• Sensitising students to communicative behaviour
• Leading students to communicate effectively
Pivotal to Social Behaviour 1
From the moment we let out our ﬁrst cry to let mother know we
were hungry to our most recent conversation, we all communicate
all the time. When we listen to
someone we grasp what
is communicated to us
Think by that person.
When we speak, we
Let’s take you down memory lane. Try answering these questions. communicate something
1. Who was your best friend in your childhood? to our listeners.
2. Which qualities of that friend do you still remember? Listening and
3. When you were together, who spoke more—you or your friend? speaking are two
4. Did your friend say funny things? Did he/she make you laugh or was he/she seri- important aspects of
5. Do you remember his/her birthday? Are you in touch with him/her still? When we read we
understand what the
author is trying to
Now, on the basis of your answers to these questions, write in a couple of lines communicate to us.
why we maintain some friendships life long and not bother about others. Share
your answer with your partner. When we write we
communicate to the
........................................................................................................................................ readers our thoughts,
........................................................................................................................................ feelings or some
........................................................................................................................................ information that we
believe is to be shared.
Reading and writing are
more evolved methods
People who have good friends are perhaps good communicators also. Man today uses of communication.
some skills that he has learned to communicate. What do you think they are? Think or
talk to your partner and write your response.
Before Language Evolved 2
All knowledge in the world is useless if you can’t communicate in
a way people can understand what you have to say.
How do you think people communicated before language evolved? Share your
answer with the class.
When the caveman created images on the walls, who was he trying to communi-
cate with? Can you guess?
Man is different from animals only because he is able to communicate more complex
5 Before Language Evolved
thoughts. A dog can shake its tail vigourously to let its master know how happy it is.
Animals can mourn, express displeasure and happiness or sadness but certainly cannot
understand or express complex thoughts.
Animals express feelings
Read this passage and complete the sentence that follows.
but not thoughts or
Most animals use “body language” as well as sound and smell to communicate. Many ideas.
animals communicate by smell. They release pheromones (airborne chemicals) to
send messages to others. Pheromones play an important part in reproduction and other Well, now we know
social behaviour. They are used by many animals like insects, wolves, deer, and even what differentiates a
humans! Communication is so important that even the amoeba (an organism made up man from an animal.
Given this ability to
of a single cell) communicates with other amoebas by chemical discharge. Bees dance
communicate, it is a
when they have found nectar. The scout bee will dance in the hive, and the dance di-
complete waste of
rects other bees to the location of the nectar. Chimpanzees greet each other by touch-
a gift if we do not
ing hands. Male ﬁddler crabs wave their giant claws to attract female ﬁddler crabs. sharpen our skills of
White-tailed deer show alarm by ﬂicking up their tails. Dogs stretch their front legs communication.
out in front of them and lower their bodies when they want to play. Elephants show
affection by entwining their trunks. Giraffes press their necks together when they are
attracted to each other. Gorillas stick out their tongues to show anger. Communica-
tion abilities in most animals can be further developed if they are taken into better
environments. Animals living in a circus have better communication skills than those
living in most homes, because they are exposed to an environment that offers new op-
portunities for both learning and training on a continual basis.
Reading this, do you believe that communication skills ...............................................
What Is Communication? 3
Success is the result of recognising the role communication plays
in putting knowledge to work.
Communication is the exchange of information or ideas between two or more people.
It is the act of expressing thoughts in a manner that others understand. This clearly
shows that successful communication can only take place if the listener has under-
stood what the speaker has meant. If the meaning of what is communicated is lost
between the speaker and the listener, it could mean:
• either the person who spoke was a bad communicator.
• or the listener has not sharpened his listening skill which is crucial to effective
Read about how Tamizharasi’s father and Anbu’s father react under stressful
circumstances. Which family would you like to be a part of? Write the reasons
for your choice.
My father and mother both work in a local bank. My father is the manager of the
branch and my mother is a cashier. One Saturday afternoon, I happened to hear my
parents deep in conversation. My mother did not look very happy. My father was say-
ing, “I understand how you feel, Valli. If I were in your place, probably I would have
felt the same way too. However, I would like you to consider just this. Velavan has
worked in this bank for seventeen years. He is not too bad an ofﬁcer either. He can’t
understand how someone who has only thirteen years’ experience can be promoted.
7 What Is Communication?
Everyone else knows that the Regional Manager promoted you because of your excel- Communication is a skill
lent communication skills and the way you handle difﬁcult customers. Probably deep that most human beings
in his heart, Velavan knows it too! It is his disappointment which has made him say acquire in different
degrees of effectiveness
that you have been promoted because you are my wife! Forget it and forgive him. Let’s
in the course of life.
go out and celebrate. Cheer up.”
Although most people
are born with the
ability to talk, not many
It was my brother’s birthday. My father forgot about it because of some problems at people master the art of
work. When he got home, my mother took him aside and reminded him of my brother’s effective communication.
birthday. I think my father was guilty and to cover his guilt he shouted at my mother, Basic communication
“Don’t feel so great that you were the one who remembered Raju’s birthday. I haven’t skills can be learnt by
forgotten either. I have ordered some cake and ice cream. Only I had so much to carry observing other people
and modelling our
already, I thought I would go back and pick it all up later.” When my father walked
behaviour on what we
out again, all of us knew that he had indeed forgotten that it was his son’s birthday. I
see. The environment
wonder how Raju felt. If Father had gracefully agreed that he was caught up in some
that a person grows
work and explained to my brother, it might have turned out to be a better evening. up in contributes
a lot to developing
communication skills in
1. Do you think good communicators stop to think before they speak? an individual. However, it
2. Is choosing your words carefully before saying something important? is not difﬁcult to acquire
3. How would you have reacted if you had been in Anbu’s father’s place? good communication
skills if one focusses
attention on imitating
the behaviour of those
who have excellent
Where Does It All Start? 4
Communication starts way before words are spoken. However, the
moment you start speaking every word counts.
Work with your partner and study this situation.
Sita has to reach the community centre to attend an interview. She knows that she has
to ask someone the route to the community centre. Her mind wonders what the dis-
tance to the place could be, how long it might take to reach there and if she could use a
faster mode of transport than a rickshaw. Put together all these thoughts constitute the
ﬁrst stage of communication that the mind processes.
What kind of expression or body language would Sita exhibit at this stage? Tick your
Sita’s mind would also be scanning the crowd around her to decide on one person from
whom she could get the information she needs. This is the second stage of communica-
tion in this particular context.
What sort of a person would Sita choose? Talk to your partner and describe the
person that she might have chosen. Imagine the person’s gender, appearance,
clothing, age or expression that might have made Sita decide on him/her.
9 Where Does It All Start?
........................................................................................................................................ The process of
much before words are
Give reasons for your answer.
........................................................................................................................................ Mind is the primary
source that triggers
........................................................................................................................................ takes place as a
result of the silent
Food for thought communication that
the mind experiences
How do you think an artist communicates his/her thoughts? Look at this picture
with the environment,
and decide what the artist is trying to communicate.
the surrounding or
the people around the
Fixing Words to Thoughts 5
There is a well-established correlation between a strong vocabu-
lary and success. Only 3500 words separate the high vocabulary
person and the low.
Study these two deﬁnitions of communication with your partner.
“Communication is a process of passing information and understanding from one per-
son to another.”
“Communication is any behaviour which results in an exchange of meaning.”
