 10 unique levels based on "CEFR-J", determine the degree of achievement, and set teaching materials that match the level. Since the levels are finely divided, you will be able to proceed with your studies while feeling the level up. Please take advantage of it!


With the educational reform of the Ministry of Education, English education in Japan has entered a new stage. In Japan, it may have been strongly recognized that "English" is one of the subjects, but English is one of the "communication tools". As the CEFR shows, you will be asked "what you can do" using English instead of the amount of knowledge you have in English. In order to master English as a communication tool, it is important to acquire four skills in a well-balanced manner. Some people may not be good at "listening" and "speaking", but enjoy English as if you were listening to or singing a song!