skilled interpersonal communication to nurture

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ELT, there has been little attention given to studies in its prominent role. Therefore, this paper will ... Keywords: skilled model, interpersonal communication, autonomy, intrinsic motivation, ... rely on the written curriculum (e.g. syllabus, teaching ...

SKILLED INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION TO NURTURE AUTONOMOUS AND INTRINSIC ENGLISH LEARNING Adriadi Novawan Politeknik Negeri Jember, Indonesia [email protected] Abstract The nature of pedagogic practice in ELT and other educational setting is inseparable from the interpersonal behaviors of teacher. Moreover, theoretical and empirical evidence on the centrality of interpersonal communication in teaching is abundant. However, particularly in ELT, there has been little attention given to studies in its prominent role. Therefore, this paper will unpack the notion of skilled interpersonal communication which is aimed at negotiating consensus on reshaping ELT approach in light of autonomy and intrinsic motivation. It will start with a discussion on the idea of classroom as social system which underpins the centrality of skilled interpersonal communication in pedagogical encounters. A model developed by Owen Hargie is employed and its aspects are addressed as a framework. Then studies and researches will be presented in support of its imperativeness in the teaching and learning context. Keywords: skilled model, interpersonal communication, autonomy, intrinsic motivation, English language teaching

1. Introduction Extensive studies elaborated in [1] demonstrate positive relationships between the quality of interpersonal skill and the benefits of it, such as: mental well-being [2], successful relationship, and enhanced academic/ professional attainments [3], [4]. Otherwise, without effective interpersonal skills, communication occurs in the absence of awareness and reflectivity that easily drives the communicators into social and psychological predicaments, as in [1], [2], and [5]. The gains from having such interpersonal skills in more systemic view refer to social capital [1]. The tenet of social capital confirms the emergence of skilled model that promotes self-efficacy for fruitful interactions [1]. This model highlights ‘intentionality, learning, control, and synchronization of behavior [6] which suggests that getting involved in the ‘flowing’ social interactions without having considerable control on our own interpersonal behaviors is insufficient 250

for quality life. Hence, a postulate behind the notion is that interpersonal communication skill can be learned and nurtured to reach a repertoire which enables one to create profound social capital [1]. Particularly in English Language Teaching context, the role of interpersonal communication has little been addressed and studied. Therefore, this paper aims to sustain the imperativeness of skilled interpersonal communication in the context of ELT particularly to nurture autonomous learning and intrinsic motivation which are vital in educational setting. 2. Classroom as social system and its implications The centrality of interpersonal communication in education setting gains a strong support from the tenet of classroom as social system [7], [8], [9]. Classroom situation, in this point of view, encompasses values, beliefs, cognition and emotion which

Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015

effect on behavior of either the students or the teacher. Thus, the nature of social encounters in it is dynamic and complex [10], [11], [12]. In the complexity of learning, ELT and other educational practices are challenged to respond it epistemologically and ontologically. When learning a foreign language, the students learn the social meaning of the language and how to use it for meaningful social purposes as human being. Thus, the teaching and learning process needs to nurture the development of student social capacity interpersonally and interculturally. The notion of social capacity implies that classroom learning will be meaningful when there is a strong link between what happens inside and outside the classroom. The notion of teaching and learning as the teacher’s formal presentation of knowledge is therefore insufficient since learning is a meaning-making process which is interpersonal, context-dependent, and dynamic [1], [9], [13]. Teaching and learning which is seen as social activity does not only rely on the written curriculum (e.g. syllabus, teaching materials, handouts, etc), but also on the way the teacher manages interactions and power relations [7], [8], [11], [14], [15]. Consequently, a teacher is not a ‘teaching device’ [13] but a person who has values and capability to influence students learning through social encounters inside and outside the classroom on the basis of interpersonalinstructional vision integrated into particular pedagogical framework. 3. Skilled model of interpersonal communication The skilled interpersonal communication addressed in this paper is adopted from Reference [1] which is underpinned by two central principles: intersubjectivity—trying to understand the students first and being understood by them in turn, and impact—the extent to which teacher’s message influences students’ thoughts, feelings, or behavior. There are six interrelated elements characterizing the model: person-situation context, goal-

