A letter to the teachers of English: 102Conversation skills (2) [Archives:2006/910/Education]

January 9 2006

PROF. M.N.K.BOSE [email protected]
Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb

Dear Fellow teachers,

I am sure you will agree with me when I say that one has to be careful while conversing with someone on the telephone, as you don't see the other person face to face. I have found conversing with my students whose English is not strong on the telephone difficult mainly because they misunderstand my expressions or the other way round. This shows that while conversing the gestures (movement of hands and head) and facial expressions also play an important role; telephone conversations often pose problems to some people because the gestures and facial expressions are missing. So, one has to be more careful, while conversing on the telephone, to make the massage understood by the other person; moreover, it is also important to see that the other person doesn't misunderstand you.

Use of gestures and facial expressions are a part of a conversation; over use of them may also create problems. One has to learn the art of conversation and as a part of it one has to acquire the art of using gestures and facial expression. The nodding of head, for example, is a part of conversation. But it differs from one culture to another; the westerners nod their heads while conversing with others in one way, which may be different from the way we nod our heads while talking to someone. Most of the gestures, I think, are culture bound and we acquire them along with our mother tongue. Very rarely do we face problems in interpreting the gestures of the people from other culture, but one has to be aware that the use of gestures is a part of effective conversation. Even within a culture, there are variations in the use of gestures, I think, between the old people and the young ones.

Facial expressions do play a crucial role in conversations; you can make friends or mar your relationship by your facial expressions. Face is the index of the mind, isn't it? Some of the elders are clever in reading your face while you are talking to them. While you attend interviews, for example, your facial expressions add to your personality. You should definitely be conscious of this factor while conversing. You cannot let your other worries overtake you while conversing with your bosses or students. It is difficult not to let the face express what is in your mind, but it is not impossible to control your facial expressions.

The purpose of introducing conversations in my letters hereafter is to help you, teachers of English, to enrich your conversation skills so that your conversations in English become healthy and meaningful. In addition, they will help you teach conversations effectively in your classrooms using the technique of role-playing. The students of English, I hope, will also find these conversations useful to them. As I have said in one of my letters, lack of conversation skills is a major obstacle for most of our students who are good at English, especially in the job market. I hope my attempt to present useful and day-to-day conversations in my letters will enable them to become more proficient in English. The idea of presenting them is to give you a start; as I said in the last letter, these are not natural conversations. After all, the classroom teaching itself is a drama where we play different roles, isn't it? Good luck.

Control your speech; it can bring good and evil.

Yours fraternally,