Can you pass information without words? Of course, you can! A snigger, a frown, a
smile or a smirk express adequately the feelings of a person. However, words become
absolutely necessary to perform communicative functions like asking for or giving
Now Sita needs to ask for information to get to her destination, right? What will she
use to do so? Words! She needs to choose words with care to communicate effec-
Talk to your partner and write three different kinds of verbal communication
that Sita might use to get the information she is seeking. One has been given as
“Sir, could you tell me the shortest route to the community centre from here?”
11 Fixing Words to Thoughts
Study the three constructions of sentences you have come up with your partner.
1. Were they polite? What tools of politeness had you included?
2. Will it communicate to the person Sita approached exactly what she was looking
3. Will the person she approached be inclined to help her on being asked a question
such as the one you had structured?
4. Will your question position Sita among good communicators?
Share your sentences with the class and as a whole class choose the best communica-
tion that can achieve what Sita wanted. What were the common features of the best
communication? Perhaps these:
• clarity in expression
• succinctness and brevity
Now to conclude, we may say that Sita would close her communication in this context
with a “Thank you”.
Communicative Behaviour 6
Listeners have more friends than speakers.
Do you agree with this statement?
Active listening is the ﬁrst step towards becoming an effective communicator.
The person that Sita approached for information needs to be an effective communica-
tor too. Otherwise, Sita will not achieve what she wants.
Think of the time you approached someone for directions in a strange place you
visited. Did the person give you what you wanted correctly? What problems did you
notice in his/her communication? List them.
It is important for a communicator to be an active listener when spoken to.
An active listener:
• does not allow his/her opinions to block his/her mind.
• tries to understand the views of the speaker.
• analyses the speaker’s body language to understand what has provoked the speak-
er to say what he/she is saying.
Let’s analyse what kinds of thoughts will be passing through the mind of someone who
has been approached by a stranger for information. These thoughts have their origin in
the person’s cultural and social background too. Someone from a culture where talking
to strangers is not acceptable might cloud his mind with doubts and lose out on active
listening. As a result, Sita might have to repeat her question.
13 Reﬂecting on Communicative Behaviour
Recall the traits of an active listener.
Someone who has acquired effective communication skills is an active listener. He
will demonstrate the above-mentioned behaviour and help Sita to the best of his/her
Talk to your partner and write the communication you might have given if Sita
had approached you.
Model Behaviour 7
Many otherwise intelligent people fail to communicate their ideas
and thoughts effectively. It requires conscious effort and practice
to become an effective communicator.
Now let’s revisit the problems you had listed in the previous activity at the time
you approached someone for directions. Why do you think some people are able
to give directions so accurately while others mess it all up?
Most people are born Vocabulary is crucial to effective communication. Let’s think of the words we need to
with the physical ability give directions.
to talk, but we must
learn to communicate • Left
well. • Right
Well, we know all these word, don’t we? Then why do they fail us when we want to
direct someone clearly? An effective communicator pictures in his/her mind exactly
what he/she needs to verbalise and chooses the right words for the right task.
15 Model Behaviour
Read this: Our ability to
understand and express
“You are about a ten-minute walk away from the community centre. Go down this
verbal and non-verbal
road till you see a big red building with a board that says Primary Health Centre. communication is a
Immediately after that, you will see a road turning to the left. Take that road and after skill we develop in
crossing four or ﬁve buildings, you will see a road turning to your right. On that road, various ways. Education
the third turning to your left will lead you to the street where the community centre is does teach us some
located. The centre has a blue board but you might miss it if you don’t look carefully. communication skills
You will see a number of autorickshaws parked near the centre as there is an autostand directly. We can polish
these skills by practising
adjacent to the centre. Unfortunately, you can’t take an auto or any such vehicle as it
them and getting them
is one way from the other side.”
Do you think this person is a good communicator? Why do you think so? List
four aspects in his/her communication that you feel were effective.
Effective Communication 8
Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where you
renew your springs that never dry up.
—Pearl S Buck
Isn’t it true that all of us have some personal space deep inside us which we don’t
share with even those closest to us? That is the space which we can use to judge our
thoughts, actions, behaviour, attitude and everything connected to our personality. If
others judge us we get upset. If we judge ourselves, it can only result in improving all
aspects of our life.
This is a self-evaluation test. Be honest while answering and you can ﬁnd our for your-
self whether or not you need to improve your communication.
1. When someone contradicts what you say:
• you disagree immediately.
• walk away from the scene.
• try to see his/her point of view before asserting yourself.
2. When you do not know something you:
• admit that you do not know.
• pretend as if you know by saying something.
• behave as though the question is irrelevant.
3. When you have taken a favour from someone who is below your position you:
• smugly accept it as if it’s your prererogative.
• thank the person politely.
• just ignore the person.
4. When someone you know very well has a problem you:
• offer to help.
17 Effective Communication
• walk away as you know you can’t solve it.
• ask if he/she would like to talk about it.
5. When you know that you have done something your parents don’t approve of,
• apologise and explain to your parents.
• argue with them saying all your friends do it.
• resolve to never again do it and try ways to avoid temptation.
6. You feel your professor has undervalued your answer. Which of the following
expressions will you use to discuss this with your professor?
• Sir, what you have done is not fair?
• Sir, Nalini has got better marks than I have even though she has written three
• Sir, may I know how I can improve my answer so that I get better marks next
time? I was rather sure this time that I had written all the points in good lan-
7. Someone barges into the doctor’s ofﬁce out of turn when about six of you have
been waiting for almost an hour. Will you:
• shout at him?
• say, “Excuse me, we have all been waiting here for nearly an hour.”
• say, “Some people are blind. Nobody else exists for them except themselves.”
8. You need to convince your classmates that keeping your class clean is important.
Will you say:
• Don’t think this is your bedroom. This is a public place. Treat it with respect.
• You care so much for everything else I thought you will be the right person to
ensure that our class is clean.
• Can’t you be careful? You are littering things all around.
9. When a friend of yours is saying something absolutely incorrect, you:
• resist the temptation to interrupt.
• stop and say how wrong he/she is.
• let him/her ﬁnish what they want to say and then point out, “I think it is more
like this. Perhaps you got it wrong.”
10. When a shopkeeper doesn’t pay you any attention, you:
• storm out of his shop.
• try to understand what is keeping his attention away from you.
• create a scene and let him know how big a person you are.
This part deals with enabling the students to acquire the language
components required for effective communication. Unit 1 starts with the
unique sounds of the English language to practice on the different sub-
skills required for effective listening.
• Deﬁnition of Listening
• Types of listening
• Effective Listening
• Tips to effective listening
• Academic Listening
• Listening to talks and presentations
• Listening to Announcements (Railway/Airport/ Bus Stations/
• Listening to Radio and Television
Deﬁnition of Listening Skills 1
If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.
Research shows that forty-ﬁve per cent of our time is spent on listening to someone
or something. It is believed that while most of us speak at a rate of about two words
per second, we can hear and process more than eight words per second. This shows
that listening is easier than speaking provided we employ our skills usefully to achieve
better communication skills. We can use the time we save while listening for observing
other crucial tools of communication like the body language or facial expressions of a
person and try to detect the real intent of the speaker.
We need practice to cultivate the skill of active listening as we are not born with this
skill. Human minds tend to get distracted very easily and because of this we lose a lot
of valuable information which can turn things around for us.
Some people are good listeners because they pay attention to what they hear. They also
quickly scan the information and retain only that which is useful to them and discard
that which is not relevant to their lives.
