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Communication skills - trainer

Site: Digital Community and Innovation in Adult Education and Basic Skills
Course: Key Competences at Work: Trainer's book and Learner's book
Book: Communication skills - trainer
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Sunday, 21 July 2024, 5:19 PM

1. Introduction to communication skills

Communication is about using language in different situations, in different contexts, to different target groups, in different language style. Communication implies building relations and to convey a certain message. Communication means speaking and listening, reading and writing and using digital tools. The main goal is to be understood and to understand what is being said and what is written.



 



This module is organised in topics that presents strategies to trainers on how to develop communication skills followed by subtopics that presents how the learner can develop these skills.

The content is divided into Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and Digital tools.

It is recommended for the learner to start with self-assessment of their communication competences in general to have an overview of their possible challenges.


2. Reading

Reading means to create meaning from text on paper or screen. Reading means not only a technical ability to read, but also to understand the meaning of text, the content. It also means to comprehend, reflect, and reflect critically. Competences in reading texts also indicate to understand texts in broad sense, not only verbal texts, but also illustrations, graphs, symbols and other modalities and the functions of these modes of expressions. 

open book  


Reading competences means:

  • read screen and paper texts critically and in an independent manner 
  • can ask questions and talk about the content of texts
  • seek information of different kinds
  • be acquainted with new routines or working tasks 
  • understand daily messages from colleagues and leader
  • understand the purpose of a text
  • understand complex sentences and difficult words and expressions 
  • use different reading strategies relevant to text types and purposes
  • understand texts of different modalities, like illustrations, graphs, pictures and symbols.


Activity:

What is the most often used texts in the workplace? 

Choose a text relevant to assumed competences in reading to the learner, the age and gender, work experiences, background and ethnicity (Text of Human Resources (HR) can be an example).  


Reading aloud: Start with learners reading the text aloud. Is it fluent or staccato? Staccato reading can indicate challenges in understanding words, sentences or part of text. 

Let the learner summarize the content of the text. Did s/he understand the content?

 

Discuss with the learner possible challenges in the text as words and expressions, sentences or paragraphs. 


Important information: Distribution of information in texts can be relevant. Explain the structure of important information at paragraph-level and in sentences. 


The key information in paragraph is always in the beginning of a paragraph. We describe this as thematic sentence(s). The rest of the paragraph usually explain/exemplify/give reasons for these opening sentences. 


The key information in sentences is usually in front/beginning of a sentence. We describe this as focus in the sentences.  


Activity: 

Ask the  learners to read the text. Learner shall pay attention to thematic sentence(s) in paragraph and to focus in sentences. Check if this do understanding of text content more easily.  


Vocabulary in professional texts is characterized by specific professional words/terminology and expressions probably unknown to learners. 


Activity: 

Ask the learners to make a note of these words and expressions. Explanations of such words and expressions can be done in several ways; by showing concrete examples, by synonyms, by drawings, by explanations in simple words etc. 


Make sure that spelling and pronunciation are correct. Check understanding of these words/expressions by repeating. 


Activity: 

Assess learners understanding of words/expressions by using/reading these in new texts (write, and rewrite, pronounce, say out loud, use them in texts, get feedback). The aim is to develop vocabulary.


Activity: 

Find another text on paper, combined with illustrations; graphs etc. 

Let the learner read the text. 

Check the understanding by letting the learner orally retell/repeat the content, and explain different modalities. 

Ask the learner where in text s/he find the important information. 

Ask the learner to formulate the purpose of the text.

Check the reading strategies.

(Activities related to reading texts on screen and Internet, see topic “Digital tools”)




3. Writing

Writing in workplaces is to communicate in written form to different target groups. Writing competence indicate to communicate with different purposes, to different target groups, in different style and genres. Writing requires competences in text structure, in sentence formulation, in use of appropriate words and expressions and competences in correct formal and generic use of language as grammar, spelling and punctuation. 


