A basic Introduction to English Communication Skills

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A Basic Introduction to English Communication Skills

A Basic Introduction to English Communication Skills
1.1.Definition of Communication Skills and The Need for Effective Communication Skills
1.2. Types of Communication Skills


2.2.English Communication Through Practical Experiences
A Basic Introduction to English Communication Skills


The ability to speak and communicate is the only difference between Animals and Human beings. It’s due to effective communications skills that humans interact with one another as a social being. For a person to progress well in society, only merits are not enough, only qualifications don’t work, the person have powerful communication skills so that he can put across to others what he wants them to do. It’s all fine about communications skills but the question is how to improve these skills. Firstly, there’s much literature on the net which you can read and utilize in your life. Secondly, you can get books on the subject and thirdly, you can join NEO in his Corporate English Training and Communication Classes.

1.1.Definition of Communication Skills

Different books and experts define communications skills differently but the most basic definition is that:
Communication skill is the art and technique of communicating by using oral and body language to persuade him or bring into him the change that you want him to be.

Thus, Communication skills is the ability to use language and express information. Communication skills is the set of skills that enables a person to convey information so that it is received and understood. Communication skills refer to the behaviors that serve to convey information. Communication skills is the ability an individual displays in consistently to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors in both the professional and personal world.

1.2.Types of Communication Skills

There are different types of communication skills. The first communication type is Para Communication Skills. This type of communication includes communicating with the divine and with spirits in the form incantations and rituals. Secondly, we have Interpersonal communication skills. This is direct, face-to-face communication that occurs between two persons. It is essentially a dialogue or a conversation between two or more people. This type of communication involves maximum interaction through words and gestures. Thirdly, we have non verbal communication skills. This includes aspects such as body language, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, etc., which also become a part of the communicating process; as well as the written and typed modes of communications. No matter what the different types of communication skills are, communicating is an ever-continuing process that is going on all the time. It is as important to human life as is day-to-day existence.

The Need for Effective Communication Skills

Communication is one of the essential basis of human existence, yet most people overlook the need to enhance their communication skills. Effective communication skills is a must whether it is individual or a group. But how can we effectively communicate? We can communicate effectively when we understand the stages of interpersonal communication: The first is the The Phatic Stage. This is the initial stage, which determines the course of the conversation. This begins with the greetings and accompanying gestures such as eye contact, the smile, etc. There is usually no intention, but it’s just the setting for the next level of the conversation. Next is the The Personal Stage. This is the second stage in which the individuals bring a more personal things into the conversation. Here, we are ready to let the others involve in the conversation more about themselves and the hesitation decreases. The third stage is the The Intimate Stage. This stage is mainly meant for conversations between friends, family and relatives, where those involved in the conversation share a higher level of intimacy with each other. This stage of communicating usually takes opening one's heart and sharing rather intimate details, which is not a part of professional conversations. Professional Conversation doesn’t usually reach this stage.

Some Barriers of Communication

Being able to speak doesn’t mean being an effective communicator. Communication is more than speaking. Yes, speaking is an important aspect of communicating but this is not the only tool. Speaking clearly and effectively is much more important than merely speaking. We need to focus on non-verbal aspects of communication and overcome the barriers of communication; otherwise, we cannot communicate well. The most important barriers of communication are interrogating, criticizing, blaming, moralizing, threatening, name-calling, eyes flashing, showing quick movements, staring and over fidgeting. An effective communication can never take place unless we overcome these barriers. Even the best communicators do feel some communication barriers. There are usually one or many of these barriers in communication. There are listening barriers when interrupting people. Sometimes, participants are overzealous so it is difficult to communication effectively. Also there may be too many questions by the participants which could be difficult to handle. But speaking barriers are also great hurdles in communications. The speakers may speak incomplete sentences or transmit unclear messages. In communication, these barriers post a real problem for communicators.

Verbal Communication
A good communicator always maintains an eye contact with the audience. It’s due to eye contact that you can get people involved in you. Thought eye contact, you can always watch the boy posture of your audience. Their body posture can give you much information as to what they are thinking of you or whether they are interested in you or not. Gestures are also of vital importance in communication skills. Use gestures and expressions as often as possible but they should be a natural part of your communication. These gestures should not be intrusive in your communication. The last tip for good communication is practice, practice and practice a lot. You can take a book and start reading aloud imagining an audience before you. You can also watch a TV program and mimic their presentations.

What are the key communication Skills?

