How do we communicate?

After interacting with a group of children at a SOLE  in India via Skype yesterday, I couldn’t help but reflect on the different ways communication can take place. A conversation with Chetan, Akansha, Pravin and the others could have been doomed by the potential obstacles…

  • I had never met this group and it was the first time they interacted with a ‘foreigner’.
  • Our backgrounds are as different as you could possibly imagine.
  • We don’t speak the same language.I know 5 words of Hindi and no Marathi. Their English is very limited.
  • Although we had video, the sound wasn’t working. They could occasionally hear me. I couldn’t hear them at all.
Here’s what we achieved…
  • We communicated for almost an hour by text, hand gestures and smiles.
  • I learned some Hindi words (see above!)
  • I shared pictures of animals and they saw a kangaroo for the first time.
  • They told me their ages and how many people in their families.
  • They asked about my children and I showed them a photo.
  • I learned where Mahbalshour is and next time I will show them Australia on the map.
  • We made faces and laughed.
I love the paradox of being able to use modern communication technology like Skype to interact with people anywhere, but then having to resort to the most basic forms of communication like hand gestures and making faces!
Here’s what I learned from some of my other SOLE experiences:

5 thoughts on “How do we communicate?

  1. Hey, Edna – a couple of months ago, I saw a beta version of live chat translation in Google Talk being demonstrated. I wonder how your communication would have been with you typing in English and them reading Hindi – and vice versa? Different, and probably better in terms of communication, but I can’t help thinking that something charming and important would have been lost too…

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  2. That’s how I communicated yesterday with my mother-in-law in Australia! She had inadvertently muted her microphone so we had some fun trying to get it back working.
    I agree though, while new technology is amazing there is nothing like body language and facial expressions to really get your message across.

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  3. Hi Edna,
    Lovely to know that a ‘different’ group connected today… so the news is traveling! And it just might work… Lets make the most of your school holidays, shall we? And see what changes take place even in this short time. The group you spoke to on Tuesday will be there again on Thursday and Saturday, today’s should be there on Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays..

    One interesting comment, following the faces Akanksha was making at you 🙂 , was their thrill that they could do this with an older ‘authority’ figure. They absolutely can’t imagine doing something like this with one of their teachers! Now if feeling free encourages them to ask questions and learn…. I am all for it. More later [information about the group]

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  4. Edna,
    What a way to connect with other educators & other students around the world! It’s a great way to show our students that they are global citizens. We all need to become more culturally proficient to understand the complexities of our rapidly evolving world. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction!
    Safina Noorani

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