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International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL) ISSN 2249-6912 Vol. 3, Issue 4, Oct 2013, 129-136 © TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.

ROAD MAP TO BASIC COMMUNICATION P. SREEHARI RAJU1 & BH V N LAKSHMI2 1

Associate Professor of English, Shri Vishnu Engineering College for Women, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India 2

Professor of English, Shri Vishnu Engineering College for Women, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India

ABSTRACT In this modern context, learning English has become quite essential for every student irrespective of specialization. Though there are various methods that facilitate second language acquisition, a new learner still stumbles to choose the best. For a non-native learner who has some acquaintance with English needs a simple method that can train him/her to speak or write flawlessly. Encountering learners from both rural and urban environs enabled us to focus on forging a simple and easy method so that teaching-learning process becomes more effective. There is a systematic approach to learning grammar rules and the learner has to go step by step without any deviation from it. For convenience we presented the whole process in five ‘Road Signs.’ Meant for sharing and not mere instruction, this paper gives a bird’s eye view of a teaching method useful for any new learner wishing to improve essential communication in English.

KEYWORDS: Communication, Action Words, Time Words INTRODUCTION Modern world has removed all the physical barriers and made the world a single place to live together. Communication provides a binding effect to this nuclear world. There are thousands of languages on the globe but English is one of the major languages that has become lingua franca. Thus, global communication is possible with the omnipresence of English. In this modern context, learning English has become quite essential for every student irrespective of specialization. Though there are various methods that facilitate second language acquisition, a new learner still stumbles to choose the best. For a non-native learner who has some acquaintance with English needs a simple method that can train him/her to speak or write flawlessly. Encountering learners from both rural and urban environs enabled us to focus on forging a simple and easy method so that teaching-learning process becomes more effective. The method that we are discussing in this article is drawn out of our own observations and experiments in the process of enabling learners from different social strata to acquire language skills. There is an important distinction made by linguists between language acquisition and language learning. Language acquisition is associated with acquiring mother tongue/first language through a subconscious process during which one is unaware of grammatical rules. It comes through communicative process. Whereas Language learning is associated with acquiring second language through direct instruction of the rules of language and is non-communicative. The present method is based on the idea that very essentials of a language can be taught easily without intervening grammar terminology and creating the conscience of grammar rules in the mind of a learner. We firmly believe this philosophy. Road Signs There is a systematic approach to learning grammar rules and the learner has to go step by step without any


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deviation from it. While journeying to an unknown destiny, road signs and milestones guide the traveler. It is same with learning new things either a language or something else. So for the convenience we presented the whole process in five ‘Road Signs.’ 

Road Sign I - ‘helping verbs’ as ‘time words’

Road Sign II - ‘action verbs’ as ‘action words’

Road Sign III - Tenses as four different categories: a) Future activities b) Going on activities c) Finished activities d) All time activities

Road Sign IV - The role of do forms

Road Sign V - Special action words

Road Sign VI – Essential Practice Our attempt is to introduce an idea that can give a clear picture about how ideas or thoughts are expressed

effortlessly facilitating basic communication. For example, one will come up with an idea or thought that one is going to do in future. That idea or thought is expressed in future time since it is likely to happen in future. This type of activity is categorized as ‘future activities.’ Once these future activities are perceived one will start implementing them at a particular time. These implementing actions are called ‘going on activities.’ As a further step, any continuous activity will end up after some time. This process of ending the activity is ‘a finished activity.’ Apart from this step by step process of any activity, there is one more activity that moves from past to future. Such activities are ‘all time activities.’ They are generally ‘present habits or facts for some time or all the time.’ Road Sign I As a first step in the process of learning, the learner has to know the ‘Time Words’ that show the differences of time. For convenience we are giving the table here. Table 1 Is, are, am Has, have Do, does Was, were Had Did Will Shall May Can

