The job of the teacher isn’t just to focus on the sciences and other academic subjects in the curriculum. A good teacher should be capable of preparing students for their upcoming experiences in college and even beyond.
A focus on soft skills like communication is of paramount importance. Many teachers have discovered that students don’t know how to have a conversation .A new generation is growing up in front of the computer and smartphone screen. These kids are skilled when it comes to texting but expressing their ideas face-to-face is a completely different endeavor.
As a teacher, you can employ many strategies to make your students better conversationalists. Here are a few of them.
A Good Conversation Involves a Lot More than Just Speaking
Many people think that a conversation is all about speaking skills. This isn’t necessarily the case. A lot more is involved in good conversation. Using body language and knowing how to interpret the body language of others happens to be equally important.
Teachers can and should focus on non-verbal behavior in the classroom.
There are many strategies to put emphasis on body language. One of them is the so-called SLANT approach. It focuses on a few key concepts like sitting up straight, listening attentively, answering questions, nodding to show some interest in the other person and tracking the speaker.
Assertiveness involves hiding signs of nervousness when presenting an idea. This is why many schools have their students making presentations, participating in debates and defending their point of view. It’s not about knowing that the argument is good enough, the delivery will also matter.
Activities like role playing teach students how to act in different situations. The only way to master a conversation is through practice and every single teacher knows that there isn’t just one conversation scenario in the whole wide world.
The purpose of two people having a conversation is to usually find a common ground, something that brings them together. Thus, a teacher can make students imagine themselves in different social surroundings – making small talk in the supermarket, meeting someone during a party, attending an interview to join a college, etc.
Conversations carried out in both personal and professional settings consist of more or less the same elements. Once the basic template is established, kids will be left with tweaking the elements of a good conversation to meet the specifics circumstances.
Teach them about asking the other party questions, attempting to discover common grounds and deliberating on those. In essence, this is the pattern that every single conversation out there will follow. Once this basic concept is understood, get students to practice in pairs by making them imagine different scenarios.
Different Points of View
Just like it’s a good idea to carry out role playing exercises, teachers may also want to experiment with different points of view when teaching their students communication skills.
An excellent exercise is asking students to defend a point of view that they don’t believe in or share with the rest of the class. Such an exercise improves critical thinking and makes it easier for students to adapt to the situation.
When students have to talk about their own opinion, they’ll often find emotions to be standing in the way of concise, eloquent communication. Making them communicate a different point of view puts emphasis on the conversational aspect of the exercise rather than defending one’s idea.
Such an exercise can easily be turned into a debate. Students will be asked to defend opposing points of view in a rational, comprehensive manner. In such settings, the imaginations of students are activated and they’ll be doing a lot of thinking when it comes to all of the points they could make to defend the idea.
Always Ask Open-Ended Questions
Classroom interactions that don’t put emphasis on communication can also be used to enhance the conversation skills of students.
During periods, a teacher should focus on asking open-ended questions. Giving students the chance to reply with just yes or no is anything but productive. This is why asking open-ended questions is one of the first things that journalists learn.
As a teacher, you may want to ask questions that don’t have one correct answer but rather force students to analyze the situation and interpret it for themselves. Not only will such an exercise strengthen their critical thinking, it will also give them the tools needed to communicate the idea across.
Teach students to think for themselves. Instead of focusing on specific knowledge, focus on the process that leads to its accumulation. This is a lesson that young minds will never forget.
Even shy, introverted students can become better conversationalists through proper training and sufficient exercise. Don’t focus your lesson plans on facts alone. Self-expression is equally important and as an educator, you have a duty to encourage it.