English: Communicating Effectively

By Shabnum Budhwani

Did you know that there are over 160 different languages spoken in Toronto?

Naturally, each language has differences in pronunciation, speed, intonation, gestures, body language even the pitch or loudness or softness with which it is articulated (spoken).

How boring it would be if all of us had the same accents or the same way of communicating. It would be like a uniform. Can you imagine all of us in the world being like carbon copies of one another? All the charm and richness would be lost. Change is what keeps us moving and going forward, in the same way our differences – even though they may be challenging at times – are what help us to develop as a global society.

Much of the progress that has been made by the human race today is as a result of advanced means of communication - the ability to effectively share and transmit knowledge. What would happen if people knew things but could not communicate it to other people? Would the world have become so global then? Would we have been able to make the advances that we have in technology, science or medicine?

Usually, when we think of communication we think of talking (or writing letters or e-mails). But communication is much more than that. We can also communicate without talking by using sign language, body language or even silence.

As a newcomer to Canada I am sure you will try to integrate into Canadian society, adapt to the new lifestyle, the workplace culture, and the weather so that you can feel at home as quickly as possible.

You bring a vast range of skills (including life skills), qualifications, and knowledge with you to your new home country. You have so much to contribute and you want to start now.

What Are You Waiting For?

It is necessary for you to learn good communication skills in order to share with others what you have to offer. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing so much but being unable to get it across to other people. Learning to do that will do more than anything else to improve your confidence, self worth and self-esteem.

Having effective communication tools helps us in our job search and professional lives too. Many people fail in interviews because they are not able to speak well enough and to paint a mental picture in the minds of the employer about what they can do and what their skill sets are.

What is Your Problem?

Sometimes people are conscious of the fact that they have an accent. They think that they should change their accent in order to “fit in” or be accepted in society or in the workplace. It is not the “accent” that helps you to fit in or not. More important than the accent is the clarity (clearness) of information you are communicating and how well the other person is able to grasp it. Remember that Toronto is a very multicultural city and you will come across a variety of different accents from all over the world.

Communication is a skill that can be developed and worked upon. There are many different ways you can do this. By listening to and observing other people you learn new words and phrases and improve your vocabulary. Watching television and movies not only improves your listening skills but also helps you to understand different accents. Another excellent way is by reading aloud, not only does it help to improve your pronunciation and punctuation, but also your pitch and tone of voice thus improving your clarity. Regular use of a dictionary is one of the best ways of expanding your knowledge and use of different words. Also why not attend an ESL course in communication at one of the many ESL centres in the city? In the end be patient with yourself, communication is a lifelong, learning process.

CNM