Present time words

Past time words

Future time words

Road Sign II After acquiring this knowledge, a learner has to concentrate on the finer and comprehensive aspect of ‘Action words’. For instance, ‘speak’ is an action word which has the conjugation of ‘speak – spoke – spoken.’ This has to be studied in detail because the comprehensive study will act like a road map that enables the learner to use language confidently and correctly. In addition to the three forms of an action word, a learner has to know more about other forms that can be derived from the first form and the third form since the whole idea is based on teaching


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Road Map to Basic Communication

without the influence of grammar. The second form is not influenced by any other external factor. This illustration will give a better idea since it is true that a picture is a worth of thousand words. Example: speak A Comprehensive Structure of Active Forms of an Action Word I form

II form

1.

Speak/speaks

2.

Will /shall speak

3.

Is, are, am Have been, has been ----------- speaking --------------------Was, were Had been

4.

III form

Have, has spoke

-------------- spoken Had

To speaK The learner must understand this concept and do a lot of written and oral practice until he is thorough with this.

When experimented in the class room this activity gave dramatic results. This also helped the young faculty in the institution to hone their communicative skill. Road Sign III As discussed earlier, activities are of four types: a) Future activities b) Going on activities c) Finished activities and d) All time activities. Future Activities The ‘future activities’ are expressed with ‘will’ or ‘shall.’ Now-a-days ‘will’ is more prominent in spoken English. The example sentences can be: 

‘She will go abroad for higher studies next year.’

‘I will do it today itself.’

Going on Activities Next to ‘future activities,’ ‘going on activities’ may be studied for easy grasping. The continuity of action is expressed with the help of ‘-ing’ form. For instance, going, standing, walking and talking. The continuity of activity is not complete unless it is used with a particular time in which the activity is going on. Say for example: If an action is going on in the present time, time words ‘is’ or ‘are’ or ‘am’ may be used and ‘was’ or ‘were’ can be applied if the time is past. Example sentences are: Present Time Progressive Activities:

I am watching an interesting serial on TV. She is listening to a song. They are moving to a new house.

Past Time Progressive Activities:

I was reading a book late in the night. The children were quarrelling early in the morning.

While dealing with ‘going on activities’, we have ignored to pay attention to the activity that is happening in future keeping in mind the less usage of ‘shall be’ or ‘will be’ at the basic level. Any learner can express a future idea with


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the simple form using will or shall. At a later stage, the learner feels at ease to use the other forms of will/shall. ‘Going on activities’ are two fold in English. One aspect is that a continuous activity says that some action is going on within the limitations of time such as present, past or future. For Example:

I am writing a letter. She was eating a fruit during dinner last night.

Another aspect of ‘ongoing activity’ is that it probes into more details about a particular action going on with the help of ‘have been’ or ‘has been’ instead of ‘is’, ‘are’ ‘am’ or ‘was’ ‘were’. For Example:

I have been writing a letter for some time. She had been eating fruits for some time during lunch.

The learner has to learn the two aspects of it clearly in order to communicate effectively. Finished Activities As a further step, in continuation of the sequence of idea generation for initial practice, ‘finished activities’ may be studied. Any ‘finished activity’ requires careful study of action word forms that are used to express a completed action. Either the second form or the third form is used for a ‘finished activity’ and time plays an important role in deciding which form to be used for correct expression in English. For example, ‘sang’ and ‘sung’ are the second and third forms of ‘sing.’ The second form is used without any time word where as the third form is always used with a time word. The second form of an action word generally represents past time and does not require any time word. The third form of action word can indicate action either in the past time or in the present time depending on the time word that is used. For Example 

When the present time word ‘have’ or ‘has’ is used, it shows that the activity is finished in the present time only. o

I have done it just now.

o

She has already visited that place.