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oriented, mediating processes, response, feedback, and perception. Firstly, the model is characterized with the prominence of dyadic interaction within a person-situation framework. To be applied in ELT classroom, this model supports particular teaching approaches and methods which are more individualized and learnercentered which emphasizes the importance of students’ participation and autonomy during the teaching and learning process within the communicative or contextual settings created by teacher. Factors such as knowledge, motives, personality, attitudes and emotions shape the interactive process in respect of goals pursued, perceptions, and interaction patterns [1]. Concerning with goals, classroom as a social process becomes an intersection between teacher’s and students’. The notion of skilled interpersonal communication suggests that all social interactions have particular goal which comprises content (what to achieve) and process (how) properties. Even in a spontaneous encounter when the interaction suddenly occurs, the communicators communicate on behalf of their particular purposes either previously generated or “ongoingly” generated while speaking. It is common for a teacher to take for granted those from the curriculum and somewhat coercively directs the students’ learning based on the goals. However, the challenge of ELT teachers at this age is whether to adopt more humanist approach by giving sufficient room for students to be autonomous learners or merely to drill them with the teaching materials in a rigid syllabus-driven setting. The other element, mediating processes, involves approaches and ways devised to implement goals, to anticipate effects, and to determine a plan of action. These mediating processes are actually reflected from ways a teacher conceptualizes interactive teaching strategies which are creative, intuitive, and reflective. In practice within pedagogical interactions, flexibility is inevitable since a teacher may not be able to rely on fixed and prescriptive teaching procedures which can

Proceeding: Proceeding: International International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Foreign Language Language(COTEFL), (COTEFL), 2015 2015

impose autonomous learning. Flexibility does not mean in the absence of instructional plan. Teacher always needs to plan her/his teaching especially in the level of conceptual framework. Related to the skilled model, such conceptual framework is manifested into particular teaching approaches which appreciate inter-subjectivity, for instance inquiry-based, reflective teaching, and other interactional approaches. Moreover, the skilled model construes that perception is central to behavioral changes of students and influenced by instructional and interpersonal practices performed by teacher such as those in managing the class, questioning, giving response and feedback. In this case, the value of formativeness is encouraged to be included integral to the teaching approach. The way the teacher responds and appreciates dispositions, achievements and failures as a person who has passion and values greatly matters. 4. The advantages of skilled model Reference [17] and [18] present predicaments resulted from particular pedagogical practices such as the syllabusdriven, knowledge-oriented, or productoriented teaching. These practices were found to be very instrumental vis a vis meaningful, consequently gave negative impacts on the student motivation. It demonstrates that the reality of classroom learning could be far from sociallymeaningful experience. However, viewing the class as a social system that encourages in-depth interpersonal interactions might provide priceless advantage in improving the quality of teaching and learning process. In this case, skilled interpersonal communication is important to encourage teachers to define the appropriate strategy in order to behave more effectively within a set of instructional implementation [19]. In general, the literature suggests that teacher’s interpersonal communication strengthen the relationship between teacher 252

and students which is a strong basis for nurturing engaging classroom environment [7], [15], [20]. This environment stimulates the students’ motivation of learning and emboldens the development of their social skills, as in [21]. When the students’ social skills are developed and they are motivated and excited to learn, the learning process fruitfully results in academic achievements [7], [11], [14]. Strengthening teacher-student relationship Studies in [7], [15], [20], and [22] reveal that good interpersonal communication positively influences the relationship between teacher and students. Since this relationship is foundational to the whole classroom activities [15], the quality of teacher’s interpersonal skills is determinant and central to the building of strong relationships that affects the overall learning process. Based on framing theory in Reference [8], when the teacher emphasizes on his/her role and influence in more formal approach, the boundary of relation between the teacher and the students will be strong (strong framing). On the other hand, when the teacher’s proximity is higher and the students’ disposition is given much room through interactions, the boundary will be weak (weak framing). In dynamic classroom context, weak framing strategy could be worthwhile since it somewhat represents the teacher’s willingness and motivation to engage in the students learning context more deeply in autonomous learning. In this situation, teacher’s manners and characters are manifested into their interpersonal behaviors through verbal (e.g. intonation, pitch, volume, accent, and rate of speech) and non-verbal communication (e.g. kinesics, proxemics, etc) and result in the appropriate degree of influence and proximity [15], [23], [24]. In this case, the appropriate interpersonal strategy helps teachers nurture classroom interactions that results in a strong social relationship [7], [9], [13].

Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015

Nurturing engaging classroom climate Creating engaging classroom climate is uneasy to do. However, when the process of teaching and learning is based on good relationship between teacher and students, classroom climate could be created more effectively [7], [10]. Concerning this, teacher’s interpersonal behavior is influential to maintain good social relationship during the learning process and establish favorable condition for effective learning [20]. Elaborating instructional and interpersonal skills into a variety of learning activity and teaching modes is found to be pivotal to nurture positive learning environment which is signified by profound engagement and ownership of learning process [10]. Based on empirical evidence, Reference [11] finds that interpersonal attitudes of teacher have a strong correlation with the mental attitudes of learners. When the teacher is collaborative and accepting to the students, they will respond and engage in the teaching more actively and influence the learning atmosphere. Teachers with good interpersonal communication skills are perceived by the students to be more pleasant, friendly, and helpful [7], [9], [20]. Intrinsically motivating The evidence that teacher’s interpersonal behaviors strongly influence the student motivation is compelling e.g. in [11]. The way the teacher talks and behaves either formally or informally matters to the students. Teachers with good interpersonal communication skills tend to be successfully inspiring students to learn and advance their academic [7], [11], [20]. They plan the instructional action, nevertheless, are flexible for creative alternatives [25] and for unpredictable situations occurred within the interactions [10]. Additionally, studies in [10] and [26] found that teachers’ motives are influential determinant to the actual implementation of interpersonal interactions. Teachers who know the students’ needs and are passionate, and use their disposition to interact with 253

