One of the essential skills ESL learners need to develop is tolerance to ambiguity. “What? Another skill I have to learn?” you might ask, ” But you (the teacher) told us that there are just four: reading, writing, listening, and speaking! Isn’t that enough already?” “Not enough, my friends,” I would say. The four skills you just mentioned are the kind of skills that are OBVIOUS and TALKED A LOT ABOUT. But there are a few others, that are as important as these four, but they are not really taught in the classroom, and I think they should be.
Ambiguity is a situation in which something can be understood in more than one way. In simple terms, ambiguity is something confusing. An ambiguous sentence could be understood in one way by some people, and in a different way by others. And this misunderstanding makes it very funny sometimes. Consider this sentence: They said they saw the Eiffel Tower flying over Paris. Who was flying? The people who said this or the tower? This sentence could be understood either way, and that’s what makes it ambiguous. Watch out for this kind of situations, because there are great many of them in everyday life, and we have to figure them all out. And how exactly do we do that? I’ll tell you in another post.