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Keys to Effective Communication

by Judie Haynes
Do the classroom teachers in your school need strategies to help them communicate
more effectively with English language learners? Just stick this article in their
mailboxes.
Classroom teachers need to gain a better understanding of successful strategies for
communicating with English langage learners. It is the ESL teacher’s role to help
them with this task. We can begin this effort by providing professional development
on communication strategies. This can be done at staff meetings, inservice days or
by simply putting this article in teachers’ mailboxes.

The following tips are keys to good communication that all teachers need to keep in
mind when teaching new learners of English.

o Newcomers need visual and kinesthetic support to understand academic


content material. Use drawings, chalkboard sketches, photographs, and
visual materials to provide clues to meaning. Try mime, gestures or acting
out the meaning of your message. Exaggerate emotions and vary your voice.
Teach your mainstream students to do the same. If necessary, repeat your
actions and rephrase the information.

o Speak in a clear, concise manner at a slightly slower pace using short,


simple sentences (subject-verb-object) and high-frequency words. Your
students will not understand you if you speak too fast or run your words
together. Use the names of people rather than pronouns. Pause after phrases
or short sentences, not after each word. You do not want to distort the
rhythm of the language. Avoid the passive voice, complex sentences.
idiomatic speech and slang.

o Smile and speak in a calm, reassuring manner. Raising your voice does
not facilitate comprehension. Your voice should not be too loud. Show your
patience through your facial expressions and body language. Give full
attention to your ELLs and make every effort to understand their attempts to
communicate.

o Allow your new learners of English extra time when listening and
speaking. Many of your ELLs are translating the language they hear to their
native language, formulating a response. and then translating that response
into English.

o It is important for you to check comprehension frequently. Don't ask "Do


you understand?" This is not a reliable check since many students will answer
"yes" when they don't really understand. Teach the phrases "I don't
understand," "Slowly, please," and "Please repeat." Write down information
so students have visual as well as auditory input. Print clearly and legibly on
the chalkboard. Remember that many of your ELLs and their parents will not
understand cursive writing.
o Accept one word answers, drawings and gestures. Do not jump in
immediately to supply the words for students or insist that they speak in full
sentences. Resist the urge to overcorrect which will inhibit newcomers so that
they will be less willing to speak. If students respond in heavily accented or
grammatically incorrect English, repeat their answer correctly. Do not ask the
student to repeat your corrected response as this can be very embarrassing.
Allow new learners of English to use a bilingual dictionary or ask for help from
a same language buddy.

o If you have important information to convey, speak to the newcomer


individually rather than in front of the class. The anxiety of being in the
spotlight interferes with comprehension. Don't insist that students make eye
contact with you when you are speaking to them. This is considered rude in
many cultures.

o Help students to participate in your class by letting them know which


question you are going to ask in advance. This will give your students the
time to prepare a response.

o Use choral reading. Your ELLs will want to participate but being the focus
of attention can be traumatic. Remember that your ELLs should understand
what they are reading chorally.

o Write key words on the chalkboard so students have visual as well as


auditory input. Emphasize these key words. Since many of your ELLs will not
understand cursive writing, you need to print clearly and legibly. When
writing notes home to parents, print your message and use a pen with black
or blue ink. In some cultures red is the color of death.

o Knowledge of questioning strategies is essential in differentiating


instruction for ELLs. Involving English language learners in the discussions in
their content area classes can be frustrating if teachers do not develop
strategies for asking questions. Below is a list of types of questions to ask
from easiest to most difficult.

1. Ask newcomers to point to a picture or word to demonstrate basic knowledge.


“Point to the penguin.

2. >Using visual cues, ask simple yes/no questions such as “Are penguins
mammals?”

3. Embed the response in the question using “either/or”. "Is a penguin a


mammal or a bird?”

4. Break complex questions into several steps. Simplify your vocabulary. Instead
of asking “What characteristics do mammals share?" say “Look at the
mammals. Find the bear, the dog and the cat. How are they the same?"