Stephen Covey says that an average person listens to only one-third of the time he is
subjected to speaking by someone.
Evaluate your own ability to listen through this quick test.
1. How often have you missed a detail in a railway announcement and asked some-
one standing next to you, “Was that the Coimbatore Express they announced?”
21 Deﬁnition of Listening Skills
2. Do you get all the points your professor gives you on a particular topic at one go?
How many repeats do you need?
• I never get it at one go.
• I always ﬁnd out from classmates once again.
• I get it right away.
3. Is there anyone in your class who gets it at one go?
• some people
• all of us
4. What qualities must a person have to be able to get all the information required
at one go?
As children, listening
is the ﬁrst language
• attentive listening skill that we acquire.
• intelligence Listening is the
5. Do you manage to remember advertisement jingles better than poems? Why? basis for all other
• They are attractive.
Without listening there
• I relate better to them. will be no basis for the
• I do not understand how they are useful to me. other developmental
milestones in a human
Infer being, be it cognitive or
What is Listening?
Simply put, listening is the act of hearing attentively. Listening paves the
way for productive
A study by Wilt (1950) showed the following data reﬂecting the time an average liter- participation in life for
ate person spends on different communication activities: all human beings.
• Listening—45 per cent
• Speaking—16 per cent
• Reading—30 per cent
• Writing—9 per cent
This ﬁnding conﬁrmed what Rankin had found in 1928, that is people spent 70 per
cent of their waking time communicating and three-fourths of this time on listening
Going by this data, we are compelled to believe that listening is the most important of
all communication skills.
Communication Skills in English 22
Phonology is the Deﬁning Listening
pattern of speech
Many researchers believe that reading and listening make use of similar comprehen-
sounds used in a
sion processes. As in reading, listening also gets controlled by the same cognitive
Every language has its
processes using one’s knowledge of phonology, syntax, semantics and text structure.
own unique sounds. The Thomlison’s (1984) deﬁnition of listening projects active listening as crucial to effec-
last sound in the word tive communication. Active listening goes beyond literal comprehension and helps in
‘Tamizh’ is unique to
listening with empathy.
Something to Think About
Syntax refers to the
rules about how words Do you think English has its own special sounds? Discuss with your partner and
are connected to list one or two special sounds in English.
communicate meaning in
For instance, the ‘w’ sound in English is difﬁcult to articulate for a Tamizh speaker as
phrases and sentences.
Tamizh does not have a ‘w’. These peculiarities of different languages may interfere
Semantics is the study with effective listening if one does not understand the sounds related to the language
of words and their they are communicating in.
Text structure refers
to the semantic and
to present written
Empathy is the ability
to understand how
Types of Listening 2
There is so much communication going on around us that it is
very difﬁcult to decide what we should pay attention to.
What is the objective behind listening? Nobody will listen to anything if the matter
they listen to does not contribute to the improvement of his/her life. If you are visiting
a doctor no one needs to force you to listen to his instructions because you know very
well that you need to follow his advice to get well. Similarly, your ears perk up when
an announcement over the radio or the television comes up which imparts information
you were looking for. Active listening is most natural in these circumstances.
Many different types of listening have been identiﬁed by researchers. Read this
list and the descriptions. Check how many of these you indulge in your day-to-
Active listening is a
type of listening which
Whole-person listening involves understanding the speaker, his/her personality and demonstrates the
the meaning of the unspoken words and motive behind what is spoken. interest of the listener
and encourages the
Appreciative listening is a type a salesman very often indulges in. Here he looks speaker to continue to
forward to an opportunity to praise, making it obvious that he is in agreement with speak.
whatever the speaker might say, just to please the speaker. Listening to something for
appreciation and pleasure, such as to music, also falls in this category.
Attentive listening is easily noticeable on the eve of the examination when students
ﬂock to their teachers and listen to every word of what the teacher is saying. In such
circumstances, students listen carefully, showing immense attention.
Biased listening happens when a highly opinionated person hardly pays attention to
the speaker, having already made up his mind that he is right. In his opinion, the
speaker has very little to offer.
Casual listening occurs when a person hears something which is not really important
to him. There will be an obvious lack of interest and he may not capture much infor-
Communication Skills in English 24
mation from what is listened to in these circumstances.
Comprehension listening refers to the kind of listening where a person is just looking
for meaning but not interested in anything more.
Content listening happens in a situation where the listener is looking for meaning
without any need for seeking a deeper purpose to listening.
Critical listening is a type of listening where a listener seeks to evaluate, criticise or
otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
Deep listening helps a listener to understand people and their personality. This type of
listening also helps a listener to read between the lines and understand the speaker’s
hidden motives and intentions through unspoken words.
Dialogic listening encourages an exchange of words between two people as they want
clarity in meaning of what has been exchanged. This type of listening also tests un-
Discriminative listening happens when the listener is casual but is sensitive to a spe-
ciﬁc input like the sound of a baby crying or hooting of a car close by.
Empathetic listening is the kind which mature listeners are capable of. They make an
effort to understand the speaker, detect his feelings and through empathetic behaviour,
Evaluative listening is not positive listening as it is indulged in to evaluate, criticise
and judge others.
False listening is the type of listening that a person indulges in when he only pretends
to listen but actually switches off.
Full listening involves an attempt to understand as well as seek meaning.
High-integrity listening is a type of listening where a person listens from a position
of integrity and concern.
Inactive listening is very similar to false listening where he also spends time thinking
of something else.
Informative listening helps the listener scan for the information he is looking for.
Judgmental listening is listening in order to evaluate, criticise or otherwise pass judg-
ment on what someone else says.
Partial listening is listening for most of the time but also spending some time day-
dreaming or thinking of a response.
25 Types of Listening
Reﬂective listening examines what has been said by the speaker and then reﬂecting
Relationship listening nurtures and supports a relationship with the other person.
Sympathetic listening is listening with concern for the mental well-being of the other
Therapeutic listening helps in healing the speaker with the demonstration of sym-
Total listening is paying very close attention to what is said and getting the underlying
meaning by studying how it is said.
Whole-person listening involves understanding the speaker, his personality and the
meaning of the unspoken words and motive behind what is spoken.
Tips for Effective Listening 3
I’d rather keep quiet and let people think I am ignorant than open
my mouth to conﬁrm it.
Do you agree that many people we meet love to talk and hate to listen?
People are obsessed with what they would like to say. Everyone enjoys the idea of
talking in an informal gathering. It is not unusual to see people interrupting other
speakers to say what they are eager to say. If there is something that has to be said
and if a person is in possession of that information, he/she would rather say it than let
another person do so. The same eagerness, however, is not shown in listening. We have
to agree that there is a minority which is an exception. These people have mastered the
art or, should we say, skill of listening?
According to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, people think the voice-
mail they send is more important than the voicemail they receive. Generally, senders
of messages think them more helpful and urgent than do those who receive them.
• Most people love to talk.
• Very few people know how to listen.
• People are not born with the ability to listen effectively.
• Many don’t even think it is necessary to learn how to listen.
We can’t deny that listening calls for a lot of self-control. There are many situations
we ﬁnd ourselves in making it very difﬁcult for us to resist the temptation of saying
something. People believe that our mind works brilliantly when we keep silent for
sometime. Mahatma Gandhi knew it and that is why he refrained from talking for one
27 Tips for Effective Listening
day a week. He believed that silence energised his mind and made him think more
Many professionals like lawyers, bankers, auditors, jury members, army professionals
and press reporters should be extremely active listeners. It could be extremely detri-
mental to their careers if they miss out crucial points that could turn things around for
How Can We Enhance Our Skill of Listening?
Concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
Most of us have a tendency to worry about our next appointment, a relative who is ill
or our next deadline when we are listening to someone. There are times when half-way
through a lecture or a discussion, we realise that we have really not heard anything that
the speaker has said.
A telephone service provider gives the data that a normal speaker speaks at the rate of
175 to 200 words per minute. And, with average intelligence, human beings have the
ability to listen and process as many as 600 to 1000 words per minute. The brain has
a certain capacity. If the entire capacity is not used while listening for listening, then
the mind wanders to other anxiety zones in the brain. Every human being, at any given
point in time has a few anxieties, causing stress. If what one is listening to is not ca-
pable of absorbing the listener totally, the anxiety zone takes over and the mind begins
to think about it. Unused brain power is a hindrance to effective listening.
Yoga and meditation help us to improve concentration. Improving concentration is a
sure support in improving one’s ability to listen effectively.
Do not judge the speaker before he/she completes what has to be said.
Most people have a tendency to quickly form judgments about a speaker before they
have fully grasped the essence of what is being said. We do not have the time or fa-
cility to double-check our source of information for most things in life. We get some
information from a source and we believe that it is absolutely right. When a speaker
says something contrary to what we know, our ﬁrst reaction is denial. We lose some
information that the speaker is giving us in the process of denying acceptance. In
the meantime, the speaker has moved on and what he/she now says might be more
convincing and you are beginning to agree with him/her. However, you have lost valu-
able information with judgmental listening. Evaluative listening of this kind will not
help you to become an effective listener. Complete focus on what a speaker is saying,
leaving aside your previous knowledge, emotions and feelings will help you become
Communication Skills in English 28
Do not jump to conclusions and become defensive.
Our emotions very often colour our listening. Read this conversation between
TEACHER A: This year Class 7A has done extremely well in Mathematics.
TEACHER B: This batch has always been doing very well. It’s not as if something
special has happened to them this year.
TEACHER A: I just said that they have done well this year. I didn’t mean they
didn’t do well before.
TEACHER B: Nobody has the right to think she is responsible for all the good
things that are happening. Starting with their Class 1 teacher, everyone has
contributed to their development and the result is showing now.
is a big obstacle TEACHER A: Does that mean the teachers who taught the children who are now
in developing our in Class 7B didn’t do a good job? You were their Maths teacher in Class 5
communication skills. and 6.
Effective listeners can
remain calm even in the
face of unjust criticism. This is a typical example of emotional, judgemental listening. Teacher B could have
waited for Teacher A to complete what she wanted to say. Perhaps she might have
Actions speak louder paid compliments to the teachers who have been teaching these children in the previ-
than words. ous years voluntarily. Now, Teacher B has put her off such generosity and made her
defensive for life.
Sending discouraging non-verbal communication to someone who is speaking is most
unacceptable. Some people look at their watches, avoid eye contact, rotate the ring on
their ﬁnger, cough or nod looking at something else. Try and imagine a situation where
you are the speaker and others behave this way. This makes the person most unpopular
and people will cut off their communication channels with him/her. If being present
in that situation is so uncomfortable the person should have avoided being there. This
speaks for very poor communication skills.
Do not read your thoughts in the words of others.
The worst thing that can come in the way of your becoming a good listener is the habit
of reading your own thoughts into what the speaker has just said. Very often people
who are intensely emotional believe that the whole world is out to get them. This is
a state of mind which results from having experienced discriminatory treatment from
someone in the past. This scar makes them read their own thoughts into anything that
is said to them even casually. Such a person is a very poor listener.
29 Tips for Effective Listening
Finally, one sure tool to becoming an extremely effective listener is learning to mental-
ly paraphrase what you have heard in your own words. For instance, if you hear some-
one say that the route to Goa from Pune is becoming extremely dangerous because
the trafﬁc has increased four fold since January last, you might want to say, “Öh! You
think going to Goa is becoming increasingly dangerous these days, is it?” When the
mind consciously helps the speech organs repeat what the brain has recorded through
the ears, it stays with you longer. Mental paraphrasing is a very good technique for
content based listening and comprehension listening.
Some Useful Tips to Become Good Communicators
Using the Power of Listening
People who have mastered the skill of listening suggest some techniques for improv-
ing listening. As you can draw strength from your ability to listen effectively in any
situation, the following tips can be very handy.
• Always face the person you are listening to, sit up straight and adopt a posture
which clearly reveals to the speaker that you are listening.
• Maintain natural eye contact with the speaker without making him/her conscious
of it. If you are watching television when someone comes to say something im-
portant, turn it off. If you are reading, put down your book.
It is encouraging to the speaker if you can show some signs of listening attentively
by a suitable gesture or expression like a smile or a nod. Verbal responses and
prompts also demonstrate your interest in what the speaker is saying.
Verbal responses: Really? How interesting!
Prompts: Did they like it? Is that so?
• Do not think about what you could possibly answer even as the speaker is saying
something. Wait for him/her to complete what he/she has to say. If you apply your
mind to what you are listening to without allowing your mind to wander, your
answers will be logical and spontaneous.
• Learn to arrest your mind from wandering as one does when trying to meditate.
• Be open to suggestions and ideas which are out of the ordinary and different from
what you know or believe. A closed mind is the biggest hindrance to effective
• It is not only unmannerly but also unpleasant to disagree with someone as soon
as he/she starts speaking even if you think you are right. There are many different
ways of expressing disagreements:
I am sure you have done your own checks but I have heard a different story.
Communication Skills in English 30
Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel this screw should not be ﬁtted here.
Perhaps I couldn’t appreciate what you saw as I didn’t like the ﬁlm all that
It wasn’t too bad. Maybe I expected a lot.
Do not steal his/her thunder in front of an audience by declaring that you knew all
along what he/she is talking about. It is perfectly all right to let someone have his/her
ﬁve minutes of glory.
Restrain from giving your views unless asked when someone is speaking. Interrupting
to thrust your views on people is not welcome.
A good listener is always a winner for he/she gets more than anyone else can. A speak-
er depletes his/her resources but a listener adds to his/her resources.
Academic Listening 4
“ I hear—I forget
I see—I remember
I do—I understand ”
Preparing to Listen
Academic listening is all about doing something about what you are listening to like
jotting points, classifying points or sequencing points in a logical order.
If our minds are crowded with information that distracts us, our focus gets diffused.
It is very important to know what information one is looking for to be a good listener.
Our mind automatically discards what is not relevant if we are clear about the exact in-
formation we are looking for before we actually listen to something. That is the reason
employs almost the
why some effort spent on pre-listening preparation takes a student far. same sub-skills as
Have you seen opera fans reading up the script before they go to a show? This helps reading.
them appreciate the story more deeply.
If you are to attend a lecture on a particular topic, make sure you read up some back-
ground material about the topic before attending the lecture. It may not always be pos-
sible, but many good libraries stock up material on most academic topics. The Internet
is another valuable source.
When we ﬁrst look at a passage to be read, our mind ﬁrst tries to ﬁgure out what the
passage is all about. How do we do it? Our eyes take in the content words and our
mind slots them into the categories that it is familiar with. For example, if a passage
has words like ‘advantage’, ‘volley’, ‘serve’, ‘net’ etc., we are able to immediately
construe that the passage is on tennis. We refer to this skill as skimming.
