So I had a lesson on communication yesterday with a class and we were discussing which spoken and written forms of communication the students prefer to use and what problems they may encounter with different forms of writing and speaking. It was interesting because these were adults and they were very aware of their difficulties and how it affected their communication.
I know from experience that students here in Poland very often hesitate and pause when speaking because they are afraid of making mistakes so I asked if not being afraid to make mistakes is important for a good communicator. I’ve covered the topic of mistakes and their role before. My intention was to point out the following:
It's much harder to follow someone's speech if they are continuously pausing. Active listening is hard enough for most people so if someone is pausing while speaking it will be even more challenging. With that said, remember that making mistakes is fine and preferable to your listener because you are continuously talking and most often your errors are not going to cause a misunderstanding.
That’s the first thing, the second thing is to really make an effort to expand your vocabulary. Saying this is one thing but how can it be done? Remind students:
This lesson is not school, you won’t be tested on all the words we cover. Choose only what you find relevant or useful from each lesson, between 3-5 words or collocations and use them outside of class in your work/life, practice using them even if you’re not sure. It is the only way to improve your vocabulary in your busy adult life.
This leads to what I believe is the goal of most of my students (even if they don’t know it).
To be succinct!
They don’t know what it means when I say it but I always define it this way: Able to express yourself with less words, or, being economical with your words. Most of my students are communicative but rely on the basics they feel comfortable with and so need many more words and long sentences to express themselves. This can be frustrating to adult professionals on a daily basis. Being succinct can help you reduce unnecessary length in your speech and in your email writing, and that is a worthwhile goal.
Nobody is saying this is easy but if you identify the real reason you attend English lessons as an adult professional you know what to focus on and give yourself a better chance of seeing results from your efforts.
If you found this topic interesting here’s another one on Small talk.