There is a rumor that long before the gadgets had been invented, people were spending their evenings talking. They were gathering in the living room, discussing the latest events in their lives and sharing impressions about their day. Kids and adults were all involved in that process. Thus, children had a chance to practice speaking in a pleasant home setting and had no trouble expressing their ideas in public.
These days it’s getting harder and harder for the students to find the right words to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Being born with the iPod or cell phone in their hands, they see no objective in talking to their parents or peers. And why should they?
Other people can’t sing in the way their favorite singer could. - But the phone can.
Other people can’t show a funny video clip. - But the phone can.
Other people can’t be as engaging as their favorite game. - But the phone can.
In view of that, more and more students find it extremely complicated to communicate with their peers, parents, and teachers. That’s the huge problem of the new generation, but the good news is that it could be fixed.
The skills of self-expression and effective communication are obtained through persistent and systemic practice. Here’s when classroom activities for communication skills become of great importance.
Even though mastering communication skills is not a matter of one activity, and it might take several years to polish the art of expressing yourself, certain classroom activities can nourish the minds of students.
In this article, we’ll list some of the greatest activities a teacher can use in the classroom to encourage their students to speak and communicate effectively.
How Do You Define That Students Have Communication Difficulties?
It’s commonly accepted that only kids under 5 years old might have some issues in setting the rapport with the surrounding people. When a 3-year-old kid is not talking and screaming instead of explaining what he wants from you, we can immediately make the diagnosis - the child has some communication issues.
But students at the teenage or mature age can also have problems expressing their thoughts or talking to strangers. So, the communication difficulties can target people of any age, but the symptoms would vary. An adult person would:
- have the language that looks childish and meager;
- mumble or produce the speech that could be hardly understood by others;
- struggle to talk to other people (even the ones they know);
- have issues listening to the speaker;
- avoid any types of verbal communication.
So, students who have the above-mentioned signs should be engaged in communication activities.
Before You Start the Activity
The setting in the classroom and the teacher’s behavior is important when it comes to teaching communication skills. To foster the dialog between the students and boost their motivation, the teacher should nurture a communication-friendly environment where:
- students feel safe to express their ideas, even the weirdest ones;
- there is a lot of group work that encourages communication;
- students can move freely around the class interacting with one another;
- they get positive reinforcement through joyful feedback.
If you are going to discuss some complicated topic students might not be aware of, or they might feel the lack of terminology or other wording to be able to freely share their ideas, make sure you’ve provided them with the supportive vocabulary. You can even give patterns for asking questions in a polite fashion or transition words that would be making the speech more logical.
Also, when teaching communication skills to high school students pay attention to how the students speak. Of course, their message and ideas are brilliant and highly important, but they are only a part of communication. People also perceive information through gestures, intonation, pauses, speech melody, and so on. So, it would be a mistake to ignore these aspects of effective communication.
In such an environment and with the right amount of support from the teacher’s side, the students would feel safe to communicate their ideas and thoughts without being humiliated, judged, or mocked.
Effective Communication Activities for High School Students
High school students are not as keen on games as elementary students. So, the activities for drilling communication skills should be focused on real-time situations, role-playing, and imagination.
Listening is as important in communication as speaking. But this skill is frequently ignored and, as a result, we are completely inept at listening to what the interlocutor is saying and understanding the message. So, this activity is very simple but really effective for mastering the listening skill.
One student listens to what the other student is saying. The topic range could be specified or the speaker could improvise. In the end, the listener should summarize what the speaker has just told.
Who Am I?
This is a fun activity, and people of all ages love it. This game involves sticking notes with the name of any object, famous person, movie character, and so on to the forehead of one student. The student should not see what the note says and should guess by asking the right questions to the audience.
The challenge and probably the funniest part of this game is that the student with the note can only ask general questions, i.e., the ones that could be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
The Perfect Match
Make a list of the things or people known for being great pairs. For example, the Sun and the Moon, bread and butter, Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde, Tom and Jerry, and so on.
After that, write down every item or person from the list on a separate piece of paper. Every participant of the game should get a paper with the name of the part of the pair.
The goal of the activity is to find the pair as soon as possible. But there are some rules.
- You can’t ask directly about what the person has on the paper.
