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Module 3: Speaking and Writing Contexts of Communication

What is in the centre of the diagram below?

The centre of the diagram can be seen as the letter B if the diagram is looked at from left to right. But it can also be seen as the number 13 if the diagram is looked at from top down. Thus, our interpretation of the centre figure depends on the numbers/letters which surround it. It depends therefore on the context.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll (Taken from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There)

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" Use the words surrounding the nonsensical expressions to figure out what a Jabberwock is.

What is Context?
The word context refers to the circumstances in which a situation takes place. The context of communication is the setting in which the communication process takes place. Communication derives much of its meaning from the context it takes place in.

For me context is the key - from that comes the understanding of everything. Kenneth Noland

The Communication Process


Message (Medim/Channel



Communication does not take place in a vacuum


Message (Medim/Channel



Context may involve: A physical location A relationship A time period A time of day Cultural norms and expectations

Contexts of Communication
There are 7 major contexts of communication: 1) Intrapersonal 2) Interpersonal 3) Small Group 4) Academic 5) Organizational 6) Public 7) Intercultural

Intrapersonal Communication
In intrapersonal communication, the sender is involved in communication with himself/herself internally. Examples: Thinking Daydreaming Imagining Meditation

Interpersonal Communication
In interpersonal communication, communication takes place between or among two or more persons on a personal level. Examples Conversations Interviews

Small Group Communication

In this context, communication takes place among a small number of people (ideally 4-6 persons). Communication in this context is categorized by equal sharing of ideas and a common goal. Examples Small meetings Casual gatherings

Academic Communication
This involves an academic situation or forum and the purpose of communication is related to academic matters. Examples Teaching Lectures Essays

Organizational Communication
This area involves communication within a formal, complex and multi-group setting. Involves working to achieve individual or collective goals.

Examples: Meetings

Public Communication
Communication which takes place amidst a public forum Examples Political rallies Public announcements Newspaper articiles Advertising through mass media

Intercultural Communication
In this context, there is the transmission of messages across senders and receivers of different cultural backgrounds. Examples Global conferences UN meetings Tour guiding

The Affect of Context on the Communication Process

The conceptualization and encoding of the message The selection of medium/channel The expectations of the persons involved in the communication process The disposition of the receiver and its effect on their decoding and interpretation of the message.