So far, in these blog posts, we have looked at ways to improve your English listening, reading, and vocabulary. All of these skills are aimed at improving one thing, which I believe is the whole purpose of language learning, and that is having the ability to communicate (in English in this case). You have something which you want to share with another person or you want to understand what the other person is sharing with you. This is the goal of everybody who is learning a language.
So, this raises the questions: “What makes successful communication?” and “What are the barriers to successful communication?”
Well, in the broader sense, any communication which has been understood can be said to be successful. So, what can we do to make sure that we are understood and that we in turn understand? In this blog post we will look at some useful phrases which can help you in your everyday communication in English.
- To begin, let’s imagine that you are the speaker and that you want to check understanding among your listeners:
Are you with me so far?
Do you get what I’m saying?
Is this clear for you?
Do you follow?
- It is important to remember that the act of communication implies that two people (at least) are involved so now, you are the speaker and you want to involve somebody else in the conversation:
What do you think?
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you have anything you would like to say/add?
- You don’t want to suggest that everything that you say is 100% fact, so you can say:
In my opinion….
It is my belief that…..
According to me……
As far as I know………..
- Somebody has tried to move you away from the topic on which you are talking:
That may be but…..
I understand what you are saying, however….
I see your point but…….
It is not only whilst you are speaking that you can improve English communication skills though. Of course a large part of communication involves listening and also encouraging and helping the other person to say what they want to say and to be understood.
Probably the easiest way to encourage a speaker to continue and to let him or her know that you understand what they are saying is actually a non-verbal signal – and that is to make eye contact and to nod your head as they speak.
Let’s look also at some verbal signals in English you can give:
- You want the speaker to continue what they are saying (whilst nodding and making eye contact):
Yes, please go on.
Yes please, tell me more.
Tell me more about that.
- You want to check that you are understanding correctly:
So, if I understand correctly….
So, what I hear you saying is…..
So, you’re saying……
So, to re-cap…..
- You are having trouble understanding because the level of your English is not as high as the speaker:
Sorry, could you speak more slowly please?
Sorry, could you repeat that please?
Sorry, what does ‘……………’ mean?
Would you mind going over that again please?
- You would like to say something while the other person is speaking. It is important here to interrupt the other person politely:
Excuse me, if I could just interrupt a moment…
Could I add something here…
Sorry to interrupt but……
So, those are a few phrases to help you on your journey of communication. Communication is the fun part of English, so get out there and use them and remember what Jeff Daly said:
“Two monologues do not make a dialogue.”
And don’t forget to check back here for more English tips and see what some of those ‘barriers to communication’ are, that I mentioned earlier.