Communication Skills in English 32
We employ a very similar technique while listening. Our mind slots the words we are
familiar with into a certain category and decides what the central idea behind the com-
munication we hear is. When our mind indicates to us that the information could be
worthwhile, casual listening turns into active listening almost immediately.
You would have understood by now the role played by the strength of your vocabulary
in enhancing your listening skills. Your familiarity with the words was primarily re-
sponsible for enabling you to identify what the passage was all about.
Once we understand the central idea, our mind immediately begins to respond to the
other little pieces of information that drove home the central idea to our mind. These
Skimming is the are supporting ideas. The ability to scan is the result of sharpening one’s mind with
acquired ability to logical and lateral thinking skills. These are acquired skills too. Tremendous practice
decipher what the is required to be able to scan the necessary information at the ﬁrst instance. Many
central idea of a certain
successful lawyers, detectives and people from investigating agencies have mastered
passage to be read is all
these skills. They are able to infer information which is hidden between the lines. The
ability to read between the lines and see what is not obvious to an average mind puts
The more your word these people in a position of advantage. The good news is that it is not difﬁcult to ac-
power is, the better quire this skill. All you need is practice.
your ability to listen
effectively will be. Inferential Listening
The ability of the A good speaker does not always verbalise everything he/she wants to communicate.
mind to pull out the For example, take Mark Antony’s U-turn speech. Even an angry mob could infer all
supporting ideas is that Mark Antony wanted to communicate despite him saying almost the opposite of
called the skill of his real intent. An intelligent listener perceives beyond what is obvious. This is again
scanning. an acquired skill.
This is an extremely sophisticated technique which only mature listeners are capable
of. Even as the mind registers the information, it processes it using lateral thinking
skills, questioning, predicting, comparing, organising and ﬁnally concluding what is
logical, given the facts that it has gathered from the listening experience. In fact, at this
level, the mind is multitasking without losing information. Very few people achieve
this level of maturity and sophistication in listening. To cite an example, Winston
Churchill was one of those who could almost instantly come up with a profoundly
meaningful yet extremely humourous repartee each time he was in conversation with
33 Academic Listening
We use the following listening types for academic listening:
• Active listening
• Reﬂective listening
• Total listening
• Appreciative listening
• Attentive listening
• Comprehension listening
• Deep listening
The distinguishing feature of a good student lies in his ability to glean the relevant
information from a lecture and organise the pieces of information in his/her mind in
logical sequence. This is very much like the area called My Documents in your com-
puter. Some people save chaotically in My Documents in any category that they can
come up with at the point of saving. This makes it very difﬁcult for them to retrieve
information when required. On the contrary, there are others who have a well-planned
folder list in which they save systematically. These are the people who are able to
retrieve information at a click.
Academic listening involves the ability of a student to glean the necessary information
from a listening input, be it a lecture, debate or discussion and slot them in an order
where retrieval at the time of an examination or for any other productive purpose
An easy to remember table of information for academic listening
• When you attend lectures, apply your best listening skills.
• Employ active listening when listening to the abstract and sophisticated con-
• Take effective notes.
• Total listening is required for lectures, not casual listening.
• Evaluate and grade the information to jot down.
• Organise information to capture the relationship between ideas and concepts.
• Develop the ability to anticipate or predict the relationship between what has al-
ready been presented and what is yet to come. This will help you to understand
the lecture better.
• Read before you attend your lecture to keep up with the speed at which informa-
tion comes to you in the lecture.
• Familiarise yourself with the key vocabulary.
Communication Skills in English 34
• Be selective about the points you jot down. Only the main points are necessary.
• Improve your listening ability by keeping up with the emerging thoughts and
ideas on your subject.
Taking notes using ‘wh’ questions is truly beneﬁcial for organising the points in your
mind in a logical sequence. The key questions that one can ﬁnd answers for in a lecture
what how when where by whom
These are very handy words as prompts to arrive at a logical sequence. Mastering
academic skills is a sure way to excel in an assessment-based system.
Listening to Talks and
What you wear creates an immediate impression. What you say
creates a lasting impression.
Sometimes we may attend a talk because of self-motivation and sometimes by com-
pulsion. A lecture is your route to achieving academic excellence as very often covers
the curricular demands. However, a talk might take you beyond the course. It is an
enhancing tool. It is not always necessary to take notes during talks unless it is by an
expert in the subject of your choice and adds value to your subject knowledge. Listen-
ing effectively to a talk helps in many ways. Listening well is a
powerful means of
You apply the following types of listening when you listen to a talk: communication and
• Content listening if it is loaded with factual information. inﬂuence as to talk well.
• Comprehensive listening if you need to understand the meaning of what is being Find a motivation
talked about. to listen in all
• Logical listening if it discusses an issue which is debatable. at a shop, bus or at a
• Reﬂective listening if it requires one to reﬂect upon an incident, an issue or a talk, there is always an
decision. opportunity to learn
something new. This is
Everyone who gives a talk would have planned it in a logical sequence. The topic reason enough to pay
would be launched by the speaker. He/she may say why he/she chose the topic. Is it attention.
because of its relevance to a current happening or what has just happened or to prevent
something from happening? Is the speaker an activist, scientist, historian, statesman, Make sure you have
ﬁnished speaking before
politician, economist? Whoever it is, you will have some understanding of the speaker
your audience has
and his/her background if you take the trouble to attend his/her talk.
The background information you have collected would reveal his/her area of spe-
cialisation or interest. A good speaker has his/her own pet theories. Look for what the
speaker seems to believe in deeply and if you detect it, you can be sure that he/she is
going to be reiterating it in many ways.
Communication Skills in English 36
Look for the points he/she uses to support his/her main statement. Also record in your
mind the points he/she uses to negate the opposing views to his/her beliefs.
If you are taking notes, jot down the ‘for and against’ points the speaker uses. Watch
for the conclusion. It will drive home his/her beliefs. Most academic listening skills
are useful to talks as well.
Listening to Announcements 6
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand.
However you can not understand until you listen.
I know that you believe you understand what the announcements say but I am not sure
you realise what you heard is not what the announcements mean.
Read this description of a very common happening at the airport.
A passenger hears the following announcement:
Good morning to all passengers travelling to Hyderabad by 3W 4983. Please proceed
to Gate No 3 after completing the check-in formalities. Pingo Airways wishes you a Many a man had missed
pleasant ﬂight. a ﬂight, cancelled an
appointment and lost
The gullible passenger walks towards Gate No 3 because he thinks he has ﬁnished all a deal because he did
the check-in formalities. However, when he reaches the exit that leads to the bus park, not pay attention to the
he is stopped. “Have you identiﬁed your baggage, Sir?” anouncements at the
The expression on the passenger’s face is worth a million rupees. “Ï didn’t know we
had to identify our baggage.” History repeats itself
because no one listens
“Sir, we made an announcement ten minutes ago requesting the passengers to identify
the ﬁrst time.
“Well, I hadn’t paid attention to it as for quite a few months now, you haven’t been
asking the passengers to do that.”
“I am sorry, Sir, but you will have to do that today.”
Discuss with your partner the reason for such a scene.
• Did he take things for granted?
• Was he not paying attention to information coming his way?
• Was the airline at fault?
Communication Skills in English 38
Listening to announcements has evolved to a state of art, not just a skill. Let’s under-
stand how many things come in the way of you and your announcements.
