Teaching Competency of English Language Teachers and Media Literacy
Now-a-days, soft skills are considered as another important aspect of the teachers for efficient teaching. Regarding the soft skills, communication skill is the most important one that is needed by the language teachers to optimize the learning experience of the students. This paper tries to reveal the need of Effective Communication Skill as one of the important soft skill for the language teachers. The concept of soft skills Soft skills can be said to incorporate all aspects of generic skills that include the cognitive elements associated with non-academic skills.
Soft skills are identified to be the most critical skills in the current global education and the era of technology. The reorientation of education for sustainability also relates the importance of these soft skills. Soft skills in Education Vast research and expert opinions have been sought in the effort to determine the specific soft skills to be implemented and used in higher institutions of learning. Based on the research findings obtained, seven soft skills have been identified and chosen to be implemented in higher education as: * Communicative skills * Thinking skills and problem solving skills * Team work force Life-long learning and information management * Entrepreneur skill * Ethics, moral and professionalism and * Leadership skill The important soft skill needed for the language teacher Communication is as important aspect of language teaching. Effective communication skills are required for effective language teaching. Teachers of English are expected to have good command over the language and possess excellent communication skills. Communication skills include – using the target language effectively, the way of speaking, body language and facial expressions, pitch and tone of voice and interpersonal skills.
It is possible that they have some presuppositions about communication and communication skills which are considered to be one major factor in becoming an effective teacher. According to Dettmer, Thurston, and Dyck (1996), West and Cannon (1988), and Carl Rogers (1962) communication is among the most important skills for educators to possess. The role of communication is emphasized also by Lunenburg & Ornstein (1996, p. 176) as: “Communication is the lifeblood of the school; it is a process that links the individual, the group, and the organization”.
A gap in meaning between the intended and the received message can cause problems in the outcome of even the best teaching decision. Poor listening skills, ambiguous use of verbal and nonverbal language, poor semantics, and differing values are all items that can distort a message. To become effective communicators, educators must be aware of these potential problems and consciously work to eliminate them from their classroom interactions. They must also become knowledgeable about the importance of language in the learning process which gives a vital role to language teachers.
Body language of the teacher In the communication skill, the body language and the facial expression of the teacher is of much importance which arrests students’ participation. The ‘presence’ that a teacher has in the classroom is crucial in determining ‘how much’ learning takes place and ‘how well’ learning takes place. A tension free atmosphere is extremely important in language learning classroom. More than what behaviour reveals, it is the non-verbal behaviour that is of significance. Self respect, confident behaviour and tone and eye contact are some positive indicators.
Some of the ways in which body language can improve the desired atmosphere within the class are: * Keeping eye contact with the student you are talking to, and with every student in the class; * Standing ‘tall’ and walking in with head held high, instead of shuffling in, head bowed; * Having a calm, relaxed face – smiling and laughing easily; * Using facial expressions that show you are listening and responding to what the student is saying; * Smiling and nodding when a student is saying something; Linguistic competence versus Communicative competence Language is a tool of communication.
One can communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, opinions, attitudes, information and even misinformation through language. Different people express the same idea in different words. Language is a tool serving four main functions. These important functions are important for effective communication in the language classroom. The important functions of the language are: * Social function * Informative function * Expressive function * Directive function Keeping in mind these four important functions of language, let’s examine if our students are effective communicators in English.
Most of our graduates are good at writing beautiful and very literary answers to questions on Shakespeare, Wordsworth and other great writers. However, their literary competence isn’t enough for them to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in everyday situations. The ability to communicate requires us to use language to perform interpersonal functions such as starting a conversation, joining and leaving a conversation, making the hearer feel comfortable, giving options, and so on. Mere linguistic competence isn’t sufficient.
Of course, there’s no denying the value of linguistic mastery, which is the basis for communicative competence. Without words and grammar patterns, one can’t think of building communicative competence. However, rules of use are more essential than rules of grammar. Many graduates don’t know how to introduce themselves and how to introduce others; they don’t know how to ask for information politely, how to disagree tactfully, how to offer suggestions, etc. This is one very significant aspect that we need to pay attention to. Secondly, their English is bookish.
They don’t know that choice of syntax and vocabulary depends on the topic, the occasion, and the relationship between the speaker and the listener. It’s important to know what to say, when, to whom and how. Thirdly, the students need to be told that the vocabulary and syntax of spoken English are different from vocabulary and grammar of written English. They seem to be unaware of the fact that the words and grammar of spoken English are simpler than those of written English. As a result, they don’t use contracted forms and question tags while conversing and their English sounds bookish.
Developing the communication skills of the learners In language teaching developing the skill of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills should be given importance. These language skills are the foundation of communication skills. A good communicator is a keen and interested listener. Even a good listener cannot be an effective speaker. In order to be a good speaker, one has to master the accent, the rhythm and the intonation of the English language. Also one has to mind the tone of voice and make an effective use of facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and posture.
An excellent communicator uses verbal and non-verbal language to achieve the best effect. In order to develop good communication skills of the students, the language teacher need to * develop the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills * to be able to use language to perform various functions * master the rhythm, accent and intonation of the language * understand the differences between spoken and written language * remember the difference between meanings and messages Conclusion To remedy this situation we need to connect literature teaching with life outside.
In language teaching, the academic world and the real world should not stand apart as islands. From the standpoint of the learner, the great waste in the school comes from the learner’s inability to utilize the experiences he gets outside the school. To fill up this gap, the communication skill should be given importance in language teaching. Developing communication skills of the learners requires the efficiency of language teachers. So, the communication skill should be given primary importance both at the pre-service and in-service level of the language teaching.
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