Twenty-first century human beings communicate in more ways than ever: Facebooking, tweeting, Snapchatting, texting, emailing, messaging… But, whatever technology we are using, we can only effectively exchange information if we have mastered the four time-old skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
The ancient art of communicating
The word ‘communicate’ derives from the Latin verb ‘communicare’, meaning ‘to share’. And there lies the reason for the evolution of language – to enable humans to share information, ideas and feelings.
When people understand and are proficient in using a common language, information can be successfully conveyed, ideas can grow and feelings can be expressed. If someone has not mastered a shared language or communication skills, the result can be frustration, misunderstandings, missed opportunities and, in the worst cases, social isolation.
The development of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are central to the English National Curriculum. Yet, The Literacy Trust says one in six people in the UK struggle with literacy (the combination of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills).
What’s more, in 2016 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found young people in England had the lowest levels of literacy in the developed world.
So how can we help children and adults to develop their communication skills?
Helping children develop literacy skills
Speaking and listening skills begin to develop from the first day of a baby’s life. This stage, known as emergent literacy, forms the foundation for the development of all communication skills in the years to come. By sharing books, stories, songs and rhymes with babies and toddlers, parents can inspire a love of words and boost their child’s chances of reaching high levels of literacy at school and beyond.
While there is no doubt that a love of words and reading are the fuel for developing communication skills, an Ofsted report published in March 2012, entitled Moving English Forward, found some schools were not currently giving ‘enough thought to ways of encouraging the love of reading’. Parents that continue to read, sing, make up stories and – crucially – talk with their children throughout their child’s school life can help to nurture that all-important love of reading and language, even if their child is not fully engaged by activities in the classroom.
Communication skills for academic success
Some parents choose to enlist additional support from private tutors to help develop their child’s communication skills. Private tutors provide one-to-one attention and support, and can address individual and specific needs and difficulties during the critical development stages.
One-to-one private tuition is also invaluable for helping children develop the more complex communication skills required for success in GCSEs , AS and A Levels, and for University and Higher Education.
Reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are all tested by GCSE English while also being essential for success in every GCSE and A Level subject. All examinations require students to read or listen to questions carefully, comprehend what is required, organise their thoughts and plan and deliver clear and coherent answers, whether on paper or orally.
Literacy support from local DBS-checked tutors
Home School Tutoring (HST) has provided quality home tuition to students in primary and secondary school, college and university for over 30 years. A rigorous registration procedure ensures that all tutors are suitably qualified and committed to delivering attentive and effective tuition. Certificates of qualifications are verified, references are obtained, and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is made to verify candidates’ suitability.
Margaret Sweetland, the Owner and Director of Home-School Tutoring UK, says: “Communication skills are the bedrock for academic success, and our tutors have helped students from primary school-age through to university overcome difficulties with both written English and oral skills so that they can face SATs, the 11-plus, GCSEs, A Levels and other exams with confidence.”
Contact your Area Advisor (using your preferred communication method!)
Home-School Tutoring’s Area Advisors are available to provide advice to parents considering home tutoring, and can match pupils with local tutors who are suited to their needs.
You can find contact details for their local Area Advisor on our locations page or by entering your postcode in the search box at the top of this page.
Home-School Tutoring is also currently inviting applications from teachers and specialists with fantastic communication skills! See Become a Tutor for details.