Self-assessment: Carry out self-assessment to target learners about writing competences.


Aims of writing competences:

  • adjust and be aware of writing to different target groups
  • master different writing style and text genres
  • use words and expressions suitable for text purpose
  • write complete and understandable sentences
  • write without mistakes in punctuation and spelling
  • can express in written form one’s own opinions and express personal experiences
  • can argue (for and against) and give reasons for one´s own professional standpoints in written form 
  • can reflect and assess one´s own learning in written form


Model text: Pick a text from your workplace and use this as a model of how to write a coherent text (an example for healthcare or catering). Pay attention to different levels of text and let learner answer these questions:

a) What type or genre is it? (report, minutes, instruction)

b) What is the purpose or main idea of the text and how do you find it? 

c) Who are the target group(s) of the text?

d) How many paragraph are there in the text?

e) Where in the text do you find important information?

f)  Identify subject and verb in some sentences.

g) What is the first word/opening word in sentences?

h) How do the text use punctuation marks?


Ask learners to compare their own awareness of text formation with fellow-workers.


Genre/text-type: When writing, awareness of type of text or genre is important. Choose a genre that correspond to a certain intention or purpose of communication. For instance, a minutes which is an extract of a longer original text (oral – from a meeting, or written from an article/information letter) has a different structure than an invitation to a meeting. The structure of a text is very much decided by genre. 


Activity: 

Get learners to compare two different texts from the workplace and ask them to describe the differences in structure.  

 

Purpose: When writing a text, it is important to have the specific purpose in mind. Make sure that learners articulate this purpose clearly in the beginning of the text. Different purposes can for instance be to inform, to summarize, to describe (a working process), to invite (to a meeting, celebration), to make a working plan, to make a reference or certificate.    


Activity: 

Ask learners to write a summary/minutes of their last attendance in a meeting at job. Where do they put the purpose of the meeting?


Target group: The style of writing must correspond to receiver, audience or target group of text. To write a note to a good colleague is something different from to write a letter to a top leader in community. The challenge is to write a formal text to a more or less unknown recipient. This demands a clear purpose and content, a correct use of language and grammar, correct sentence formulations and appropriate expressions and words. In sum, the text and use of language must be as correct as possible without any errors, failure or incorrectness.  


Activity: 

Ask learners to write a short text to two different target groups; a colleague (formal) and a very good friend (informal). Identify the differences in expressions and use of language, related to the recipients.  


Text organizing: To organize the content of a text, is very much depended of the genre. A minutes from a job meeting, is organized different from a report of a patient in a healthcare institution or a report form a challenging situation in catering. We will present some principles of organizing a report. A report must contain and answer three issues: What happened? How did it happened? Why did it happened? Furthermore, we also have to answer: What did we do with it? 


The most important issues is the coherence and logical structure in text. To emphasize this, use features, words and expressions that underline the coherence, such as first of all, at first/firstly,  therefor, in addition, second, in sum, over all, to conclude, in spite of, thereby… 


Information  structure is about where in text you put the most important information, and less important information. A basic rule is to put the most important information first in text, in a paragraph and in sentence. 


Paragraph: A text is organized in paragraphs. A paragraph contain a separate issue, a theme, an argument. When starting a new thematic issue, this is marked with a new paragraph. 


Sentence:  What makes a text good and coherent, is very much depended on how sentences are formulated. Some basic rules are to be followed: Variation in opening (first word/s) of sentences. Variation between short and long sentences. Variation in complete sentences with and without subordinate clauses included. Variation in use of included subordinate clauses. 

And at last: A sentence is connected to the former sentence. This can be done by using words like: Therefore, on hand, on the other hand, thereby, when, because, That, This, …


Punctuation: How we use punctuation gives meaning to a text. In formal work-based texts, avoid exclamation mark and many full stop marks after each other. These marks express feelings and personal attitudes, which is not quite appropriate in formal texts. However, ro use punctuation correct is important in work based text communicating with different target groups.