The key communications that a person must learn in order to be a good communicator involve the following functions: Taking responsibility for one's messages, Claiming ownership for one's messages, Preparing to listen, Reflecting on what the speaker has to say, Being open minded, Acknowledging differences of opinions, Assessing without being judgmental, Accepting feedback, Ability to share one's thoughts and Feelings, Ability to resolve conflicts so that it is a win-win for all and Ability to explain objectively without evaluating. These key skills are important in communication skills. Communication training has become very important in 21st century so keeping these things in mind, different communication programs are designed. A good communication program must have the following key areas: Introduction to Communication Skills, Business Communication, Improving Speaking, Attentive Listening, Using examples and gestures, being emphatic, initiating the communication process, Praising without being superfluous and Conflict resolution - win-win problem solving ability. The above are some of the general skills which must be in a every communication course.

Personality Development and Communication Skills

Personality is generally defined as the deeply ingrained and relatively enduring patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. In fact, when one refers to personality, it generally implies to all what is unique about an individual, the characteristics that makes one stand out in a crowd. But there are two factors which grow or make up a person’s personality. These are hereditary and environmental factors. But environment plays a more important role in personality development than hereditary factors. While classes and training programs can help one grow and develop each day, yet one can actually climb the personality ladder by being aware of the self, his environment and hereditary factors. What actually makes a good personality is positive thinking and accepting the good with the bad and vice versa. Developing a good personality without any negative tendencies, one needs some mantras to recite each day which actually tell upon a person’s personality later. For example, a person can repeat each and every day, “Every day is a new day”, “I am full of love today”, “I have faith in myself and others”, “I am an honest and sincere person” and “I will greet this day with love and my heart and failure can never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”. These mantras are important to develop a person’s personality and without a good personality, there’s no use of communication skills.

Corporate English Training and Soft Skills

Corporate English Training (CET) is effective customized in-house English Training Courses and Workshops for the company staff. When it comes to training in corporate English there are two important aspects: Written English Skills and Spoken English Skills. Together, they make Communication Skills because one needs to communicate in written as well as spoken mode of communication. Corporate English itself has certain features which make it a distinctive type of English. For example, people don’t stand gender-specific language. One must finish what one has started. One should be direct and not mince words. In Corporate English Training, what we need most is Soft Skills. The driving force in every company is its employees. In order for employees to perform better, their trainings are conducted. Among these trainings soft skills are the most important. According to Human Resource heads of various leading enterprises, regular training in soft skills, helps the company as a whole, as the result of such a training is to motivate the staff members. Soft skill refers to self-management. Every employee has to be a qualified self-manager. The soft skills, are the essential skills required to make an individual and adept self-manager. Someone who can manage the self, and other selves in order to be able to perform above expectations, or at least at par; but definitely not below. The soft skills include courtesy, honesty, personal integrity, adaptability, Verbal Communication Skills, Team Skills, Written and Spoken Communication, Critical Thinking and Grooming.


In short, it is evident that Communication Skills is not one single skill rather it is a combination of many inter-related skills yoked together to achieve an end. The article is only a basic introduction to the communication skills. For further study, you can study books or get enrolled in a course by NEO. Thanks.


