Unless the two essentials in an interaction — practical and personal needs — are honoured, the outcome of conversations might not be entirely successful.
Flashback to those days in school and then in college where our teachers and professors used to tell us one thing, “Enjoy these days, they will never come. Your life is just starting and you have no idea how hard it is out there in the real world.” Every time they said this we all wondered “What are they talking about? I am going to get rid of these books for life; what could be worse?” And then we entered ‘the race’, an endless race to be recognised as the best in whatever we do.
I still remember our tutor at the accounts coaching classes telling us, “If you don’t know how to solve financial accountancy you are dead. You have no future.” I am sure every faculty member told us similar things. And we ran to become perfect at the skills we were trying to specialise in — be it accountancy and finance, marketing, engineering, literature, statistics or anything else.
What all these good people told us was definitely true; in fact it will help you fetch your first job well! But there is one thing that research tells us will take you a long way for years to come. We call this ‘interaction essentials.’
This is split in two parts — personal needs and practical needs. Remember your favourite faculty in school or college, who was not just good at the subject and excellent at teaching it but did something more. He touched our lives in many different ways. His ability to teach us a complex concept in a simple way was helping us meet our practical needs.
But the ways in which he treated us, made us feel good about ourselves, answered our stupidest question and yet answered it with all sincerity, he made us practise all by ourselves and created a safe environment where it was “OK to fail”; this, my friends, was him meeting our personal needs without us realising it.
Now how does that translate into work-life?
For example, when we step into our roles in a corporate environment as young individuals we have so many things to take care of. Learn about the company, communicate and collaborate with different stakeholders like bosses, peers, external or internal customers. We also have to face a lot of challenges like meeting targets or set objectives, collecting data from other departments to present to senior leaders, achieving deadlines and much more.
While many feel that it’s easy — all we have to do is communicate with others — we forget that how we communicate is as important as what we communicate. It’s so rational and logical to have a talk with others involved to get things done, but then why do conflicts arise? It is because one of the two elements of interaction essentials is not honoured.
Interaction process either as individuals or as leaders is very critical and has to be practised day in and day out. The personal needs that we refer to as Key Principles (KPs) were derived after years of research and when they are applied, people feel valued, respected and understood.
Our research also tells that these KPs have direct impact on levels of engagement, motivation and productivity of individuals.
In the race to achieve tasks and targets we often get so focused on the job at hand that we don’t see anything else. But like your favourite faculty member you will meet your favourite boss and would be surprised or rather amazed to see how similar these two people are!
The writer is member,
Key Leadership Team,
Knowing exactly which aspect of the communication skill needs to be improved upo
In the age of globalisation, everyone needs to enhance their communication skills in English in order to cope with the increasingly tough competition in the job market. Mere subject knowledge in their chosen field, be it engineering, science, commerce or humanities, is not going to be a guarantee for them to get a good job or excel at the workplace.
David Crystal in his book English as a global language states that 85 per cent of the world’s international organisations use English as their official language in transnational communication, and 90 per cent of the published academic articles are written in English.
Multinational corporations (MNCs) and major information technology (IT) companies in India recruit candidates who have good English communication skills. In this highly competitive society, proficiency in English is considered one of the employability skills. There has been a wide gap between what the students need and what is taught at the tertiary level. Teaching English to a group of students without knowing their language needs is just like prescribing a particular medicine to someone without diagnosing the person’s disease. Somehow, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model doesn’t work in English language teaching (ELT).
The fact that English is not taught as a life skill or survival skill in most schools and colleges makes me raise the question whether teachers of English are really competent and whether they have had proper training to teach the language effectively. The urgent need of the hour is to take appropriate measures to enable teachers to grow professionally. Teachers of English should stop considering themselves as the source of knowledge and students as mere sponges. An effective teacher enables the learner to move from dependent stage to independent stage and then to interdependent stage. This is the process of empowering the learner. The education system at the tertiary level also needs to be transformed radically. The present system is not conducive for teaching English as a life skill. Undue importance is given to examination-oriented coaching, and as a result the English language teacher ceases to be creative. Educational institutions are slowly becoming coaching centres. Most private engineering colleges seem to focus only on achieving higher pass percentage every year at the cost of compromising quality. The teacher who prepares students for examinations well and who awards marks to the students generously is adjudged the best teacher, and the one who is creative and who teaches English for life is considered worthless.
If we want our future engineers and other professionals to speak and write good English, we should look into various maladies that affect the effective teaching of English and find remedies that will purify the system.
Following are some of the maladies:
Most English language courses do not reflect the present and future language needs of the students.
The absence of skills-oriented teaching results in ineffective learning.
There is a gap between the target situation (employment market) and the existing proficiency of learners.
The absence of standard course books.
Listening and speaking skills are not given adequate importance.
English language courses should be based on the principles of globalism.
The courses should be innovative in content (interesting and useful material for reading and listening, commutainment (communication through entertainment) activities, oral presentation, group discussion, mock interviews, etc.)), in methodology (eg. a process approach to oral presentation, focus on the integration of skills) and in learning outcomes.
An innovative approach that focuses on creativity, critical thinking skills, group skills, interpersonal skills, functional competence, intercultural competence, etc. should be promoted.
Effective measures must be taken to shift from basic language skills to wide-range of skills required at work.
The English language courses should have activities that foster learners’ critical thinking and group skills.
The courses should develop learner autonomy through language labs and web-based learning.
Project-based activities should be given to learners to develop their language skills in a meaningful manner.
The increasing focus on tests and exams should be arrested.
Teachers should be trained to teach creatively based on the target needs.
Corporate people should be involved in the design of the course.
English language courses should be evaluated and modified on a regular basis.
It is high time policy makers realized the need for teaching English as a life skill and paved the way for it. It is high time teachers of English equipped themselves professionally. Better late than never! The ELT community should come together and strive to achieve the noble cause of empowering their students. It is possible only if they are ready to undergo a paradigm shift.
The writer is an English Language Teaching (ELT) resource person. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindly acknowledge the source of the article “English for Survival”. The author of the article is “Dr Albert P’Rayan”. The article appeared in Education Plus, a higher education supplement of The Hindu.
n can make English language teaching more effective.
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- The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2013 – Part Two (larryferlazzo.edublogs.org)
- 2nd MOOC for English Language Teaching on WizIQ; Celebrity Teachers Featured (sacbee.com)
Vision Toastmasters, Hyderabad & Gavels Club, Secunderabad, is organising a workshop on communication skills and honing leadership qualities in children and adults.
Venue : St. Mary’s College, Yousufguda
Date : November 17; 9.30am to 12.30 p.m.
Media Junction is conducting a four-day workshop on Effective Public Speaking. The workshop will focus on video counselling, body language, ways to handle stage fear, art of speech making, presentation techniques, art of expression, how to create an impression, impromptu speech and more.
Date : November 21 to 24; 6 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Venue : Media Junction, Ground Floor 4A, Parthani Towers, Besides Usha Mayuri Theatre, Golconda Cross Roads, Musheerabad
Contact : 9848842471
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