      

Activity: 

Ask learners to write a report from a situation, an experience at work (catering or healthcare). Follow the notes above. Get learners to make a draft and encourage them to ask for feedback. Let them make a final text.   


4. Speaking and listening

Speaking and listening are closely connected. It is about oral communication, or use of oral language. Speaking and listening is characterize on one hand, by spontaneous language use. However, it can also require formal and prepared use of language. In workplaces both informal, spontaneous and formal oral communication is a part of daily work.  

Self-assessment: Carry out self-assessment to target learners about competences in speaking and listening.   

Aims of speaking and listening:

  • be aware of and adjust communication to the communicative context and situation
  • adjust the language use to audience or target group
  • develop ability to speak or make presentations at meetings, and formal gatherings
  • learn speaking strategies for speaking on spot
  • learn strategies for turn-taking in discussion and conversation
  • use conversation to promote own and others´ interests  
  • maintain focus and concentration when listening to others
  • be aware of listen in addition to hearing    

Be prepared and aware: Using language orally at workplaces often means to be prepare and be aware how to speak. Presentation at meetings or in formal situations demands awareness and preparation of language use in general. To be aware of to whom one address the speaking, the purpose of speaking and the content, is very important. 

Different styles and ways of communication: Oral speech must adjust to whether it is dialogue or monologue, short instructions, information, questions or discussions. Each form require in some ways different styles and expressions. In addition, to communicate orally, also require ability to communicate flexibly and effectively in known as well as unfamiliar settings. 

Politeness and clearness: Oral communication also require politeness and clearness in choice of purpose, words and expressions to avoid misunderstanding. 

Listening: Oral communication also implies listening to receive and respond on messages, information or instructions from colleagues, leaders, customers, patients or next of kin. Learn how to clear out misunderstandings and inappropriate intimidated feelings of any kind.  


Activity

Let learners study these videos, and analyze the way of speaking or communication between persons related to style, target group, expressions in general.

(language, in Polish, no subtitles, in order for the learner to try to imagine dialogue)

Give an assessment.


Activity: 

Let learners study a video related to work, where two or more persons communicate – but without sound. Ask learnersto write the communication phrases/utterances in the way they think it should be. Compare with a colleague.  


Activity


Get  learners to reconsider their last oral communication with a colleague, a costumer, a patient etc. Ask them if they could do this in a better way? How?

5. Digital tools

Digital tools require digital skills, and includes being able to use social media, smartphone, APPs, Internet and digital resources efficiently and responsibly, to solve practical tasks, find and process information, design digital products and communicate content. Every workplaces require ability to relate and use digital information. It is also required to have digital skills to be able to relate actively digital information and use this information in new settings and situations. 

digital tools icon

Self-assessment: Carry out self-assessment to target  learners about competences in use of digital tools. 

Aims for use of digital tools: 

  • read and interpret information from digital resources
  • read hypertexts 
  • navigate between different sources and do it critically
  • search and assess information from digital sources
  • use search tools and master search- strategies in subject related/professional tasks
  • produce and edit digital texts 
  • apply basic rules for protection of personal integrity on the Internet and social media
  • reflect ethically on Internet and social media as a communications and information channel.


Activity: Ask learners to write an email to a colleague about a work-related task/a message. Check the use of her/his mastering of keyboard. 

 

Activity: Ask learners to write a report of a working task, (report of a patient, customer etc). Check the writing style, use of spell-checker etc. What are the challenges?

 

Activity: Get learners to search information on Internet about a work-related issue: Notice processes of searching, use of sources, and critical attitude of information. What are the challenges? 

 

Activity: Ask learners to read a hypertext on internet, e.g. a text combining verbal use of language and different pictures, graphs and texts of different kind. Let learners find the main information and the purpose of different texts and hyperlinks.