The global spread of English has important implications for teaching practices, which need to cater for the dimension of intercultural communication (intelligibility and standardization), as well as for local issues connected to the host culture complex. Holliday (1994: 15-16) views the classroom as the locus of a complex web of cultures: the students with their previous learning experience and expectations; the teachers with their educational background, training, experience and teaching philosophy; the materials used, their content and inherent methodologies; the publishers that offer materials to be used in the
classroom; the host institution; the host educational environment, influenced by the local and national professional-academic culture (the ministry of education, various agencies), the national culture, the international-related cultures. All these factors combine to create what may be called a culture of learning, i.e. various expectations, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that influence what happens in the classroom. In Cortazzi and Jin’s opinion, the culture of learning is “part of the hidden curriculum” which shows that “much behavior in the language classroom is set within a taken-for-granted framework of expectations, attitudes, values, and beliefs about what constitutes good learning, about how to teach or learn…” (1996: 169)
Understanding a new culture of learning is the teacher’s first step in trying to use appropriate methodology and select or create suitable materials for particular classes.
There are many studies that compare and contrast Western and Eastern (Chinese, Japanese) cultures of learning, mostly from a unilateral perspective- that of native teachers on host cultures. Cortazzi and Jin (1996) contrast the Western teachers’ and the Chinese students’ perceptions on expected learner behavior in class. Thus, while Western teachers value students’ volunteering in class and consider it a proof of interest and active participation, Chinese students regard such practices as showing off; group discussions and other kinds of group work activities are considered by native English speaking teachers important in building up a team spirit and encouraging collaboration, whereas Chinese and Japanese students seem to regard such activities as pointless and a waste of time.
Flowerdew and Miller (quoted in McKay, 2002) consider that the differences in approach and methodology between Chinese and Western lectures are due to the different sets of values promoted by Confucian and Western culture, respectively. Confucian way of thinking emphasizes hard work and modesty, while the Western one places value on individual development, self-confidence and self-expression. In the Chinese approach to learning motivation comes from family and pressure to excel, while in Western culture motivation comes from within, from one’s desire to develop and be creative. Confucian culture stresses the authority of the lecturer or teacher, who should not be questioned or interrupted, as these are signs of disrespect; in Western culture, where the teacher is mainly a facilitator and a guide, questions, comments or other opinions are welcomed, as they are signs of interest.
When the context is Asian and the English teacher is a native speaker, oppositions may occur because of the different notions of what represents classroom learning and acceptable classroom behavior. From the point of view of the students, the teaching methods should remain the traditional, expected ones, while from the point of view of the native English speaking teacher the communicative approach should be accommodated with. The classrooms are characterized as “silent” and the students “reticent to speak” (Lee, & Ng, 2010). This stereotype view comes from the dichotomy East-West, where Western models are taken as standards of behavior.
Given the complexity of social and cultural factors that are at play in any English teaching situation, Holliday (1994: 1-2) argues that “any methodology in English language education should be appropriate to the social context within which it is to be used”.
When local teachers simply “import” methods and approaches that were devised initially for other contexts-of-learning, or when English speaking teachers use methods they are familiar with in a new context without first investigating that culture of learning, problems may appear. An example is the implementation of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in Hong Kong in the 1980’s, at the special recommendation of the Curriculum Development Committee. Citing research findings from Evans (1997), Leung (1987) and Sze (1992), Tong (2004) concludes that “[a]lthough the CLT has been popular in some parts of the world, e.g. language schools in Britain, Australasia and North America, its effectiveness in Hong Kong is in doubt.” Following Cortazzi and Jin (1996), Tong attributes this state of affairs to the ‘Chinese culture of learning’ in which the concept of ‘face’ plays an important part and volunteering for an answer is equated with ‘showing off’.
Similar problems have been reported by native speakers of English when trying to implement Western approaches, such as CLT in the Chinese EFL classroom (Simpson, 2008). The two philosophies that are in conflict are those underlying CLT, as an expression of Western culture, based on the ideals of equality and individualism and the Traditional Chinese Method (TCM), as an expression of Chinese traditional values, based on hierarchical relations and collectivist values.
The simple translation on foreign soil of Western methods without considering the host culture complex may lead to conflict, frustration and baffled expectations on both sides. Simpson suggests that the solutions to the problem might be a better collaboration between Western and local teachers, a better understanding of the host culture complex and step-by-step changes. While the idea of collaboration between local and Western teachers seems rewarding, Simpson proves to be somewhat biased and patronizing when speaking about the “proven successes of the Western pedagogy (linguistically and culturally)” and the “constraints of the Chinese EFL context” (2008: 389).
Holliday considers that the dichotomy East-West oversimplifies the problem, since “it is not simply a Western-non-Western problem, because it is sometimes difficult to implement the methodology in continental Europe” (1994: 11-12). What he advocates for is a “culturesensitive methodology”, which should be informed about and should take into account the classroom culture.
Two Contexts of Learning
This section of the paper presents two different contexts of learning – Romania and Taiwan - and advocates for a methodology meant to develop the students’ speaking skills which takes into account the main characteristics of the teaching situation.
The main goals of foreign language education in Romanian high schools consist in acquiring and developing the communicative competence necessary for contextually adequate and socially accepted communication through the acquisition of specific knowledge, skills and attitudes, at levels which are equivalent with those established by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The English high school curriculum includes general competencies, specific competencies, as well as values and attitudes. While the curriculum is developed by the Ministry of Education in terms of recommended topics, communicative functions and structures, the teachers themselves (sometimes in collaboration with the local educational authorities) have the liberty to select the textbook they are going to use. Most of these textbooks show an adherence to the communicative approach to language teaching: authentic texts and tasks, information gap activities, problem solving tasks, simulations and little attention paid to grammar. At the end of the high school years, Romanian students pass a national school leaving examination. Assessment of foreign language proficiency is also part of this examination: students are evaluated in all the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking), according to a yardstick devised in conformity with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001). However, since the proficiency level does not count in the final grade, the washback effect is extremely poor. Romanian students who are enrolled in a university (with the exception of those who study philology) attend a foreign language course (usually English, French, or German) for two years. As a result of their past exposure to the communicative approach, Romanian students are generally fluent in oral communication, but not very accurate in either speech or writing. Most of them like working in pairs or groups and are confident enough to express their own ideas to the whole class. However, although speaking as a skill has been developed in high school, most freshmen are unaccustomed to speaking in front of an audience and oral presentations techniques are generally unknown to them.
