As a teacher, my audience is most often my students. Until now, I have rarely taken into consideration global communication when writing my lesson plans and assignments. However, considering the world my students are entering into, global communication is something that many of them are going to have to participate in. Part of my job is to prepare my 12th graders for the world beyond high school. As they get older, many jobs look for skilled communicators, and much of communication happens digitally in today’s society. As Dorreen Starke-Meyerring says, the internet is an “inherently global” network (487). Therefore, preparing my students to be global communicators should be part of my job and a skill which I consider when teaching my students how to listen, speak, read, and write.
Proving to students through job ads that effective communication is a necessary skill makes the necessity of the skills they are (hopefully) going to learn or continue to shape throughout the year undeniable. Professionally, Starke-Meyerring states that “They need to be able to collaborate effectively and ethically in global networks, using global network technologies to build trusting relationships and partnerships” (476). There is worth in these skills, and we can prove that to students through this quote and back it up with listed qualifications for job opportunities. How do we do approach this, though?
“Communication skills training is not necessarily directed at second language learners specifically,” it is now a necessary training for most, since our modes of communication are rapidly changing and our audience is growing (Cameron 70). Our students need this type of education and training. As discussed in my last blog post, beginning with social media could be an effective platform to build off of. Discussing how social media practices may differ in the professional world versus the personal is absolutely crucial. From there, just as I discussed scaffolding communication and community in general in my last post about social media, we can progress from social media communication to face-to-face communication, practicing the respectful, at times political, and clear rhetoric needed in the professional world.
Next, students must understand that they are part of a global community. This needs to be realized before we can present them with guidelines such as the ones from the Center of Journalism. These ethics will seem abstract to our students, I’m sure. However, if we can model how their blog posts and tweets need to be cognizant of the possible global audience who might encounter their words, it might finally sink in. From there, we can begin to teach ethics, good practice, and cultural understanding. We can even tie this back to the idea that considering not only the intended but the entire possible audience when composing an utterance is important to it success. It may be important to note here that the possible audience could also include employers or co-workers, and being aware of that can help guide our students’ future choices concerning social media to protect their reputation avoid unnecessary conflicts in the workplace.
The other consideration as a teacher in regard to global communication should be the very students who are sitting in our classrooms as a “global” audience. When I look around my classroom, I have various ethnicities, backgrounds, beliefs, and ambitions present, some of whom are bilingual, some of whom were born in another country, some of whom are very religious, to name just a few of the diversities. With that in mind, I must be considerate of their cultural beliefs and practices. I must be sensitive to how they might interpret certain lessons, examples, and stories throughout the year. This provides a great opportunity to model for students how to be a global communicator. When teaching them how they need to be aware of such things in their own communications, we can point to considerations we had and alterations we made in order to speak to a global audience.
Many teachers, too, are beginning to post lesson plans and activities online. Just like with the students, all that we put on the Internet becomes possible global communication. This is just one more reason why we need to begin to alter our own practices and make sure we are following the guidelines and ethics for understanding and communicating effectively with a global audience. Starke-Meyerring points out, “the Internet now allows professional communicators not only to access audiences around the world but also to actively engage them” (475). So, not only are teachers able to post lessons and activities online for the world to see and use, but in doing that, they invite conversation about whatever is posted. It becomes a discussion rather than a lecture. Modelling and teaching our students how to engage in these conversations will be crucial to their being an active citizen in the world as they continue on in their lives.
Participating in this global community and teaching our students how to do the same is crucial to preparing our students for the world which awaits them. They need to learn how to be global citizens in their online communications especially, but also in all communications. People travel frequently now over borders, and so this idea of global communication could take place in the grocery store, on the subway, at a sporting event, or any number of unexpected places. Teaching ourselves and our students how to approach the situation is an invaluable skill in this constantly moving and changing world.
Cameron, Deborah. “Globalization and the teaching of ‘communication skils.'” Globalization and Language Teaching. London: Routledge, 2002. Print
Starke-Meyerring, Doreen. “Meeting the Challenges of Globalization: A Framework for Global Literacies in Professional Communication Programs.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 19.468 (2005). Print.