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Oral Communication Classes

2019/04/26

Oral Communication Classes


"Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." Anne Morrow Lindbergh


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The word 'communication' is open to many interpretations. For this short piece, we'll keep it to:


  1. passing information to somebody

  2. saying what you want to say, rather than what you are told to say

  3. getting the job done, getting a response

  4. saying what is meaningful rather than what is linguistically correct


So how do we facilitate this 'communication' in our classes? For starters, let's focus on points 1, 2, and 3. Communication by definition is the transfer of information from source to receiver; that information by definition is not already known to the receiver. To facilitate this in class, a communicative activity can be implemented where A has information which B does not, and then prompting an exchange of information.


At elementary school level, it could be an activity of asking yes-no, or closed end questions. Some activities that you may have come across are true/false activities, questionnaire activities, and guess who/what activities.


At high school level there are more options such as using open-ended questions in order to elicit the required information. Some activities straight from standard textbooks include asking for directions, explaining train routes, ordering at a restaurant, phone conversations, and many role playing activities.


Oral communication activities can be done via: 1) teacher to student, 2) student to teacher, and 3. student to student.


In an oral communication class, the third style would be most beneficial for students, and we should be planning our lessons as such. Ask yourself every time when planning a lesson: Can I make this game/activity more communicative between students? Who has the most talking time in the class for this lesson?


On point 4, communication is saying what is meaningful rather than what is linguistically correct. This is what we want the students to understand - that they can use gestures, diagrams, illustrations, physical demonstrations, anything to supplement the 'oral' part of communication to try and get information across as best as they can.


Oral communication classes are not eikaiwa, and most likely are not to be focused on correcting grammar and pronunciation (although some JTs do request that). The focus should be getting the students engaged, and be free in how they communicate to you and each other.

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