Taiwanese society places a great emphasis on education, which, as Yakovleva points out, is considered “the key to success in life” (2013: 275). From among the various disciplines, English has acquired special status. In 1968, English became a compulsory subject in junior high school. In 2001, the Ministry of Education introduced a reform in English education policy, deciding that English should become a mandatory subject earlier, in the fifth grade of elementary school. The English curriculum establishes as its priorities the achievement of communicative ability, cultivate interest in English, gain understanding of other cultures and respect for cultural differences. Although the English curriculum for secondary education in Taiwan shows a propensity towards CLT and many textbooks embody its principles, what happens in the classroom and how the materials are used may be another matter. There are many other factors that have a say here, apart from the textbooks: the teachers, with their own teaching styles and teaching philosophy; the students, with their previous language learning experience, expectations and learning goals; the schools themselves, which tend to keep traditional values and beliefs.
One thing that puzzled me when I started teaching in a Taiwanese university was the fact that the students never volunteered for an answer: they responded only when nominated by the teacher and, even in that case, they gave short answers, which were sometimes difficult to understand because they were not loud enough. In order to find out more about my students’ past (pre-university) English language experience, I made a small-scale study (49 respondents), using two main instruments of investigation: questionnaires and interviews (Iftimie, 2006). The results obtained support observations made in the literature on the so-called ‘Chinese culture of learning’: an examination-driven education system (starting with junior school), whose main purpose is to acquire knowledge through hard work, preference for teacher-fronted activities, heavy weight on grammar and reading activities. However, quite surprisingly, the same students expressed their preference for what Willing (1988) calls “communicative” and “concrete” learning styles1, by rating on top places “I enjoy learning English by listening to foreign language speakers”, “I enjoy learning English by watching pictures, movies and videos”, “I like to learn English by talking in pairs”, and “In class I like to learn by conversations”.
Developing Communication Skills through Oral
Starting from the idea that university graduates will be involved in many international professional interactions during which they will have to present ideas and support them with facts, figures, reasons, it goes without saying that they need not only possess excellent professional qualifications and practical abilities, but also good English communication skills, in order to be able to present their point of view in an efficient, clear, fluent and well organized manner.
Oral presentation projects bring many benefits to the learners and the learning environment. Thus, they help students learn (while gathering information for their oral presentation projects the students acquire new information; they foster the learners’ autonomy and responsibility (the students choose the topic of their presentation, they gather information, decide on a pattern of presentation, design their visuals); c) they contribute to the building of a team spirit (the students work in small groups and the success of the project depends on everybody’s work); d) they foster the students’ creativity; e) oral presentation projects have a tangible end-product (slides, a poster, handouts); f) they offer a break from the usual class routine (the students go out into the world to gather information, administer questionnaires, interview people). As mentioned earlier, the implementation of oral presentations in the Romanian university I have been teaching at has not been a problem, although only few students had used this type of activity before. In Taiwan I was quite surprised to find out that students had already used project work in the form of oral presentations for other disciplines, as well as for English. My experience and the students’ attitude and behavior regarding the implementation of project work in Taiwan were completely different from the one recalled by King (2002) who claims that the idea of oral presentations is met with either silence or grumbles in Taiwanese universities.
In order to implement oral presentation skills in a nonthreatening manner, I had first a discussion concerning oral presentations with each group of students, bringing to the fore their past experience of such activities in school and university. This discussion led to the description of the main types of delivery (manuscript, memorized, extemporaneous and impromptu), with their pluses and minuses. An agreement was reached to use the extemporaneous type – a presentation which is planned carefully, but is not read or learned by heart. At this stage the number of students in each group (2-3), the type of end product (PP presentation) and the general theme (Science and Technology or Student Life in the case of Romanian engineering students and Our University or Celebrations in the case of Taiwanese students) were also discussed.
The next step consisted in approaching the aspects that were going to be graded: natural delivery (voice, rate of speech, eye contact, nonverbal and paraverbal elements), content (suited to the audience and time limit), organization (introduction, body, and conclusion), language (accuracy and fluency), and visual materials. Students were shown some short videos and were asked to write a series of guidelines for delivering effective presentations. At this point, both Romanian and Taiwanese students were made aware that such guidelines (especially those regarding nonverbal and paraverbal elements) are culture bound: while being true for Western culture, elements such as eye contact with the audience may not be (entirely) true for other parts of the world. The following step was choosing the presentation title, which had to be related to the time limit and to the characteristics of the audience. Having decided on the title, the students could pass on to the content of the presentation. I always underline the importance of a strong introduction, capable of creating common ground and drawing the listeners’ attention. The students were offered tips and examples on how to use various attention-getters – anecdote, startling facts and statistics, puzzling question, quotation from experts. I also stressed the importance of the conclusion and I offered my students various tips on how to end the presentation. As far as the organization of content was concerned, students could choose from among various patterns: chronological order, spatial order, topical order, classifying, explaining causes/effects, giving reasons, comparing/contrasting. In order to facilitate the intake, students were asked to complete various kinds of tasks. The final step consisted in devising a presentation outline and a final checklist against which the presentations were to be evaluated. The outline included: the speakers’ names, the topic, the pattern of organization, the main points and subpoints of the introduction, body and conclusion. The checklist, on the other hand, included: each speaker’s name, the topic and the aspects that should be taken into account: delivery, content, organization, language, visual aids.
Evaluating the Impact: Matches and Mismatches
In order to evaluate the impact of oral presentation projects, the presentations were video recorded. Some fragments were then selected and played during the next class. A discussion followed, during which the students pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the way in which their presentations were delivered. Table 1 below presents the strengths and weaknesses perceived by Romanian and Taiwanese students, respectively:
Table 1. Strengths and weaknesses in the delivery of oral presentations as perceived by Romanian and Taiwanese students



