The receptive skills are listening and reading, because learners do not need to produce language to do these, they receive and understand it. These skills are sometimes known as passive skills. They can be contrasted with the productive or active skills of speaking and writing.
Often in the process of learning new language, learners begin with receptive understanding of the new items, then later move on to productive use.
In the classroom
The relationship between receptive and productive skills is a complex one, with one set of skills naturally supporting another. For example, building reading skills can contribute to the development of writing.