In basic communication, the second form of action word is more frequent in expressing a past action rather than ‘had’ with the third form. For example o I saw a movie last week. o She came home today morning. Also, when the past time word ‘had’ is used, it shows that the activity is also finished in the past time similar to

that of second form but the usage of ‘had’ with action word is not that frequent in English, unless it refers to earlier action of the two past actions. For Eg 

I had already slept when my father came home. (Here, ‘had slept’ is an earlier past activity to that of ‘came’, which is also a past activity.)


Road Map to Basic Communication

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He had eaten dozens of chocolates before I gave him some more. (Here, ‘had eaten’ is an earlier past activity to that of ‘gave’, which is also a past activity.) Here, it is not advisable to teach the learner about the aspect of future finished activity. For eg: I shall have finished my MS by next year. (future finished activity) In the basic communication a future finished action we can express the above sentence simply using ‘will’ or

‘shall’ to indicate a future finished action. For Eg: I will complete my MS next year. As a further step in the process of teaching, the learner is taught the different expressions used for future activities in addition to ‘will’ or ‘shall’. 

‘Be going to’ means ’will’ or ‘shall’: Eg: I am going to teach you a grammar topic. (which means ‘I will teach you a grammar topic.’)

‘Be about to’ means ‘will do it very soon’: Eg: I am about to do it. (which means ‘I will do it very soon.’)

‘I am going to Hyderabad.’ This is a very common way of expressing a future idea already planned. This particular continuous form in the present time is very intimate and friendly of saying things that happen in

near future. Other examples are: 

My father is visiting us tomorrow.

She is coming in a minute.

We are all meeting his tonight. Later, the learner must be taught different types of sentences using time words since these time words have a

major role in framing sentences for a variety of expression. When a speaker is reluctant to give a positive reply, he will use ‘nt’ or ‘not’ with time words like: I am not going out now. I haven’t done it yet. She was not feeling happy. When the speaker enquires about something, the time words come before the subject. He will invariably ask like this: Are you free now? Where are you going to? Have you done your assignment? This type of practice will enhance the skills of any learner and get a solid foundation in his/her basic communication.


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All Time Activities In the next phase, the learner must be taught the last aspect of the activity ‘all time activities.’ This aspect of learning is a different one from all the others because it has present, past and future times in it and hence, extend from past time to future time. ‘All time activities’ can be used with first form action words such as, ‘go’, ‘goes’ and ‘come’, ‘comes.’ When it comes to the usage of ‘-s’ or ‘-es’ form, only subjects other than ‘I’, ‘we’ and ‘you’ take this form. On the other hand, form without ‘-s’ is considered. These expressions are either facts or present habits and are used to express such ideas or thoughts. The illustrative sentences given below can give a clear idea about this rule. Singular Subject

Plural Subject

1.

Bird flies

1.

Birds fly

2.

River flows

2.

Rivers flow

3. Flower blooms

3.

Flowers bloom

4. Scorpion stings

4.

Scorpions sting

5. Rani goes to college

5.

Her two sisters go to college

6.

6.

I visit that place quite often

He goes there rarely.

Now, the learner is taught certain expressions which express future time other than the use of ‘will’ or ‘shall’. Road Sign IV: The role of do forms. As a further step in acquiring basic communication skill, the first form verb has to be studied carefully because it requires ‘do, does’ in framing enquiries and ‘do not, does not’ in giving a negative answer for a present time activity or ‘did, did not’ for a past time activity. The following rules give a clear idea about it. 

The first form verb takes either ‘do’ or ‘do not’ where as the first form with ‘–s’ takes ‘does not’ in the present time.

The past time activities always take ‘did’ or ‘did not.’ Don’t, doesn’t and didn’t are the spoken forms of do not, does not and did not.

For Example Present Time 

They ask many questions.

Do they ask questions?

They do not ask questions.

Don’t they ask questions?

Past Time 

She gave me the book.

Did she give you the book?

They did not go there.

Didn’t they go there?

