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Introduction

This practice book has been designed for specialists in communication and is aimed at providing them with skills requisite for the analysis of communicative behaviour in different situations and spheres of human activity. The book is framed for individual work at home and in-class discussion and can assist the senior students of MSLU majoring in communication in the process of solving such practical tasks as disclosing the reasons of communicative failures and improving unsuccessful communication. It can also be of interest to advanced students of English at other universities.

The focus of the discipline “Interpretation of Communicative Behaviour” is to enable the students to adequately identify various communicative episodes and components of communicative situations presented in authentic English texts, estimate the results of the participants’ communicative behaviour and improve faulty communication.

The book covers essential topics associated with modern understanding of communication and its analysis, such as models and perspectives of analyzing communication, decoding messages (perception), encoding messages (spoken language and nonverbal communication), types of communication (interpersonal, group and mass communication), communicative strategies and tactics.

Each unit begins with the section Recap the Following Theoretical Issues that suggests some topics for revision. As the theoretical aspects under consideration are familiar to the fifth-year students of MSLU majoring in communication, theoretical material as such is not included in the book. The discipline focuses on practice in the first place. Nevertheless, revision of theory is an essential element of studying process as the practical analysis is carried out in accordance with a certain model/theory of communication.1

The practical tasks are divided into Identifying Aspects of Communication, Discussion, Follow-up and Problem-solving sections. These practical assignments (except for Problem-solving) are based on the texts for analysis and the corresponding theory. They are to be prepared at home and discussed in class. Identifying Aspects of Communication encourages the students to figure out and describe the main elements of the communicative episode under consideration. Discussion poses questions about a contestable issue on which the students should express their own opinion. Follow-up provides tasks that guide the students in the process of making mini presentations relying on the discussed texts and the requisite theory. Problem-solving is associated with role-playing and modelling particular communicative situations. In these tasks the students are encouraged to share their personal experience connected with the communicative phenomenon under study.

Unit 1 Defining Communication

Recap the following theoretical issues.

1. Does the notion “communication” include human behaviour only? Can animals communicate? Do inanimate objects communicate?

2. When you communicate with your pet (cat, dog etc.), what “language” do you speak? How many major differences between human and animal communication do you know?

3. Define communication. How many definitions of communication can you recall?

4. Is communication an intentional process only? Can unintentional behaviours be considered communication?

5. Who do you think plays a more important role in communication – the sender, who acts as a source of information and pursues a certain communicative goal, or the receiver, who assigns meaning to various stimuli in order to make sense of the world?

6. What symbolic codes do we use in the process of communication? Can non-symbolic behavior be called communication?

Task 1. Just Good Friends

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “Just Good Friends” by J. Archer and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. What type of communication is presented in the story? Can it be considered communication at all? Find corresponding clues in the text that helped you guess.

2. What is characteristic of animal communication, communication between human beings and animals?

3. What communicative means are used by the participants? To what extent is this type of communication limited? How can people overcome these limitations?

4. Are animals capable of expressing their emotions? Find evidence in the text.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following: “It’s a myth that we only swish our tails when we’re angry”. Is it easy for a person to understand “animal language”? Explain your point.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Relying on the text, prove that animal communication is inherently different from human communication (find at least two pieces of evidence to support your idea).

Task 2. Mr. Know All

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “Mr. Know All” by W.S. Maugham and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Why did the author dislike Max Kelada even before he knew him? What communicative phenomenon is illustrated here?

2. Speak about the role of verbal and nonverbal means of communication in the episode under consideration. Which means prevail? In what cases? Which ones are “more informative”?

3. Dwell on the problem of intentionality of communication. Are there nonverbal means that are used by Mrs. Ramsay and Mr. Kelada intentionally? Or are they examples of unintentional behavior? Find evidence in the text to prove your point of view. Is such communication symbolic or non-symbolic?

4. Do you think Mr. Kelada was bad at “reading” contextual clues and understanding indirect speech acts?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following: “Appearances are deceptive”.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative situation described in the story taking into account the sender, the receiver, symbolic nature of communication (the code), degree of intentionality.

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