5. Ask simple "how" and "where" questions that can be answered with a phrase
or a short sentence. "Where do penguins live?" Do not expect your ELLs to
answer broad open-ended questions.
o Remember that there will be times when you will not be able to get an
idea across to newcomers. Ask the ESL teacher in your school for a list of
students who speak the newcomer's language. You will be able to call on
these students to act as translators if necessary. Keep in mind that K-2
students do not make good

10 Ways to Make Your Communication More Effective

by Heather Long | More from this Blogger

This is a checklist that every married couple should keep taped to their refridgerator
or their computer or their bathroom mirror - whereever they may see it every single
day. If you know someone who is going to be married, include it in a note or a card
to them. I try to look at this list as often as I can - because it helps and it serves as
a healthy reminder to make better choices and to be more effective when I
communicate with my spouse.
• Don't Be Judgemental - You need to avoid words and phrases that attack your
spouse and speculate on their flaws real or imagined. (i.e. You are so selfish -
you are so stupid sometimes - look at you, you can't even have a conversation
without acting like you are five - oh, poor you - wah wah wah)
• Skip the Labels - Don't slap a label on your spouse - calling them a jerk or
any other four or five letter word is an attack on them and not on what they
said, did or requested
• Use I communication - We've talked about this before, don't use the word You
when you are talking about a problem - instead talk about I (i.e. I feel
overwhelmed or I am being pulled in too many directions, I need help)
• Skip the History Lesson - You don't need to drag up every incident that ever
happened in the last five years of your relationship - it's important to be
constructive and not destructive (i.e. We had this conversation every month for
the last 12 months, you never listen - instead try: We have tried to resolve this
before, can you help me think of ways we can avoid having this same argument
next month?)
• Eliminate the Negative - We are none of us perfect, constantly reminding your
spouse of their flaws is not going to help them in any way - in fact, it's more
likely to do harm than good (i.e. You are hopeless! Instead try: how can I help
to make this work better for both of us?)
• Use description, not attacks - You want to communicate what is happening to
you and how you feel - not emote and scream at them so they have to guess
(i.e. You always do this to me! - instead try: Yes, I am angry and I am
frustrated. I need your help.)
• Don't bottle up your body language - When was the last time you wanted to
talk to someone who had their arms folded or their back to you with their
shoulders bunched up - we communicate nonverbally extremely well and we can
see when people are not wanting to listen much less hear us, try to relax your
shoulders and keep your arms down, look at them and not away - take deep
cleansing breaths if you need to
• Don't Caption Your Message - Say what you mean and say what you feel - tell
them the whole of it and not just the highlights. You aren't delivering the top
ten reasons why you are unhappy in pithy commentary, you want to use all
forms of communication to express yourself - whether you are conveying
positive or negative messages
• Don't Threaten - Threats put someone in a corner - they demand
acquiescence and promise consequences - too many people will do exactly the
opposite because they don't want to be threatened and a marriage needs
cooperation and not intimidation; persistant use of threats will damage and
could destroy a relationship
• You are No a Mind Reader - Avoid assumptions, you are not a mind reader
and neither is your spouse - their silence may indicate they are listening to you
intently and not ignoring you; ask and be clear in your statements - remember
what they say about assuming

These ten tips can help you avoid arguments due to miscommunication and can
provide you with tools to repair miscommunication that will occur. Understand, you
and your spouse are going to disagree. You are going to misunderstand sometimes
and there will be fights. The more effectively you communicate with each other - the
more likely you will be able to resolve differences and keep the channels of
communication open.

Basic Principles of Effective Communication


Posted on October 1, 2007 by admin
Effective communication is the pathway to build a strong relationship but
unfortunately it's so often overlooked. This article will provide some basic
principles and tips for effective communication.

From my experience, the three most important basic principles of effective


communication are:

1. Always listen when someone is talking.


2. Make sure that it is a two way process.
3. Affirm and acknowledge results.
LISTEN LISTEN and LISTEN
The most frustrating thing about communication is when the person whom you
are talking to is not listening to you. Before you even finish a sentence, he cuts
you off. A lot of the misunderstanding and misinterpretion are caused by not
listening to other party.

TWO WAY PROCESS


Communication should always be a two way process. Make it safe for other to
express his views. Effective communication means ideas are exchanging freely.

AFFIRM UNDERSTANDING OR RESULT


Effective communication is about the RESULT you get. This is perhaps the most
important thing in any communication. It means the person you are
communicating to totally understands your point. And you also understand his
point. So to ensure that your communication is effective, you must always
confirm understanding.

That's the three most basic pronciples for an effective communication. It sounds
simple but in practice, it is perhaps the hardest principles to follow, and has to be
constantly worked at.