This is the third of the series of four articles about teaching the 4Cs to students, focusing on the third essential 21st century skill, Communication. Communication is one of the most vital skills which is required to compete in the modern world.
Teaching effective communication skills must be the foundation for any program preparing young people for the 21st century. Communication skills are prominently identified as 21st century skills among other skills such as interpersonal and collaborative skills. Effective communication skills involve expressing thoughts clearly, forming well-based opinions, communicating instructions in an effective way and motivating others through powerful speech. These skills for effective communication are always valued in the workplace and in public life.
Communication skills not only include reading, writing and listening, but also speaking. Though ways of communication presently have largely shifted to online and electronic communication with the emergence of e-mailing, texting, twittering, etc., still there’s nothing more powerful and effective in human communication than face-to-face verbal communication. It is not possible to realize the core 21st century skills goals without a strong foundation in oral communication and presentation skills. They are required for a clear expression of thoughts, for the articulation of opinions, communication of instructions and motivating others. Young people need to represent themselves effectively, they need to build the confidence to ask the necessary questions so they are well prepared and advantaged as they leave high school and go to work or college. They should be able to use their oral communications abilities to accomplish their goals.
Firstly, students need to be taught how to introduce themselves properly, how to make effective eye contact, how to begin and carry forward conversations, how to interact with different kinds of people, to develop interview skills and to address a live audience with authority and confidence. Students must not only see what effective communication looks and feels like but they must also understand the details of how it’s done so they can practice and develop their skills.
According to Claire Frankel-Salama, a teacher of French and Spanish language who also teaches Economics and History in French at Bishops College in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, good communication skills are the essential requirement of everyone today. She points out that there has been economic globalization at a large scale and it is being combined with modern communication technology, reflecting that everyone is now working in a multicultural, multilingual worldwide market.
She also adds that learning a second language can lead to improvements in first-language skills by developing an understanding of the significance of grammar, and developing and organizing ideas in order to express them. There is a need to view language as a communication system to gain an appreciation for your own language. Delivering a message is only a part of today’s good communication skills set and students need to acquire and assimilate information as well. Owing to the technological age, knowledge and information are no longer limited. Students can easily collect information simultaneously from a variety of information sources. Claire also points out that surviving in the workplace today requires flexibility, adaptability, and the need to find original and innovative solutions to problems.
Marlene Walther , a design technology and business English teacher at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Thunder Bay, Ontario, thinks that communication skills can and should be explicitly taught. She suggests that the best way to teach them is through authentic learning which requires not only teaching the rules of spelling and punctuation but putting them to use. Walther identifies the following elements of good communication:
- Reading and analyzing what is being read.
- Writing and developing the ability to use different styles in different situations.
- Researching in various media, including interviewing.
- Learning the proper use of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
- Learning by criticism which can be self-criticism or in the form of feedback from others, and the ability to plan for self-improvement.
Barry Lindahl , a teacher of Social Studies and History at West Vancouver Secondary School in West Vancouver, British Columbia, identifies the basic communication skills as reading, writing and listening. It takes time and effort to gain proficiency in elements of effective communication. Time is necessary not only to acquire good communication skills, but to practice and refine them. He points out that some communication skills are intangible and are best assimilated in the course of learning another discipline.
Claire explains that improved skills carry over into other disciplines and there is an improvement in her students’ performance in English owing to what they learned from her French and Spanish lessons. Lindahl's students have developed the ability to research and write effectively which improves their writing in other classes and in the workplace. In Walther's class, students understand that good communication skills are essential to getting their job done, at school and later in life.
Communication skills are essential for students to have a successful future. In today’s world of competitiveness, business communication skills are the most sought after quality of an educated person. Group activities are a great way to develop communication skills in students. Group activities should not only be restricted to classrooms, but teachers should encourage students to complete assignments by working in groups. This gives them better results, helps them to complete tasks faster and develops their habit of effectively communicating and collaborating in a group. Active listening is a very effective way to develop communication skills. Reading out from newspapers, magazines and other sources and later asking questions from that can help teachers make their students active listeners. Active participation of students should also be highly encouraged by the teachers.
Developing communication skills in students can be made possible by infusing a healthy feeling of competition and curiosity in them. Share your views on the context. The comment box is waiting.