 well-organized (introduction, body, conclusion)

 in some cases the presentations were either memorized (Taiwanese students) or read (Romanian students)

 clarity of ideas

 in some cases the volume was not loud enough (true for both Taiwanese and Romanian students)

 good end-product (video clip/ or PP presentation)

 in some cases there was little or no eye contact with the audience (especially in the case of
Taiwanese students)

 presentations met time requirements

 some speakers made grammar mistakes, mispronounced some words or were not fluent enough (true for both Taiwanese and Romanian students)

2.2.English Communication Through Practical Experiences
Teaching English to a wide variety of students for more than thirty years has taught me that generalizations and stereotypical ideas concerning the way learning takes place is not nearly as important as it is for each teacher to discover the method of instruction or combination there of, which most matches his or her style with a group of students at a given time.1. Through the writing of this paper I will endeavor to share some teaching methods both inside and outside the classroom and how they can be beneficial to the practical task of communicating in English.

As a young person teaching English to underprivileged Mexican- Americans in rural Indiana I discovered these children were more concerned with the food that would or would not be on their table for lunch than with sitting quietly learning how to read a book. Since their parents worked on farms in the area for a few weeks or months, and then moved on to the next town or state these children knew the names of the places they had been and had quite an interest in geography. Teaching the correct pronunciation of a given town or state and learning how to spell difficult names became a real challenge that was not only enjoyable to teach but fun to learn. Another practical learning experience these students could build on was to learn the English names of the various crops their parents were working in. Their parents spoke very little English and had little time to learn besides what was absolutely necessary for their daily existence. The children were often required to interpret or explain an idea to the American farmers, so it was necessary for the children to be able to communicate at basic level

As is often true of immigrant families, the first generation only learns the most basic vocabulary and grammar but the children, if given the chance, will learn to function better in the new language than in their mother tongue. These children traveled from place to place nine months out of a year, so received very little formal education in the American public school system. Because of this they had very few skills in reading or writing. But the program I taught in was trying to get them into the educational stream and I was free to experiment with a variety of educational methods in order to teach the fundamental skills of language. I found that "hands on" language worked best. For example; one day we went to the zoo and as we looked at each animal I would give the animal and the children would repeat the name over and over until they could say them with precision. Another hands on tactic I used to teach food names and the use of money was to have a store in the classroom allowing the students to play both clerk and customer. Just to "play store" is never as good a learning experience as really going shop-ping. Giving each child a small amount of money and letting them go into a store freely to buy something can become a pivotal experience in the motivation for learning language. These are just a very few simple ways to make language learning enjoyable but ways to make the student feel he or she is communicating.

