What does communication involves?
At a basic level, we are aware that there’s written, verbal and non-verbal communication. While research shows that students generally can feel the essence of the message conveyed through body language, verbal and written communication continue to play an essential part in getting detailed messages across.
In this article, I’ll focus on the development of verbal communication skills, of speaking the language in the learning environment and consciously articulating speeches to a public audience.
Skills for clear verbal communication
Being effective in communicating one’s though requires the skill of conveying an accurate message clearly with carefully chosen words using the correct grammar and employing the appropriate intonation with clearly enunciated words.
Communication also includes interactions and discussions in the classroom that is aimed at conveying ideas and concepts to solve problems, to connect with others, to express thoughts, and to deepen the thinking processing.
Classroom participation: a student’s dilemma
Students learn best when they are able to interact with each others. Learning takes place among peers and with teachers when thoughts are exchanged and knowledge transferred.
Participation in the class is key in the development of verbal communication. In class, students learn to ask for information and clarification every day with friends and teachers.
To learn communicate and to be able to do so with clarity takes conscious effort and a lot of encouragement from the teachers. Especially so if the speaking is to be done in front of strangers and in the public.
Speaking in public builds confidence
In helping students speak a new language, students are sometimes encouraged to use of language even if the grammar may not be absolutely correct. This is probably because it takes the students a longer time to learn a language than the intonation and articulation.
However, every effort that the student makes is a step towards building the confident to speak the language in public.
The teacher’s attitude to the class discussions and to other modes of participation greatly influences the students’ own attitude to communication. The more comfortable the learner is in using the language, the more she’s able to choose the right words and to enunciate them clearly.
Teachers help by setting examples, speaking clearly and articulating every word. They also allow students to “make mistakes” and helping to correct by giving explanations.
The teacher’s role in teaching communication
Teachers set the stage for the process of effective communication. When teachers create a learning environment that is fair, safe, and challenging for the students, they feel comfortable enough to speak in public and participate in class.
Dr Ken Shore has some practical suggestions for what teachers can do to encourage students so they are able to communicate by formulating questions and wanting to respond to questions raised by others in the class.
Ways to encourage students to speak in public
Making the classroom a safe place to learn is a key thing we emphasize at Scholar Base. Teachers who do not dismiss students’ contribution but are patient with their answers, listen attentively and provide constructive feedback to the students’ contribution.
Every answer that the student provides receives a positive reinforcement, whether that is a nod, a smile or some encouraging words from the teacher.
Speaking with expression and confidence
In following their teachers’ example, students at Scholar Base would in turn learn how to articulate their own thoughts, opinions, reasoning and thinking process in a manner that is clear for their peers to comprehend. They even enjoy injecting expressive tonal inflection, differing volume and pace to emphasize a point.
Being able to speak confidently in front of an audience is something that even some adults struggle with today. But if we start the students learning this while they are young, chances are they will not fear future presentations and speaking engagements.
With the right communication skills, students also learn how to solve daily problems. This is especially relevant in today’s context as knowledge-building, inquiry-based and problem-solving approaches are increasingly called upon.
Communication is a two-way street
The process of learning is not one-sided. At Scholar Base, our mentors (the teachers) do not just disseminate and spoon-feeding students with information. We take a two-way approach whereby teachers and students respect and respond to each other to clarify, understand, and interpret the content shared.
Scholar Base believes firmly in establishing good relationships between teachers and students as they journey on and co-create learning and places communication as one of the foundation of learning.