The art of effective communication

Writing is all about effective communication.

I believe that effective writing is usually simple writing. If my writing is complex or sprinkled with long or infrequently used words or jargon, I will not be communicating effectively. By keeping my writing simple, clear and easy to understand, I make the best effort possible to communicate my ideas to my readers.

But what if you don’t know what words to use?

Over the last year or so a group of Chinese immigrants have moved into our district. Some of these people have not yet learned to speak or read English. A group of people who have giving them ESL* lessons asked if they could use our church building for their lessons. Because of our background in teaching children with learning difficulties, my wife and I have commenced helping those with the poorest grasp of English.

Just one problem: they know very little English, and we know NO Chinese.

How do we communicate?

We have learned very quickly that we need to keep things extremely simple. We use mime frequently, we smile a lot and laugh at each other’s mistakes. It has made us reassess the very basics of our language, the building blocks of English and how it all works to make communication possible.

I’m so glad our six students are so well behaved; they really do want to learn and that makes all the difference.

[*ESL means English as a Second Language]


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