Poor Sound Equipment
This is really not the fault of the listener. Extensive use leaves most equipment in
a state of repair. Even the best of sound equipments can project poor quality audio.
However, the passenger has no control over this. Stephen Covey talks about Circle of
Control and Circle of Inﬂuence. This state of the audio equipment is not in our circle
of control. What is in our circle of inﬂuence is sharpening our minds to face the unex-
pected and the unaccustomed. Be ever so alert when you are about to board a plane, a
bus or any other mode of transport. Pay attention to every announcement made till you
are sure that it is not meant for your ﬂight, train or bus.
Our country has many different accents. Although transport companies look for people
with neutral accents, it is not always possible to ﬁnd someone with such an accent.
Neutral accent can be easily understood by a large number of listeners because it is not
quoted with heavy mother tongue inﬂuence. Every state in India has a well-evolved
language with its own sound patterns and uniqueness. The training these announcers
get is not sufﬁcient to overcome mother tongue inﬂuence totally. Again this leaves a
passenger to fend for himself in a big way. It necessitates careful and attentive listen-
ing once again.
Issue of Proﬁciency in English and the Local Language
This can become another obstacle in a passenger’s way. If you speak neither English
nor the local language, the next best thing to do is to memorise the ﬂight, bus or train
number and look for it on an announcement board.
If everything fails, remember, you can always communicate non-verbally to a co-pas-
senger and get by. One often meets a foreigner who gets by making signs and ﬁnding
out what she or he wants in places which are linguistically locked.
Scanning for Information
When you ring an airline, bus or the railway announcement number on the phone, it
is not just your ﬂight, bus or train but a whole range of others which are announced
in a sequence. This calls for a level of total listening to capture the detail which is
pertinent to you. Here your skill of scanning comes in handy. You will probably be a
passive listener till you hear your bus or ﬂight number mentioned. Your brain becomes
active the minute you hear your ﬂight/train number and your destination mentioned.
39 Listening to Announcements
If anxiety gets hold of you, you lose that information and will have to go through the
process of listening to the same set of announcements all over again. Your power of
practiced concentration is your route to success under such circumstances. You scan
the list to get what you need because you know before you start listening what you
need to look for. You can increase your rate of success by writing the ﬂight, train or
bus number on a small piece of paper using big fonts and hold it in front of you. The
impact of visual effect combined with the listening makes it doubly sure that you get
to understand what you want.
Listening to Radio
and Television 7
Radio and the television give you an opportunity to practise two
kinds of listening—listening for pleasure and listening for infor-
mation and knowledge.
Entertainment and Information
People began to listen to the radio actively during the Second World War days. It
became an inevitable source of information in those strife-torn days. When the war
ended people thought of using it for entertainment totally and for news thrice a day.
Listening to the radio occupied so much mind space of human beings that they began
to clock their lives along the order of programmes broadcast.
Listening for pleasure includes music programmes, dance programmes and skits or
plays. It is possible to listen to such things even when one is doing something other
One advantage of
talking or singing to
than just listening. These do not obstruct the thought process of a listener and stop him/
yourself is that at least her from paying attention to the other information based listening he/she might be do-
you know somebody is ing simultaneously. You might have seen many young people listening to music while
listening. solving Math problems. The mind is multitasking at this time. The mind is capable
of multitasking to a limited extent if the jobs on hand are not complex or such that
demand single-minded attention. The effectiveness of active listening for one form of
communication when one is listening to two inputs at the same time is arguable for an
People today answer phone calls while listening to music and read the newspaper
at the same time. The literate community is developing its ability to multi-task at a
It is believed that pleasant sounds like that of a ﬂute or tuneful singing have the ability
to calm the mind and increase its efﬁciency to process more information effectively.
The same can’t be said of obstrusive sounds like that of a hooting car or the high pitch
of two people quarrelling on the streets. Noise is deﬁnitely a hindrance to the comple-
tion of any effective function.
41 Listening to Radio and Television
Listening for Information
It is entirely true that whatever information makes a difference to our lives, whether
in a positive or a negative manner, comes to us even though it might not be addressed
to us directly. When we perceive such information, we become active listeners im-
mediately. You must have seen ﬁlms where a group of people having fun suddenly
hear a telecast announcing a bombing or some enemy attack on the country. People
who have relatives in the armed forces stop to listen more attentively. Similarly, if you
know a cousin is ﬂying to a particular place on a day when a crash announcement is
made, you become an active listener. The subconscious mind has the ability to take in
two kinds of inputs at the same time and choose to pay more attention to the one that
affects that person. The information that
While listening to the news we employ almost the same type of listening. If a person does not touch your life
does not touch your
is only interested in sports news, his/her mind switches off from news on politics al-
though he/she can hear it. Hearing does not turn into listening in those circumstances.
The point when hearing turns into listening is the point of self-motivated listening. This
differentiates the way a highly motivated student listens and another who couldn’t re-
ally care how he/she performs in the forthcoming tests.The ﬁrst type of student listens
while the second type just hears. When you listen, your mind is involved and when
you hear just your ears are involved.
A trained listener in whichever situation he/she is in, does not ask the speaker to repeat
what they say. Imagine a booking assistant in a railway ofﬁce. If he keeps asking the
person who wants a ticket for the same information repeatedly, the passenger will be
irritated. Moreover, the booking ofﬁcer will not be able to service the requests of as
many passengers as he is supposed to.
and English 8
He pronounced some of his words as if they were corks being
drawn out of bottles.
English is not a phonetic language. This means that English words are not written as
they are spoken. Read these words aloud.
In the word ‘sew’, the vowel is pronounced as in ‘sow’.
And in the word ‘sugar’, the consonant ‘s’ is pronounced as ‘sh’ as in ‘sheep’.
As we are not native speakers of English, it is possible that we might go wrong in our
Words sing. They
understanding when we listen to these words spoken. Imagine someone says to you:
hurt. They teach. They
sanctify. They were man’s She sewed her own dresses.
ﬁrst immeasurable feat If you did not know that the vowel é’ in this word is pronounced as in ‘sow’ you might
of magic. They liberate
completely misunderstand the meaning.
us from ignorance.
A non-native speaker can overcome this problem by paying special attention to the
words which are not true to their spellings. Listening to standard models of spoken
English also helps.
You could develop a personal checklist like this and put it up where everyone can
• It is sheep not seep.
• It is zoo not joo.
• It is adjust not ajust.
• It is ship not sheep.
The list could be very long especially since our country has so many different lan-
43 Effective Listening and English
guages and the inﬂuence of the mother tongue on the second language could be very
The best solution for this is identifying areas of difﬁculty and becoming conscious of
the effort one has to put in to become an effective communicator.
How Listening Works for You
A good listener is a very popular person in any social circle. In today’s world everyone
is so eager to speak that a good listener is becoming a rarity. No social skill is worth
as much as the skill of listening. Listening as we have already understood is not just
hearing or pretending to hear. It is active listening that we are talking about.
Home is the place where the people we love reside. A house turns into a home because
we love and care for the people who share our home with us. Today’s lifestyle often
The lack of emotional
comes in the way of bonding among family members that can happen only by active security of young people
listening. Two income families gets everything people want except the time to listen to is their isolation from
near and dear ones. Listening makes people feel loved and wanted. Empathetic listen- the larger family unit.
ing makes people feel appreciated. Total listening brings a parent and the teen aged A large family teaches
child closer. Relationships get nourished and deepened when related people listen to all that there is to learn
one another with concern, love and respect. A good listener not only provides good about communication
companionship but also presents to others a role model to emulate. even before you step
out of your home.
