Communication Skills and Multiple Intelligences: A Communicative Teaching Approach

Communication Skills combines all core English skills into one course of study: reading, writing, grammar, plus listening and speaking. Students are required to produce speeches, with visual aids, to demonstrate mastery of four specific topics in both Communication Skills I and Communication Skills II. But, how do you get students who are mixed-ability and of varied initiatives to learn new language, and use such to write speeches they will give in class? And, furthermore, how does one prepare them to talk about theirs, and others’, projects in a conversation setting? According to Dr. Olenka Bilash, of the University of Alberta in Canada (2011) “Communicative competency is the correlation between fluency and accuracy and refers to the ability of a speaker to communicate effectively in the language; this ability is based on more than just grammatical knowledge and the concept is derived from the general desire of language learners to be able to communicate proficiently, not to use the language exactly.” _________ __________ College students are learning traditional grammar-translation in Prep Year Writing, Reading and Grammar. Listening and Speaking requires listening to audio for comprehension and note-taking. Prep Year Program Quiz and Major Exam schedules require strict pacing schedules and attention in the classroom for Writing, Reading and Grammar, in particular. Listening and Speaking leans toward communicative competency in that students are required to talk on given subjects. However, Prep Year Program Quiz and Major exam schedules require more listening than talking in the strict Prep Year classroom. Having taught all four skills at __.U.C. and previous academic settings, I decided to fashion Raina Foster- Bichara’s Communication Skills curricula into an adjunct of the four Prep Year skills: enhancing what students must learn to pass PYP and go into Bachelor’s, while improving their ability to talk in

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

English (L2) for specific purposes as well as relate reasons for their choices and preference of others’ talks. Most Communication Skills students say they are afraid to speak English in public, and take the course for that reason: to get over their fears. They must produce speeches on four topics at each level: “All About Me,” “Around the World: Travel,” “My Ideal Cell Phone,” and “Fashion Consultant” (for 001). 002 students are required to present on “My Future Goals,” “How to . . .,” “Persuasive Speech,” and “News Report”/”Talk Show.” A required CONVERSATION component has been added to enhance students’ abilities to sell themselves and their ideas to future employers. They must learn to think and communicate in English to successfully complete both courses. That’s where Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences” theory comes into play. The average L2 student does not think well when consciously processing the new language. Vocabulary targets and Language forms must be “input” in ways that allow students to absorb and re-produce according to given contexts. Gardner published his theory in 1983, (Wikipedia) postulating that people are usually tested for logical and mathematical reasoning on standard IQ tests; but, that educators must expand teaching approach to tap into the other intelligences that allow people to learn. (pbs.org) Gardner identified, initially, eight intelligences demonstrated in his study subjects – which, when stimulated, allow students to take in and process new knowledge in a better way than through traditional logical/mathematical input methods. It is up to the instructor to find, and use, different methods and activities to “reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistical and logical intelligence.” (ibid) It’s similar to differentiated instruction, in that it presents learning targets in fashions more suitable to individuals learning styles. A trip to the park would be a great place for a Naturalist, or Nature Smart, student to best absorb a lesson on plants and insect life. Intrapersonal, or Self Smart, people can apply self-analysis and

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

self-study skills to learning a new language. Music Smart students will do well with songs requiring cloze (gap-fill) exercises; whereas Interpersonal students will do well with group projects requiring discussion and cooperation (as long as you can be sure they’re speaking in L2, and not about parties and social life in L1!). Visual/Spatial learners use diagrams and pictures to best process information and Bodily/Kinesthetic learners may excel with Total Physical Response language input, as well as opportunity to write at whiteboard. Existental intelligence (Deep-Question Smart) was later added to Gardner’s initial eight intelligences. (op cit) The possibility of defeat is ever-present in the minds of these students, who fear they cannot produce the required products intelligently. However, a “Multiple Intelligences” approach is applied to make students forget about their fears by engaging all of their senses during various phases of “input” in a fashion that duplicates the way they initially learned their “Mother Tongue”: through watching, and listening to, the adult speakers around them; by touching, and learning the names of things that they touched; as well as what was tasted and smelled. Finally, using body and body language to demonstrate emotions and learning proper words for such. Authentic materials can be used to engage logical, visual, musical, and kinesthetic learners – separately, or in tandem – when learning new English language. I like to use dialogues to teach language for personal and business introductions. Students learn pronunciation and meaning through initial readings, and demonstrate comprehension through role-plays before their classmates. This encourages verbal/linguistic and musical learners, as there is a certain rhythm involved in initial group repetitions and role-plays. In addition, role-play involves motion and gestures for kinesthetic learners. Students, additionally, make the language their own by writing original dialogues – with a partner – on the same theme; then role-play before their peers. This increases their speaking and listening

