Communicating - or getting our message across - is the concern of us all in our daily lives in whatever language we happen to use. Learning to be better communicators is important to all of us in both our private and public lives. Better communication means better understanding of ourselves and others; less isolation from those around us and more productive, happy lives. We begin at birth by interacting with those around us to keep warm, dry and fed. We learn very soon that the success of a particular communication strategy depends on the willingness of others to understand and on the interpretation they give to our meaning. Whereas a baby's cry will be enough to bring a mother running with a clean nappy and warm milk in one instance, it may produce no response at all in another. We learn then that meaning is never one-sided. Rather, it is negotiated, between the persons involved. As we grow up our needs grow increasingly complex, and along with them, our communication efforts. Different words, we discover, are appropriate in different settings. The expressions we hear in the playground or through the bedroom door may or may not be suitable at the supper table. We may decide to use them anyway to attract attention. Along with words, we learn to use intonation, gestures, facial expression, and many other features of communication to convey our meaning to persons around us. Most of our communication strategies develop unconsciously, through imitation of persons we admire and would like to resemble to some extent - and the success we experience in our interactions. Formal training in the classroom affords us an opportunity to gain systematic practice in an even greater range of communicative activities. Group discussions, moderated by the teacher, give young learners important practice in taking turns, getting the attention of the group, stating one's views and perhaps disagreeing with others in a setting other than the informal family or...
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