Teaching reading to second language learners should usually come after some exposure to the spoken language. Hearing and speaking a language is usually learned at a faster pace than reading is. I can remember when I was studying Japanese five hours a day, five days a week and having a very difficult time learning to communicate, My children were six and eight years old at the time and everyday they would spend time playing with the neighbor children. They would come back at night with more new vocabulary words than I had been able to learn in a week. Not only did they learn vocabulary words but they learned how to live and speak in the language. Of course I went to language school for two years plus made friends with the neighbors and began to live the language little by little, but I will never be as skillful in Japanese as my children are. Therefore, students learning a foreign language need practical language, such as speaking and experiencing culture before they need theoretical language, such as; reading and writing.2 But that is not to say that they don't need both. I feel that sometimes we teachers are so excited to teach language skills that we forget to teach students how to communicate.3 With the big class size that most schools have, it is easier to teach reading or translation than it is to give students the time to develop a discussion or a conversation in order to communicate. Therefore students who want to learn how to communicate go to language schools and spend extra money on things that should be taught in school. Without practical learning both in and out of the classroom learning how to live and communicate in a given language will never take place.4

One experience I vividly remember happened after having lived in Japan about four years. By that time we had assimilated in both the spoken and the cultural areas of the language. One day I went to the station to meet a couple who had just recently arrived in Japan. I could see them waiting by the side an. motioned for them to come. With my hand I put my fingers in a downward position and moved them back and forth. This gesture means "come here" in Japanese but this same gesture in the U. S. is a greeting. Therefore they waved to me as if to say "hi" and stood waiting until I could drive to the point where they were waiting. I didn't realize the reason they had not come when I had called to them with my hand gesture, but as we discussed the relationship between language and culture it came out that they had mistaken the meaning of my gesture for the American greeting. The mysterious part of this incidence is that I had not even realized I had used that particular gesture in a Japanese or American manner. It had just come naturally to me in that situation. If I were to have had that same experience in the United States I would have naturally used a different gesture with the same meaning because the setting would have been an American one. If a second language learner only learns to read and write a language without the speaking and cultural learning that is so important he or she will never become proficient in the language. As this couple has often mentioned since that time, with just that one experience they learned how to say "come here" and have never made that mistake again. They could have read how to say it in a book and spent time memorizing the way, but in just five or ten seconds that aspect of language was imprinted on their brain forever. Not only is it important to use practical ways to learn spoken language but also to learn to read. Before coming to Japan I spent several years teaching English to native speakers who had learning difficulties. These students could speak English as well as native speakers, but they had trouble with their reading and writing skills. They also had difficulty with the input and output of language, such as; organizing their thoughts into complete ideas and expressing their ideas completely. I found that many of the techniques I used to teach these students language skills I have also used in teaching second language learners.

As I have written in a previous paper the use of video in the classroom is a powerful tool in helping break down language learning barriers that are often built up in Japanese students after years of studying grammar and translation. Most students that reach the university level in Japan have what we foreign teachers call "foreign language phobia" from all the detailed studying of grammar points or from all the long hours of detailed word for word translation of some very difficult passage that has nothing to do with everyday life.5 Showing a video with a theme that is relevant to student's lives can create a keen interest in language learning that will never be created from translating a passage or teaching an important grammar point. Having students record a conversation that they make with friends will often result in the use of current spoken language with a display of a different attitude on the part of the students. Of course there has to be preparation by learning the vocabulary for a given topic and by learning the grammar to be used in the conversation. But, by the time most students enter the university in Japan most major grammar points have already been taught without the teaching of true communication. Everyone learns language by speaking and living it, and without these two vital components it just becomes an exercise in gaining knowledge without it becoming an active part of the person's life.6 Recently when assigning students to small groups to prepare a conversation to take place at a restaurant I noticed how eager they were to begin their preparations. The following week the class was all a buzz with noise and laughter as if they were excitedly waiting to perform. When each group took its turn it was obvious they were having fun trying to communicate not only with words but with gestures and facial expressions. One group even brought donuts to serve to the entire class after they had performed their conversation in a make believe "Dunkin Donuts". We all laughed when certain students would swagger like a typical American or someone would say some current slang that was particularly appropriate to the situation. Real learning was taking place in a very natural way. When I thought about why this kind of assignment is so much more successful than simply reading a conversation about a restaurant in terms of teaching language, I came to the conclusion that these students had seen English-speaking restaurant scenes innumerable times on T. V. and on the movie screen and could feel comfortable emulating what they had seen and making it their own language.