them are prolifically motivating for academic development [11]. The supports are manifested through the teacher’s interpersonal behaviors which are warm, sensitive, responsive, proactive, emotion coaching, induction and the likes which encourage active engagement in learning [22]. Developing the students’ social capacity for academic achievement A research investigating the extent to which teacher’s behavior influences the students’ learning is carried out in [21]. The finding reveals that teacher’s influence is found larger on the students’ social skills development than that on their academic development. Moreover, the development of students’ social skills is identified to influence positively the development of their academic later. In this case, the effectiveness learning is considered more dependent on power relation that shapes the students’ social skills, while the academic development could respectively results from it. This evidence suggests that the more skilled the teacher’s interpersonal communication, the better the influence on the students’ social capacity development will be. The higher the students’ social capacity, the better the academic development will be. This finding strengthens the correlation between interpersonal communication and the tenet of learning to learn or learning how to learn investigated in [27], [28] and assessment for learning or assessment is for learning as in [18] which principally promote the development of learning autonomy and metacognitive skill in respect of interactional approach [28]. The finding depicts that interpersonal communication embedded on the teacher’s instructional and interpersonal competence productively encouraged the development of students’ autonomy for future academic achievement. 5. Teacher-student autonomy The advantages above suggest that interpersonal communication skill is

Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015

important when learning is intended not only to achieve certain technical skills but also to shape the student learning capacity. With the locus on instructional agenda, classroom learning will likely result in technical and cognitive-oriented achievements. But with the emphasis on interpersonal modalities, there will be spaces for nurturing the student autonomy. The notion of autonomy has been addressed in a very broad educational setting. Particularly in language teaching, autonomy is defined as a capacity or an attitude for taking control active learning which construe knowledge of how to learn and motivation to learn [29]. Reference [30] clarifies that autonomy encompasses wider aspects than self-regulation. Self regulation is a control over cognitive, emotional, motivational, and behavioral aspect of learning. Whilst autonomy includes not only self regulation, but also capability of taking responsibility for the content, learning management, and social environment in which learning takes place [31], [32]. Reference [33] provides an extensive conceptualization of autonomy by proposing a 3-dimension model—comprising of language competence, language learning competence and student choice. Language competence is more predicated on the individual cognitive and meta-cognitive behavior of students. Thus language learning competence refers to their capacity to deploy a range of cognitive and metacognitive strategies in the context faced. Integral to both dimensions is student choice. Autonomous learning does mean that students have control on their own learning including what being learned, the goal and the purpose. Albeit many studies provide compelling evidence-based perspectives related to autonomous learning, intrinsic motivation and success in language learning, little attention has been given to studies in the role of teacher agency in facilitating autonomous learning and intrinsic motivation.


Reference [29] catches this gap by stating: “...a shift in the field of learner autonomy towards a consideration of the role of the teacher and ways in which learner autonomy is bound up not only with the learners’ but also the teachers’ own learning and teaching experiences and their beliefs about autonomy....” (p. 269) Moreover, the emergence of teacher’s role in students’ autonomous learning and their interrelationship is also mentioned in [34], an extensive review, that looks at teacher-learner autonomy as interpersonal dynamics which share influence to each other. The author develops a theory of DIS (Dynamic Interrelational Space) which provides a tool for exploring the dynamic nature of teacher-student relationship. This theory offers a revitalization of agency theory in which the nature of autonomy relies on the interpersonal capacity of teacher and student, and this leads to further consideration for studies in the empowerment of teacher-student autonomy. 6. Conclusion Reference [13] states, ‘since teaching is an interpersonal process, it is impossible to remove one 's interpersonal style from it’ (p. 177). More importantly for teachers is being aware of their interpersonal values and their impacts on student autonomy. As addressed in this paper, the literature supports the incorporation of skilled model into the teaching and learning process and that teacher agency is essential part of it. With a skilled interpersonal communication, teacher builds a strong relationship with his/her students, nurtures engaging learning climate, motivates them to be autonomous, and develop their social capacity as foundation for the academic achievement. In order to value more on the capacity building of student-teacher autonomy, a teacher needs to turn to the notion of skilled interpersonal communication.

Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015


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Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015

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Proceeding: International Conference of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (COTEFL), 2015