The very important thing that a learner should remember while enquiring or saying ‘no’ in the past time is that the framing word ‘did’, ‘didn’t’ or ‘did not’ only take the first form after it and not otherwise. This is the most import aspect in acquiring language skills correctly and appropriately.


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Road Map to Basic Communication

For Example: He spoke to me.

He did not speak to me.

Did he speak to her father?

Road Sign V: Special action words One more step in the process of acquiring very essential basic communication skill, some worlds play an important role and require some special attention to understand them. Generally, any ‘going on activity’ needs an action word with ‘-ing’ form which shows the continuity of activity. But in the case of some words, even the first forms (Eg: understand, understands) can provide this idea of progressiveness. These words are generally said to be involuntary actions that happen without any involvement and also words related to process of mind such as: think, understand, love, hate, forget and remember. Some illustrative sentences are provided to prove this. 

I think you are on the way. (Here, ‘I think’ implies the sense of ‘I am thinking’ and no –ing form is required.)

I still remember those college days. (Here also the activity is continuous but is not expressed with ‘-ing’ form.)

I hear a strange noise. (This is a going on activity but used with the first form.) Even words like ‘have’ and ‘feel’ sometimes are not used in continuous form. For Example: 1. I have many friends. 2. I have an English class now. 3. She feels confident right now. / She is feeling confident. ‘Have’ is also used with ‘-ing’ form when the meaning is other than ‘possess’ or ‘own.’ For Eg: 1. I am having a great time. 2. She is having supper. 3. They are taking head bath.

Road Sign VI: Essential Practice The basic communication learning ends with the practice of all these ideas in an easy approachable manner recapitulating all that has been taught for better grasping and easy assimilation of the whole communication process. It is easy to practice first by introducing ‘future activity’, next an ‘ongoing activity’ and a ‘finished activity’. The practice goes like this: Step One: I am going to teach you a grammar topic. / I will teach you a grammar topic. Step Two: I am teaching you the lesson. Step Three: I have taught you the lesson. Step Four: I taught you the lesson a few minutes ago. The following examples give the sequence of activities that are thought to happen one after the other and the learner is strongly advised to do it to recap his basic communication abilities in the initial stages and later the learner will be able to communicate an idea or thought effortlessly.


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I am going to receive a phone call. / I will receive a phone call. I am getting a phone call. I have received a phone call. I received a phone call half an hour ago.

I am going to read the book. / I will read the book. I am reading the book. I have read the book. I read the book last night.

Look! It is raining. I am going to take the umbrella. I am holding it in my hand. I have opened it to go out. Now I am ready to go out. I took the umbrella some time back. Practicing in this way facilitates the learner and enhances his/her basic communication ability.

CONCLUSIONS There are many approaches to basic communication in English. Language experts like A S Hornby, Michael Swan have developed many useful methods of teaching English as a second language. Inspired by these writers, we have formulated a simple method, tried and tested it while training undergraduate students who are from the regional language (Telugu) of Andhra Pradesh, India as their medium of instruction. On request, we extended this even to faculty of various disciplines at Shri Vishnu Engineering College for Women. The outcome is very effective in the aspect of acquiring the very essential basic communication skill in English language. Meant for sharing and not mere instruction, this paper gives a bird’s eye view of a teaching method useful for any new learners wishing to improve their essential communication in English.

REFERENCES 1. Hornby, A.S. Teaching of Structural Words and Sentence Patterns. Oxford University Press, 1959. 2. Murphy, Raymond. Essential English Grammar. Cambridge University Press, 2012 3. Taylor, Grant. English Conversation Practice. Mc Graw Hill Education, 2004. 4. Michael, Swan. Basic English Usage. Oxford University Press, 2009. 5. http://www.talkenglish.com/Grammar/Grammar-speaking.aspx 6. Trierweiler, Sonja. “Basic Grammar Leads to Basic Communication.” http://writing.msu.edu/basic-grammar-leads-to-basic-communication/

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