Going outside the classroom to learn a foreign language is also vital to the practical learning component. In the past few years I have been experimenting with taking students abroad for short periods of time to live the language. Even for short periods of time (two weeks each) these times have been intensive in that they have included immersing the students in English with home stays and spending the majority of the time with people who do not speak any Japanese. The first trip was to the States where English is the native language, but the second trip was to Thailand where English is a second language as it is in Japan. The students who went on these trips were first through fourth year students with varying degrees of English ability. Some were English majors but there were students from most departments at both the Women's junior college and the University. In preparation for each of the trips I taught an intensive ten week course in basic English including the culture of the country. When students think they will have a chance to speak and live the language the interest in learning increases significantly. The students prepared reports on the culture and presented them in Japanese, but with many English references in regards to names of people and places. Because I am from the States it was much easier to prepare the students for the trip to the States, but on the other hand I had to study about Thailand in order to be able to teach about its culture which made the students and myself on an equal level. I feel this added to the students' zest in their preparation because we were all learners. Preparation for trips such as these is very important and the extent to which students involve themselves in this determines whether they have a positive or negative learning experience.

The trip to the States began with a two day stop in San Francisco and a side trip to Yosemite National Park with a Japanese guide. This gave the students time to get over the shock of being in a country where Japanese is not spoken and to adjust their ears to hearing English spoken naturally. They then flew on to Chicago where they spent the rest of their time. Each host family agreed to keep two students making the students feel more comfortable. More learning will usually take place if only one student stays with each host family, but on the other hand some students can become frightened that no learning takes place and there is two weeks of silence. This is where it is important for the teacher to know each student extremely well and make that judgment carefully. One male student in my group requested staying alone with a host family and he was able to use his English significantly more than the others who stayed in pairs. Besides spending time with the host families I also set up a program at Judson College to have the students take part in the orientation for new students that is held at the beginning of a new school year. Although not all of it was appropriate I was able to choose what I felt the students would benefit from, such as; a karaoke party, roller skating, a boat ride, etc. The things that were most appropriate were those in a relaxed atmosphere where students could have fun trying to communicate with one another. Although the lectures on American college life, on how to study in the library, and on college financial aid were irrelevant for our visiting students, so I did not have them take part in those meetings. I also took the students to restaurants, the bank, shopping, sightseeing, etc. where they had to use English in order to meet their daily needs. Of course they made many mistakes, but they learned much more from this type of experience than they could ever learn in a classroom in Japan.

The trip to Thailand was different but the same kind of learning was experienced from being able to live the language in yet another setting. The students were exposed not only to English but to Thai and Karen language, Even though there were two other languages besides English the students never confused the two. They learned greetings and partings in Thai and Karen but for the most part used English as the main form of communication. They were very surprised that Thai people can speak English quite flue Tribal people speak two other languages besides English generally. Before we went to Thailand the students were worried about communication because Thailand is an Asian country like Japan and they couldn't imagine English would be widely used, When we arrived at the airport in Chiang Mai they were shocked to see Thai and English words written in the advertisements. They were also worried whether they could understand another second language learner's English pronunciation. I had been to Thailand previously and had no trouble understanding their pronunciation for the most part, but I am a native speaker and accustomed to hearing English spoken by second language learners. Therefore I had no idea whether they would find it difficult to understand the Thai's pronunciation of English or not. The students were greatly relieved to discover they could understand their pronunciation quite well because they speak more slowly than a native speaker. They relaxed and began to show a confidence in their speaking ability I had never seen before.

On our first night in Thailand we were invited to a dormitory for students from the Karen Hill Tribe. The students were approximately the same age as the Japanese students and dressed in tribal dress as our students dressed in yukata. As we arrived at the dormitory I could feel the tension building in our students but little by little as the Karen students began to ask questions in English our students answered quite adequately. The Karen students, using English, asked how to say simple phrases in Japanese making the Japanese students relax and before the evening was over the two groups of young people developed a lasting bond. As we left I could hear the tearful good byes being said from relationships having been made in English, a second a second language for both groups of students. This was truly an interesting phenomena and proved to me that living the language is an important practical aspect towards the mastery of a foreign language

From this point on these students took taxis and went shopping on their own using English to talk to the taxi drivers and bargaining with the shop keepers in English very successfully. After they returned from their daily expeditions they would talk over what they had said and how much they had paid for things and how they had bartered in English with great pride in their voices. One group of students went to a Buddhist Temple and met some priests who spoke English very well. After talking with them for a period of time a young priest came out who spoke Japanese. At first the students were thrilled to meet a Thai who could speak Japanese, but later became disappointed because there was no need to continue talking in English. As I listened to them talk I thought how interesting this experience was for them and how they were becoming citizens of the world.6 Whether these students were in a country where English is the first language or in a country like Thailand where English is a second language they had come to experience English as an important part of their lives.

