ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND THE 21ST CENTURY CORE SKILLS
Imagine a world without language! Yes! That world does not exist and if it does then it will be a very chaotic world. Here is what the New Concept English Language says about language: “Language lives, dies and move from one place to another, and changes with time as well. Any language that ceases to change or develop is categorised as a dead language”.

The English Language, which has been around for over 1500 years, is a good example of an evolving language. Apart from communication purpose, the English Language, also, plays wonderful role in equipping students of English Language with skills needed to fit into our increasingly complex society.

According to Applied Educational Systems there are twelve 21st century skills studentsof English Language must have and they include the following:
Critical thinking, Creativity,Collaboration, Communication, Information literacy, Media literacy, Technology literacy, Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity and Social skills

These skills are further categorised into three groups: The Learning Skills, The Literacy Skills and The Life Skills. Of the three groups the most popular is the Learning Skills which house the 4C’s. The 4C’s are basically Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication.

Arguably, critical thinking is the most important quality for a student. It’s what helps students figure things out for themselves when they don’t have a teacher at their disposal. And most importantly, critical thinking will not be possible without the instrumentality of language. One begins to wonder how the deaf and dumb think.

Creativity is equally important as a means of adaptation. This skill empowers students to see concepts in a different light, which leads to innovation. If a student can think critically then creativity will not be far-fetched. In any field, innovation is key to the adaptability and overall success in the
academic life of a student. Learning creativity as a skill requires someone to understand that things can always be done in a better and improved way.

Collaboration means getting students to work together, achieve compromises, and get the best possible results from solving a problem.
Collaboration, which simply means team work, may be the most difficult concept in the four C’s to master. Especially, in a society like Nigeria where we
have diverse languages. If people don’t understand each other, how do they communicate with themselves and if they cannot communicate how do they work together as a team? The key element of collaboration is willingness. All participants have to be willing to sacrifice parts of their own ideas and adopt others to get results.

Finally, communication is the glue that brings all of these educational qualities together.Communication is a requirement for any student to go far in his/her academic trajectory. It’s crucial for students to learn how to effectively convey ideas among different personality types.
That has the potential to eliminate confusion in a workplace, which makes your students valuable parts of their teams, departments, and companies.
Effective communication is also one of the most underrated soft skills in Nigeria. For many, it’s viewed as a “gift,” and some people may even take good
communication for granted.

But poor communication by a leader can take a whole nation to war. Without understanding proper communication, students in the 21st Century will lack an important skill to progress their careers.

Emmanuel Chukwuebuka John – English Language Teacher