Understanding the principles of Communication Psychology for TEFL Educator

By communication psychology, we mean to study the human behaviour that affects the communication process and vice versa. In most of the cases, we see that people generally consider the communication process for granted and think that communication between two or more people is not very important. Nevertheless, in reality it is very different and the practice of communication is actually strikingly complex.

As per the TEFL in-class courses, trainers or teachers need to understand the concept of communication psychology in order to address the class.

  • Talking about the Maslow’s theory:

According to Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist most people will respond positively to messages that will meet their particular needs at particular times. In other words, our needs determine our reaction to the messages circulated. To be a successful communicator, you should be able to determine the needs of the people or of the learners, because the same is required in teaching. Furthermore, you should also be able to discern the effects of your communication, through your body language and the audience.

  • What are the key features of the communication psychology?

The principles of communication psychology in TEFL in-class courses for the trainers are as follows:

need determines the behaviour in the communication process.

Second, body language determines the behavioural pattern.

Third, verbal language determines the way a learner behaves.

  • How needs determine behaviour ?

We shall make use of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand its influence on the communication process. According to Maslow, there are five sets of needs:

a) Basic Physical Needs – Consider that you are attending an education seminar, which begins at 8am. You have had a good breakfast, and you are comfortable and attentively listening to the speaker. Now when you come at 12 noon, you can feel that your behaviour begins to change. You begin to feel hungry and are restless, and begin to lose concentration. Here we can determine that your physical need has affected your learning behaviour.

b) The Need to be Safe – Let’s imagine a situation, you got news from your neighbour that someone broke into his flat last night and there was a heavy loss.

Such news shatters your sense of safety and security and you are disturbed. You can no longer pay attention to your regular curriculum. There could be many other reasons that could affect your sense of security and alter your behaviour. This altered behaviour could influence the reception of communication adversely.

c) Need to Belong – We communicate freely with family and friends who provide us with a sense of belongingness. Even at workplace, we need to belong to a group to communicate without being inhibited. Opposed to the ideas of belonging is alienation, none of us wanted to be left out. This is one of the dreadful experiences that anyone could have.

d) Need to be Somebody – Another important need of human beings is to be recognised or respected. We can be identifiable, provided others recognise us in that way. Often, it is the attitude of others that indicates whether they respect us or not. Every child wants attention and as TEFL educator, after doing your TEFL in-class courses, you really need to consider unique ways when approaching each child.

e) Need to Help Others to Be Creative – Willingness to help people who are still struggling on the weaker students using and encouraging their creative skills that can deliver in making a better quality of life for everyone around.

These above mentioned aspects of the communication process are universal no matter what the topic is. Paying conscious attention to these factors will lead you to an effective and successful teaching-learning process.


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