4 poor communication skills (and what to do about them)

Pearson Languages
People of various backgrounds and ages standing together holding paper speech bubbles

How to help your students improve their general listening, speaking and understanding

Do your students ever display poor communication skills?

Most teachers will answer with a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, communication skills do not always come naturally to many people. Let’s look at some of the most common and egregious errors people make when speaking and listening to each other. I’ll also give you some valuable ways to help your students improve.

1. They don’t even stop to breathe!

If you find one student doing a LOT of talking, it’s probably because no one else can get a word in edgeways. It can be tempting to assume that this is because the chatty student thinks their ideas are better than anyone else’s, but, in fact, it is often a sign of nerves.

Look more carefully and see if they appear breathless or anxious. Whatever the reason, this kind of student may benefit from a more structured approach where students are given time to prepare what they are going to say, and everyone is expected to contribute equally. Or make it into a game where students have to make sure that they speak for 50% of the time each, as would be expected in an exam situation.

2. They aren’t really paying attention to each other

Whether your students are looking at their phones, staring out of the window or can’t wait to interrupt each other, poor listeners make poor communicators. Deal with this by always requiring the listener in any pair to do something specific. For example, tell them they will need to summarise what their partner said, or they have to think of three questions to ask their partner at the end.

We usually have a reason to listen in real-life communication, so make sure you give them one. Otherwise, they may assume that only the teacher needs to pay attention when another student is talking.

3. They ramble and it’s difficult to follow what they’re saying

Students may ramble because they are unconfident about the target language. It’s fine for students to struggle a bit to communicate, but it’s sensible to set achievable tasks, or they may give up.

It could also be that they would benefit from more rehearsal and practice. Being able to speak fluently ‘off the cuff’ is very challenging, particularly in front of an audience. Try giving students time to plan what they are going to say first. They shouldn’t be reading off the page, but writing it first can help with confidence and fluency.

Repetition is also invaluable in building fluency. Try doing speaking tasks more than once, and see how the quality and quantity improves each time. You can ring the changes by swapping partners or changing the format from pairs to small groups, to the whole class.

4. They don’t treat others’ feelings with respect

This can show itself in different ways. Maybe your students just completely ignore the feelings the other person is demonstrating or telling them about. Or maybe they dismiss them in other ways, ‘Oh, exactly the same thing happened to me! I was just walking along…’

You can model better ways to respond yourself. For example, “It sounds as if you feel quite angry about that?”, “That must have been really difficult.’

This teaches students the kind of phrases they can use to validate, empathize and talk about emotions.

If you can deal with these problems, your students will be well on the way to becoming master communicators.

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    What is a learning management system?

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    This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management. 

    Who uses LMS's and why? 

    There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms: 

    • HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit

    • Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler 

    • Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations 

    • Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms. 

    • Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning. 

    • Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students 

    • Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause 

    Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's. 

    Who has access to LMS's?

    In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.  

    Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.

    On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.

    However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher. 

    Key features in modern LMS's

    There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include: 

    • Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses

    • Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities 

    • Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys

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    • Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go 

    • Integrations with other internal systems and software 

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    Saving time and money

    First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training. 

    Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort. 

    Ensuring compliance training is completed

    These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training. 

    Provide accurate data

    Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.

    Improves the learning experience

    Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated. 

    Simplifying communication

    Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.