Listening makes people around you feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respect-
ed. Active listening makes ordinary conversations move into a deeper level, taking
along with it the relationship as well. When we listen, we hone this skill in other also
by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.
Meaningful communication creates greater bonding among the members of a family.
Thoughts and actions of couples synergise paving the way for a better atmosphere at
home for raising children. Teenaged children feel they get enough attention and this
builds their self esteem. In such a healthy atmosphere there is very little scope for
Active listening is almost one of the golden rules of the workplace. At the workplace,
people are often stressed with having to meet tight schedules and pressing deadlines.
It is also largely believed that not everyone contributes in equal measure to work
completion thus leaving a small group to work under great pressure. In these circum-
stances, active listening helps avoid friction among workers. Effective listening skills
fuel our social, emotional and professional success.
Communication Skills in English 44
Place Yourself in the Speaker’s Shoes
To understand how to listen to someone, place yourself in his/her shoes and think
about how you would want to be listened to. An empathetic person will be able to do
it almost intuitively, practice will make you perfect.
The more you listen the more popular you will be as good company in a social gath-
ering. Let people talk and you show that you are listening to them actively using
prompts, right responses and other tools of active listening.
Listening only makes you a better person to be with.
• To listen and scan information from a listening input
• To understand the main idea and the related ideas in a listening input
• To infer and analyse hidden information
Work in groups of ﬁve. Let one person read this passage and others ﬁll the blanks
in the table while listening.
This is a sad day for everyone in our company. Exceed Miles Motors is going to learn
to live without Mr Kannan.
Mr Kannan has nurtured every worker in the shop ﬂoor with love and care. All of
us have tales to tell of how our lives have been touched by Mr Kannan one way or
the other. Thirty-ﬁve years of complete dedication to Exceed Miles Motors and its
workers from Mr Kannan has left its mark on all facets of life in our company. Be it
the recreation club for the workers, day care centre for the children of lady workers,
medical centre for the family members of workers, gardening activities for the bored
senior citizens who are parents of our workers, Mr Kannan’s every living moment in
the last thirty-ﬁve years has been spent thinking up welfare measures for the people
he cares for so deeply.
Although we had known for quite sometime now that this day would come, our mind
refuses to accept the idea of Exceed Miles Motors without Mr Kannan. I am sure his
family is delighted today for they are going to have Mr Kannan all to themselves from
now on and, Ma’am, may we tell you that we are jealous?
The workers have pooled in some money from their wages and bought a gift for Mr
and Mrs Kannan as a token of love. They have bought the couple a four-day holiday
to Ooty and booked hotel accommodation for four days. It took quite some time to get
Communication Skills in English 46
Mr Kannan’s permission to allow them to do it. At ﬁrst he refused to accept it because
he felt that by doing so he would be snatching away from the workers something they
badly needed for their children. The love of the workers ﬁnally overcame his denial.
Mr Kannan has created a trust fund for the children of the workers from his provident
fund to pay the school fees of any child of a worker if he/she is taken ill.
Sir, may we request you to say a few words which we will cherish all our lives?
Mr Kannan worked in:
The length of his service is:
The workers worked in the:
Mr Kannan’s contribution to the
The difference in feeling between his
family and the workers:
The gift that the workers bought for
Mr Kannan’s reason for not readily
accepting the gift:
Mr Kannan’s parting gift to the workers:
Few words to describe Mr Kannan:
Few words to describe Exceed Miles
• To collect the right information one is looking for
• To ignore information that is not relevant
• To retain the information after listening
Form groups of six. One person is the narrator and two others will take the roles
of a ticketing agent and Nalini. After enacting the role-play, ﬁll in the blanks with-
out looking at the input again.
Nalini is planning to go on a holiday to Singapore to meet her aunt. Although she
has been talking to travel agents, she still has not found the cheap ticket she has been
looking for. She doesn’t want to inﬂict a ﬁnancial burden on her parents who, in their
salaries as school teachers, can ill afford to waste money on expensive tickets. Nalini
happens to hear this radio announcement: Hello, Students! The summer vacation is
almost here! Have you planned a holiday? Here’s an opportunity to all students who
are yet to plan. Lingan Airlines not only helps you with a free ticket but also lets you
earn spending money when you are on holiday.
All you have to do is ﬁnd two families who are interested in a holiday in Singapore
and can buy group tickets together for eight people at a discount of 25%. Each family
should have a minimum of four members, two adults and two children. Once you put
us on to the families who can ﬁnalise their tickets before this week runs out, you can
earn your free ticket plus the value of 5% of their tickets in cash. It is easy! Collect the
scheme brochures and tourism brochures from our ofﬁce at No 16 Dandayuthapani
Avenue, Madurai-27. Our phone number is: 22324175. Just a week’s hard work and
you walk away with a free ticket to Singapore! Don’t miss this opportunity!
Now, complete the following sentences with the information from the listening input.
Unless you have paid total attention to the input while it was being enacted, you will
not be able to ﬁll in the blanks. Remember, this trains you for active listening!
1. Nalini wanted to go to Singapore to .......................................................................
2. Nalini was looking for but could not get the ........................................................ .
3. Nalini’s parents were ............................................................................................ .
4. On her parents, Nalini did not want to inﬂict a .................................................... .
5. The radio announcement offered a ....................................................................... .
6. The offer included ............................................ and ............................................ .
7. The offer was from ............................................................................................... .
8. The scheme was ......................................................................................................
9. The time allowed for getting these passengers was .............................................. .
10. The couples would get a discount of .................................................................... .
11. Nalini would get .............................................. and .............................................. .
12. The Airlines is located at ...................................................................................... .
13. The phone number of the Airline is: ................................................................... .
Communication Skills in English 48
One sure means of improving our communicative competence is by the habit of
newspaper reading. This helps in many ways. Newspapers expose us to the cur-
rent language: new words coined by technology, sports and business, and gener-
ally make us so aware that we are readily able to understand information that we
listen to. Reading or listening to the news does the following things:
• They help us in purposive listening.
• They expose us to standard international English.
• Developing communication by listening to the radio
• Relating an input with its headline
Read these radio broadcasts and number them according to the headlines .
• Come 2010 and the Indian small car market will be all set to hit the fourth gear.
Nearly a dozen small car makers (all big names) are in the game. Some names
splashed are: Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford and Toyota.
• The wings are down in most airlines because of rising fuel prices. The middle
class had a taste of ﬂying but has now landed in the railway platforms with a
resounding thud. Kingﬁsher and Jet have raised their fares and others are sure to
• Putting together 167 runs, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave India a
tremendous start in the second test against Sri Lanka at Galle on Thursday. Rain
decided to put an end to the day’s game dampening the ﬁeld as well the spirits of
• Everyone is asking the same question: Can monsoon do what the Finance
Minister couldn’t? With inﬂation at 11.98%, a good monsoon could be our only
hope of bringing down the prices. If the monsoon fails, it will badly affect grain
yield, reducing supply further and increasing demand.
• The face of Liz Taylor and congestive heart failure cannot be imagined in the
same frame. The cardiac beast is holding the beauty in its clutches. Life support
system did not know that it was supporting a double Oscar winning actress in its
• Saturn’s moon, Titan, contains lakes of liquid carbon according to a NASA report.
This makes Titan the second known body in the solar system to have liquid sub-
stance besides the earth.
