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How to Teach Effective English Communication Skills

How to Teach Effective English Communication Skills
Admin - Sep 29 2015

Getting EFL and ESL students learn to become truly effective communicators remain a challenge in many language classes. For example, learning vocabularies is one thing and is generally easy to achieve, but getting students to articulate simple ideas using the English words they know can sometimes become frustrating as they struggle through syntax, grammar, pronunciation and meaning.

One way experienced language educators hurdle this difficulty is to use an activity called “Report the Story Game.” This activity aims to develop students’ memorization, concept-building and communication skills. It goes like this:

  1. Prepare two short and simple stories or articles in English.
  2. Form the class in groups of four.
  3. Distribute copies of Story A to two members of each group while distribute copies of Story B to the other two members.
  4. Ask students to read, understand and remember the stories assigned to them but never require them to memorize the stories. Discourage note-taking.
  5. Collect the copies of the stories.
  6. In each group, let members assigned to Story A narrate or report the story as best they can to the other two members who are unfamiliar with Story A. The same steps should also be taken for Story B.
  7. Rearrange the groupings in the whole class, partnering learners who read Story A with those who read Story B but who are not in their original groups.
  8. Have the students create a ten-item test based on the respective stories they have read and narrated and give the test to their new group members.


While most students find this activity very enjoyable, the initial test results are expected to be very low, with scores of 3 out of 10 being the average. This is because the students just listened passively without asking questions and communicated passively by just giving a simple retelling of the stories. Once students are aware that they need to proactively engage the activity, they then obtain higher scores in subsequent games.

After the initial session, this activity should be replicated every once in a while and should be graded to encourage deeper involvement and broader use of student’s communication skills. After some time, students will start to learn and use the following communication strategies to gain higher scores:

  • They start informing their partner teams when they couldn’t understand details.
  • They start helping each other define or describe English terms.
  • They start spelling out numbers and related facts.
  • They start asking for confirmation on whether they understood the narration correctly.
  • They start developing analytical and summarization skills.

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