- You have only three questions for each person to figure out what’s in their note.
- If all the questions are used and the right answer hasn’t been given, the person can’t tell who they are.
- The student can only reveal themself only in case someone guesses the answer.
By the end of the game, everyone should find their perfect match.
Tell Me about the Time
The aim of this activity is to put students at ease when talking in front of an audience. Besides, it will help fight the fear of talking nonsense and be mocked.
A group of students chooses a person who would be the moderator of the conversation. The leader should come up with a bizarre and ridiculous ending to the sentence, “Tell me about the time…”. For example, “Tell me about the time when you saw an alien in your backyard.” The second person should tell a story on the given topic within 3-5 minutes. Students enjoy this activity as it’s both entertaining and beneficial.
Let’s Get Debates Started
Divide the class into two groups and set the topic for discussion. One group should make an argument, and another has to disagree with the first group and present their point of view.
Each group should be given some time to discuss the arguments in the group. After this, they should pick speakers who would be presenting arguments from the group. Every thesis should be laid out by a new group member. In this way, all students will be involved in the discussion.
Draw It if You Can
Students work in groups of two and sit back-to-back. One student describes how to draw an object, animal, or just anything without naming it, while the partner listens to the directions and tries to do their best to recreate the directions of the groupmate. In the end, two students combine the final version of the drawing and define if the idea of the image and the actual picture match.
If you would like to drill the communication skills at home, make use of interactive read-aloud. There are some audiobooks and records that have a pre-recorded speech with the encouragement to continue the story, answer the question, or express your point of view.
Only Gestures Allowed!
Nonverbal communication is frequently underestimated, but it’s just as essential as the words you pick for delivering your thoughts. And, sometimes, even more defining. So this activity will help students train their nonverbal muscles and learn to communicate even when no words are allowed.
So, the class can agree on the day when they will be using gestures only. No words for communicating with one another, only nonverbal signals are allowed. This activity can even lead to the creation of the group nonverbal clues, which can be later used for daily communication.
Useful Communication Activities for College Students
Most college students enter the educational establishment with a solid communication record. Even though some of the learners have mastered the skill to perfection, some of them might still need some practice to take their skill to the next level.
So, here are the activities that can be used both in the classroom in the group or at home individually.
What’s Wrong with …?
People find it fun finding mistakes or inaccuracies in someone’s speech, examples, explanations, whatever. This fact can be used by a college teacher in the classroom as an incentive to encourage communication and discussion.
The teacher narrates a story or makes explanations of new material during the lecture and then asks a question, “What’s wrong with the story?”. The students should be engaged in the discussion making their own statements of what they think is wrong and why. This activity also works great for developing critical thinking and analytical skills.
How can YouTube foster communication if watching a video is a passive skill? That’s easy! Let your students watch a video all together on the topic you’re studying. Then, break them down into small groups so that they could easily discuss it. Give a specific question to think about or let them find out how the information they have just learned pairs with the previous material.
Map It Out!
Letting students visualize the concepts, ideas, and the obtained material is a great way to enhance the learning skills and foster communication in the classroom. Break students into groups and ask them to map out the information on the given topic. In this way, they will see how the ideas and concepts relate within the given framework and will be able to see outside their own experience and perspective. Students can use a chart paper or leverage online tools for creating mind maps.
Compare & Contrast
This is another activity for group work that implies a lot of discussion and negotiation within the group. Get your students focused on a specific textbook chapter or even the section of the chapter. Make them discuss how this brand-new information correlates and contrasts with the material they studied through other resources.
This activity will help students feel at ease in the rapidly-changing settings and feel free to express their ideas to the public. It will also boost listening and analytical skills. First, share the list of prompts for discussion. These topics can be related to the case study, video, or any course material.
Then, put students into groups of 5-6. Let them discuss a topic for 5-to-10 minutes and then rotate 2 students to another group. Those students who have just joined a new group should share the findings from their previous discussion and go over the topic once again, but briefly. After this, they can proceed with another question.
Let students start in a group of two and get them to discuss a case study, video, or course material. After the brisk discussion, ask them to share their thoughts with another group, so join two groups to make a group of four. Set some time limits for the disputation and then connect two groups of 4 into a larger one. Continue this activity till the class is back together again.