We were able to spend valuable time with some English-speaking expatriates who gave the students another unforgettable experience. In one group of expatriates the students were able to experience an Australian, English, Swedish, American, Myanmarese (formerly Burmese) and Japanese speak English with various accents. This could have been very confusing to them, but they enjoyed hearing the different pronunciations and experiencing the international atmosphere of this kind of group.

Probably the most meaningful experience of the trip to Thailand was a homestay that took place in a remote village in northern Thailand. Accompanying the students were two of us who could speak English and Japanese; one person who could speak English, Japanese and Thai; and one person who could speak a little English, Thai and Karen. We did not know if any of the village people would be able to speak English but we did know that no one would be able to speak Japanese. When we first arrived we were all nervous, even myself. We were introduced to the minister who could not speak any English. His greeting was translated into Japanese for us and then we were taken to the various homes to be introduced to the families we would be staying with. The home I stayed in included a large family of three or four generations. The patriarch did not speak English except for a few words which he was quick to use with us. He soon introduced us to his grandson who began to use a few halting phrases of English. Since I was the native English speaker and the teacher I somehow felt I had to translate for the students. But they soon let me know that they now had confidence in their English and began to ask questions and talk with the young man quite comfortably. They even went outside with him and were introduced to some of his young relatives. He had begun studying English four months previous to our arrival and already was able to carry on a conversation remarkably well. He was able to explain how we were to take our bath in the river and to tell us he would take us there but would return to his house 'to rest' while we bathed. He told us the names of most of the trees and plants in his garden except for one. That was the mango tree which he said he could not remember. The students were able to communicate with these people on a different level than I was able to do as a native speaker. The family talked with the students using very basic English, but communication took place and the students left the village with great compassion and love for the people.

The purpose of our trip to Thailand was two fold; to use English and to do volunteer work. The students prepared five children's Bible stories in English drawing pictures to illustrate the stories (kami- shibai, in Japanese). They spent many hours looking for the best words to use in the stories and then practicing the stories with voice intonation and appropriate expressions. They were able to perform all the stories at least twice and one time they even performed for English speaking children at an international church. Of course they were most nervous performing for the international children, but as I watched the children and listened to the students I was impressed with the improvement in their language skills in the short time we had been in Thailand and how they had begun to make the language a part of themselves. Our visit to the English language Church was at the end of our stay and by then I was able to see a transformation in the student's thinking and being. Their body movements had even changed and they walked with their heads held high and a confidence I had never previously experienced.

The first trip of this kind we had taken to the States and ended with the students returning to Japan while I stayed in the States for six months. Therefore, I was not able to see how the experience affected the student's lives after they returned to Japan, I wondered how the Thailand experience would effect their lives and language when they returned to Japan. It has been very interesting to watch the difference in the students who went and those who didn't go. Because only seventeen out of 60 members of "The Fellowship" went to Thailand they could have gone unnoticed but those who went are much freer to speak English when I meet them or talk to them by phone. 1 r also have taken more of a leadership position in the club and are much freer to express themselves, even in Japanese. Many of the students who did not go have noticed the differences also and have made comments like, "He's changed since he went to Thailand" or "What happened to him in Thailand".
In conclusion, it has become apparent to me that more than teaching methods or curriculum, a language must be experienced. This does not mean that grammar, reading, writing and speaking do not all need to be taught, but it means that along with these skills the language must be experienced before it can become a part of a person's being. In order for a person to be truly skilled in a language it must become a part of his or her being or in other words, a person must live the language. It is a great challenge, as a language teacher, to try to give students various kinds of opportunities to live the language, but it is also very rewarding to be able to see a student make English become a part of his or her being.
This paper has focused on the implications for teaching practice of the increasing number of English learners from outer or expanding circle countries and has advocated for a culture-sensitive methodology, capable of reconciling global demands of standardization and intelligibility with local socio-cultural factors. The author has described, analyzed and compared two different contexts of learning – Romania and Taiwan – with a view to share her experience of fostering the students’ communication skills by means of oral presentations. The last part of the paper has dealt with the concrete procedure used by the author in implementing oral presentation projects in the Romanian and Taiwanese context of learning, respectively.
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1 Willing (1988) distinguishes four main learning profiles: concrete learners, who like pictures, movies, videos, games, talking in pairs; communicative learners, who like to learn by listening to native speakers; authority-oriented learners, who like the teacher to explain everything, like grammar and reading; analytical learners, who like to read newspapers and study alone, working on tasks set by the teacher.

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