Importance of communication skills for academic success

Richa Sharma, Vega Schools

For any student, communication skills, which include listening, speaking, reading and writing, are a vital part of their personal and academic growth. Good communication not only helps them to socialise with their peers but also helps them in many other aspects of their life. No wonder then that Communication Skills are one of the most important 21st century skills.

Here are a few examples of how good communication leads to better academic performance and better personality development for a learner.

Interpersonal relationships

Students who know how to articulate their thoughts and ideas are more interactive with their classmates and teachers. They can work well in groups and can participate in team activities with ease. Good speakers are able to create friendships within and outside of the classroom too. They know how to handle conflicts and can issue a kind word when required in diplomatic situations. Good listening skills help children understand the needs and emotions of others which in turn is required to maintain strong bonds with peers. It is well established that a child who has strong friendships at school, is a happy student, making them a happy learner.

Emotional well being

Good communication is essential for the overall confidence and emotional well being of a school-going child. A child who speaks her mind and is able to express emotions is happier and more confident. Children should be able to express when they like or don’t like something, when they are feeling negative emotions, when they have had a conflict with a peer, when they are in trouble, or simply when they want to express their needs. Good communication skills are reflected when a child not only knows when to speak but also how and who to speak to.

Participating in activities

As more and more schools progressively move towards student-centred learning methods, classroom activities have become an important part of the teaching process. Students are required to work in groups to showcase their learnings or to solve real-life problems. Participating in such activities requires good listening and speaking skills so that participants are able to maintain productive group dynamics and achieve learning outcomes.

Assessments

It is a sad reality that many bright students who are intellectually strong are unable to articulate their understanding of a concept in writing or in speech due poor communication skills. When reading and listening comprehension is not strong, children have difficulty in understanding instructions and questions and often misinterpret the desired outcomes in an assessment. As the world moves towards more application-based assessment patterns, it is imperative that test takers have strong communication so they can understand questions, answer as desired, and become less dependent on rote learning. This is the reason that some of the best CBSE schools of Gurgaon now use innovative methods for assessing their learners, such as presentations, flipped teaching and creating real-life scenarios in order to understand how well students can apply the concepts that they have learnt in school.

Academic language

It must be understood that merely speaking well does not necessarily indicate a child’s communication skills. Effective communication for a student is displayed when they know the difference between casual language and academic language. Some students lose their foothold when writing or speaking about subject-specific concepts because speaking about social sciences or animal sciences is different from speaking in everyday English.

How to improve communication skills for academic success?

It is important that parents support their children in developing their communication skills in order for the children to fare better in academics. Here are a few tips:

  • Speak to the children about their feelings, wants and aspirations, especially during stressful times, such as during exams or during online classes.
  • When children are unable to meet their friends for a long period of time due to illness or other reasons, parents need to be present for them as friends.
  • When discussing or revising academic concepts at home, have children teach-back or present their understanding in different ways. Focus on improving all aspects of communication- listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Allow children to access, read and understand communication sent online by teachers and by the school so they understand the different types of formal/informal language used in emails and on Google Classroom.
  • Use technology to enhance communication. Have children watch and listen to different types of media, both for entertainment and for academic purposes.
  • Speak to children in the correct language required for an occasion; do not try to simplify language all the time. For example, once a child has learnt the concept of directions and maps in Geography, talk in the same terms- North, South, East, West. It is important to use subject-specific language, such as ‘invest money’ instead of ‘save money’ or ‘harvesting of crops’ instead of ‘cutting of plants’. The idea is that if a child knows a concept, it should be reinforced when the opportunity arises. Do not unnecessarily translate from one language to the other. Children should be able to communicate independently in the languages they learn at school, and not get into the habit of translating.
  • Most importantly, foster an environment of open and positive communication at home so children learn how to talk to friends and teachers effectively.
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