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

confidence, as new words are being used by themselves and classmates. Worksheets requiring criticalthinking applications stimulate logical/mathematical learners. After language and language targets are effectively “input,” it’s time for students to put together all that they’ve learned into a product, called a presentation. Again, authentic materials -appealing to “multiple intelligences” -- help them to make choices in language that each student can personalize and incorporate in individual presentations. For example, for their “How to . . .” presentations, __.U.C. Comm Skills II students are shown a video of a Japanese family making Sukiyaki; then, given the task to describe what they are seeing, using vocabulary and language they have prelearned: sequence words, imperatives (for giving directions). To learn the concept of what is a Persuasive Speech, these same students are shown a video of the British Prime Minister addressing his public on a newspaper scandal. Everyone loves scandals, so the topic gets and keeps the attention of the students, while they observe his body language, facial expressions and language choices in line with “Monroe’s Motivated Sequence”: a five-step organizational tool for persuasive speeches developed by a Purdue University professor in the 1930s, and still widely-used today. Language and concepts can be input for visual and audio learners using more authentic materials – in this example, for descriptive language. Word cards can be employed for sentence and conversation building; engaging spatial-, kinesthetic-, and existential-learning students. Here’s an example of what the students see and hear, then describe for class work – before presenting their own “How to . . .” speeches: they must give the name of what is being prepared, the occasion, materials used, and directions: using sequence words, food vocabulary, and imperatives.

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

The “Authentic Material” provided in the David Cameron speech was initially made two summers ago, but is relevant, still, because his government is continuing to grapple with the fallout from that phone hacking scandal. Students must follow a script, and later analyse it to identify the five distinct steps in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: Attention, Need, Solution, Visualization, and Conclusion. Again, they are listening, seeing, and analyzing – engaging visual and existential intelligences for input. Intrapersonal and logical intelligences allow students to make decisions about what it is he is persuading his audience to do: trust him to solve the problem. This video you’re about to see introduces communicative language for descriptions: what is natural speaking in a natural setting. These various authentic materials are classified as literature because they raise students’ “consciousness about the way language is used in everyday discourse.” (Ellis, 2009) Dr. Ellis, who is big on task-based teaching, which naturally incorporates multiple intelligences, says there are three ways of viewing literature: as text, as discourse, and as communication. Textual studies allow students to recognize deviations in rules as well as patterns in language – which can be incorporated into their L2 conversations. Literature for discourse allows the student to compare the way language items are used; as well as understand language significance when used in different contexts. Authentic materials aid communication by requiring critical thinking, as students resolve the nature and purpose of language choices in an exercise as simple as filling out a form, then writing a paragraph about oneself. (ibid.) This instructor’s assessment of students’ products involves looking for the same elements used during vocabulary and language input: exhibition of multiple intelligences appealing to the senses of the audience for its acceptance. Worksheets are used to aid and assess language and grammar input. Exercises, such as using appropriate language to describe the Sukiyaki video, are considered “indirect

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

assessment,” (op cit) as students must successfully relate what must take place, in sequence, to prepare the Japanese Sukiyaki. Leading up to presentations, pre-tasks include closed assessments. (op cit) Presentations are, by their nature, opened assessments, in that there are a variety of ways in which students can produce and present final product.(ibid.) “Multiple Intelligences” applications for Communication Skills 001 and 002 allow instructors’ flexibility in choosing language/product targets. This instructor employs written dialogues, whereas another instructor may choose to engage her students in conversations for language input. The decision to use authentic materials is also subjective: these instructional decisions are influenced by student ability levels and overall group response to such input. “Communicative competency is made up of four competence areas: linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic.” (Bilash) Thus, Communicative competency is the ability to understand, and be understood, in the target language. Conversation encourages listening and critical thinking to respond to questions, as well as others’ answers, about work, and projects, completed during the semester. Students must explain their topic choices and decisions for presentation; as well as state their preferred presentations and why. Native- and fluent-English instructors are engaged as interlocutors to guide the conversations involving students to think and speak in L2. This exercise is preparation for a FINAL CONVERSATION assessment, which is graded by instructor; but, facilitated by native- and fluentEnglish instructors. Each interlocutor has her own style of speaking and eliciting students’ confidence and conversation: which flexes students’ muscles and self-confidence in L2. The hoped-for result is fluidity and automaticity (Ellis, 2009), fueled by “multiple intelligences” input that recreates the way

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

students naturally learned their native language: listening, seeing, hearing, touching, moving about, and repeating what they have learned, in L2-English, in an intelligent fashion.

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

References
Bilash, Dr. Olenka S.E. Best of Bilash: Improving Second Language Education, University of Alberta (2011)
(http://www2.education.ualberta.ca/staff/olenka.Bilash/best%20of%2Obilash/dr.b%20bio.html)

Ellis, Rod , 2011 2nd International FLLT Conference
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v-MywEeDGJ3dY&feature=player_detailpage)

Ellis, Rod. Corrective Feedback and Teacher Development. L2 Journal, Volume 1 (2009), pp. 3-18 (eScholarship – University of California)
(http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/2504d6w3)

Jabbarpoor, Shadab. 2011 International Conference on Languages, Literature and Linguistics (IPEDR vol.26 (2011)
(http://www.ipedr.com/vol26/45-ICLLL%202011-L10056.pdf)

PBS.org, Educational Resources: Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelliences Theory
(http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html)

Wikipedia, Theory of multiple intelligences, (Last updated 4 June 2013)
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences)

Presented by: Shelia Ann Peace Prep Year English and Communication Skills Instructor

For: Faculty Development Seminar _____________ College-Female Branch 9 June 2013

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