(a) Rain to the minister’s rescue
(b) Unstoppable at Galle
(c) Small tools and Big players
(d) Beauty and the beast
(e) Flying low
(f) Not unique anymore
To take this communicative activity further, you can try writing a short report on each
one of the news items.
Listen to some programmes on the radio or the television on a holiday. Then
list the programmes under different heads like news, song and dance, talk show,
panel discussion etc. Write the duration, names of actors, television jockeys, sing-
ers, dancers, etc. Now, against each one of them, write a short review of what
you liked or disliked about these programmes. Select these programmes from an
Communication Skills in English 50
When you watch these programmes, note the different accents. Can you identify four
mother tongue interferences in the way people spoke English? Who was the best com-
municator according to you? Why did you think so? Was it the way his/her sentences
were structured? Was it the accent? Was it the substance in the speech? Think about all
these aspects of communication.
Form groups of six and let one person deliver a lecture using this material. Let
the others take lecture notes individually. Then compare these notes and ﬁnd out
which one of the group members has used all the academic skills he has learnt
from this unit.
From the point of view of languages spoken, the Indian subcontinent presents a rich
and varied scenario. These languages have evolved from four different language fami-
lies: (i) Indo-Iranian (a subfamily of Indo-European languages), (ii) Dravadian, (iii)
Austro-Asiatic and (iv) Tibeto-Burman. These language-families have interacted for
centuries. Because of their long-standing contact, languages that are distantly related
or not genetically related at all have converged and formed a group that is, in some
respects, structurally distinct from the languages that are genetically related to them
but are spoken outside the region. They have formed a linguistic area, a sprachbund,
such as in the Balkans in Europe. The Dravidian languages have no known relatives
outside the subcontinent. Besides, two languages, Burushashki, spoken in Pakistan,
and Nahali, spoken in south-western Madhya Pradesh in India, have no known afﬁni-
ties with any language inside or outside the subcontinent.
The Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family is the largest language group
in the subcontinent. It can be further split into three subfamilies: (i) Indo-Aryan, (ii)
Dardic and (iii) Iranian. Sanskrit, the classical language of India, represents the high-
est achievement of the Indo-Aryan languages. Subsequently, it developed into various
dialects of Prakrit, Pali and Apabhramsa. Among the modern Indo-Aryan languages,
Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya, Sindhi, Hindi, Urdu, Nepali and Konk-
ani are ‘ofﬁcially recognised languages’ of India; Urdu is the ofﬁcial language of Paki-
stan; Bengali (Bangla) of Bangladesh; Nepali of Nepal and Singhalese (Sinhala) of Sri
Lanka. Among the Dardic group of languages, Kashmiri is the mother tongue, though
not the ofﬁcial language, of the people of Kashmir. Among the Indo-Iranian group of
languages, Pashto is the ofﬁcial language of Afghanistan. After independence, Indian
states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. Thus, Assamese is the ofﬁcial language
of Assam, Bengali of West Bengal, Gujarati of Gujarat, Marathi of Maharashtra, Ori-
ya of Orissa and Punjabi of Punjab. All these languages, except Marathi, have their
own scripts; Marathi is written in Devnagari script, which is also used to write Hindi
and Nepali. Hindi is the ofﬁcial language of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh,
Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi. Kashmiri and
Sindhi are not ofﬁcial languages of any particular state, though they are ‘ofﬁcially
recognised languages’. These languages are written in the Perso-Arabic script, though
Sindhi-speakers in India have started using the Devnagari script as well. Konkani is
spoken mainly in Goa and in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Among the Dravadian group of languages, Kannada is the ofﬁcial language of Karna-
taka, Malayalam of Kerala, Tamil of Tamil Nadu and Telugu of Andhra Pradesh.
Manipuri (or Meitei) is the only language of the Tibeto-Burman family, which is one
of the ofﬁcially recognised languages of the government of India; it is the ofﬁcial lan-
guage of Manipur. It has a rich literature, which is mostly in the Bengali script. Mizo is
the ofﬁcial language of Mizoram. Dzongkha, another language of the Tibeto-Burman
family, is the ofﬁcial language of Bhutan. None of the Austro-Asiatic languages is the
ofﬁcial language of any state or country in the subcontinent.
South Asia is noted not only for its regional but also social variation in languages.
In regional terms, there are nearly 50 dialects of Hindi, some of which (Maithili and
Rajasthani) claim to be separate languages. As we move from the eastern part of the
Hindi-speaking area to the western part, we do not ﬁnd major variations in neighbour-
ing regional dialects but such variations are present between two distant ‘dialects’ of
Hindi, for instance, Maithili and Rajasthani. They may not even be mutually compre-
hensible. Besides these regional dialects, there is a variety of standard Hindi-Urdu, or
Hindustani, which is comprehensible to all speakers of Hindi because of its use by the
mass media and in the marketplace. The colloquial Hindustani has its regional version
in the Dravidian belt, called Dakkhini Hindi/Urdu, which is spoken by a sizable mi-
nority in Hyderabad (a Telegu-speaking area), Bangalore (a Kannada-speaking area)
and Chennai (a Tamil-speaking area).
—Anjani Kumar Sinha
(Source: Student’s Britannica (India))
Empathetic listening, as we all know is quite difﬁcult. Let’s see if you are capable
of that. Imagine you meet this neighbour who is well over seventy years of age.
She lives alone and she wants you to take her to the doctor because she doesn’t
Communication Skills in English 52
speak English and the doctor doesn’t know the local language. The lady com-
municates all her problems to you in the hope that you will be able to make the
doctor understand what she is suffering from and cure her. Work in groups of
four. One person is the doctor. One person will be the lady and the third person
will be you. The fourth member of the group will critique your ability to listen
YOU: Can I help you, Aunty? I heard you calling out to your maid. Isn’t she around?
LADY: I have been calling to her for more than an hour but she is not to be seen. Can
you check in her room?
YOU: I will, Aunty. You lie down. Your feet seem swollen.
LADY: I am suffering from rheumatic arthritis. I have so much pain in my feet. I
couldn’t sleep all night.
YOU: I am so sorry to hear this Aunty. If you needed something you could have called
me. You have my number, don’t you?
LADY: Yes, I do. But I didn’t feel like disturbing you. You are working all day.
YOU: You shouldn’t feel that way. I would like to help you, Aunty. Do you have all
LADY: I need to stock up my tranquilisers and steroids. The steroids will ease my pain
and the tranquilisers will help me sleep. Perhaps, the potency is not enough. I am not
able to take the pain even after I take pain killers and steroids.
YOU: I really wish I could share your pain in some way but I am helpless.
LADY: God forbid! Don’t even say that. You are such a good boy. May you have a long,
YOU: When is your appointment with the doctor Aunty? I will go with you. I will bring
my father’s car. Has this doctor been treating you for long? Does he know your case
LADY: Not long. My physician suggested that I go to this doctor after my arthritis
worsened. He is a specialist. I hope he cures me. I am not even able to eat solids be-
cause of this pain. It is so excruciating that I feel like throwing up if I eat anything.
The medicine also makes my tongue bitter. I sleep in ﬁts in the day time and I am
wide awake all night.
YOU: Do you feel like eating some soup?
LADY: Perhaps that might be good. But my maid can’t prepare that.
YOU: I will ask my mother to send you some.
LADY: God bless your family.
Now, enact the scene at the doctor’s place. Let’s see how effective you are in com-
municating everything to the doctor.