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Conversation as a skill

Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous

communication between two or more people who are following
rules of etiquette. It is polite give and take of subjects thought of by
people talking with each other for company.
Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the
structure and organization of human interaction, with a more
specific focus on conversational interaction.

Definition and advantages

Contributions to a conversation are response reactions to what has
previously been said. They are essentially of an interactive nature.
Oftentimes, a conversation works unpredictably for expediency
purposes since it is of a spontaneous nature.
Conversations follow rules of etiquette because conversations
are social interactions, and therefore depend on social convention.
Specific rules for conversation are called the cooperative principle.
Failure to adhere to these rules devolves, and eventually dissolves
the conversation.
Conversations are sometimes the ideal form of communication,
depending on the participants' intended ends. Conversations may
be ideal when, for example, each party desires a relatively equal
exchange of information, or when one party desires to question the
other. On the other hand, if permanency or the ability to review
such information is important, written communication may be ideal.
Or if time-efficiency is most important, a speech may be

One element of conversation is discussion: sharing opinions on
subjects that are thought of during the conversation. In polite
society the subject changes before discussion becomes dispute.
For example, if theology is being discussed, no one is insisting a
particular view be accepted.
Many conversations can be divided into four categories according
to their major subject content:
Conversations about subjective ideas, which often serve to
extend understanding and awareness.
Conversations about objective facts, which may serve to
consolidate a widely held view.
Conversations about other people (usually absent), which may
be either critical, competitive, or supportive. This includes
Conversations about oneself, which sometimes indicate
attention-seeking behavior or can provide relevant
information about oneself to participants in the conversation.
Practically, few conversations fall exclusively into one category.
Nevertheless, the proportional distribution of any given
conversation between the categories can offer useful
psychological insights into the mind set of the participants. This is
the reason that the majority of conversations are difficult to
Most conversations may be classified by their goal. Conversational
ends may, however, shift over the life of the conversation.
Functional conversation is designed to convey information in
order to help achieve an individual or group goal.
Small talk is a type of conversation where the topic is less
important than the social purpose of achieving bonding
between people or managing personal distance.
Banter is non-serious conversation, usually between friends,
which may rely on humour or in-jokes at the expense of
those taking part. The purpose of banter may at first appear
to be an offensive affront to the other person's face.
However, people engaging in such a conversation are often
signaling that they are comfortable enough in each other's
company to be able to say such things without causing harm.


Daniela Nbrega studies it. Oral interaction make us reevaluate our
teaching practice, especially directed to the oral performance in the
classroom. But how can we take advantages from these studies in
order to teach effectively? The purpose of this work is to provide a brief
overview on oral interaction studies focusing on, and reflecting upon
the researchers claims related to the learning process of English as a
Foreign Language. oral interaction have received nfluence of the
socio-interactional strand of discourse by showing that the socio-cultural
aspects, implicit in the speech act of participants, are present in the
negotiation of meaning in the classroom context


Eduard Bono studies thinking as THE 6TH skill.

Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas
(1992), que es la suma de sus muchas ideas acerca de la creatividad.
How to Have A Beautiful Mind (2004)

Thinking focuses in the information available and needed. Examines

the difficulties associated with a topic Focuses on benefits and
values Looks a topic from the point of view of emotions and
feelings. Requires imagination and creativity

Students learn to reflect on their thinking and to recognise that

different thinking is required in different learning situations

The idea is that some types of learning require more cognitive

processing than others, but also have more generalized benefits.
In Bloom's taxonomy, for example, skills involving analysis,
evaluation and synthesis (creation of new knowledge) are thought
to be of a higher order, requiring different learning and teaching
methods, than the learning of facts and concepts. Higher order
thinking involves the learning of complex judgemental skills such
as critical thinking and problem solving. Higher order thinking is
more difficult to learn or teach but also more valuable because
such skills are more likely to be usable in novel situations (i.e.,
situations other than those in which the skill was learned).

Thinking skills are the mental processes that we apply

when we seek to make sense of experience. Thinking
skills enable us to integrate each new experience into the
schema that we are constructing of "how things are". It is
apparent that better thinking will help us to learn more
from our experience and to make better use of our

It has always been the central aim of education to improve

the quality of thinking because better thinking will not only
enable us to become more successful at learning but will
also equip us for life, enabling us to realise our own
potential and to contribute to the development of society.

Why do we need to develop thinking skills?

When I was at school (in the 1950's and 1960's)

students were largely considered to be "clever" if they
demonstrated the ability to commit to memory huge
amounts of data and to recall that data on the
appropriate occasion. At that time, I recall, Australia
had a population of 6 million people and 60 million
sheep! Oh, how I have longed for that particular piece
of information to become relevant. Not only have I not
been able to utilise that particular piece of information,
but I suspect that it is no longer true. The problem with
learning such "facts" is that they become outdated, or
new research requires modification of previously
accepted "knowledge". Even more importantly, the rate
of discovery of new phenomena and the theories
associated with such discovery is increasing at an
alarming rate. If we are merely equipped with a bank of
past "knowledge" we will soon find ourselves unable to
relate to the current world in which we live, and
inadequately prepared for the demands of a rapidly
changing future.

In "How to Create and Develop a Thinking Classroom",

Mike Fleetham writes:

"In our evolving world, the ability to think is fast

becoming more desirable than any fixed set of skills
or knowledge. We need problem solvers, decision
makers and innovators. And to produce them, we
need new ways to teach and learn. We need to
prepare our children for their future, not for our

Incidentally, the current population of Australia (on 20

March 2011) is 22,594,438. I know because I've just
checked out an up-to-the-minute projection on the
website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a facility
that had not been invented when I was at school; thus
highlighting the necessity to developing information-
processing skills rather than cramming students' heads
with "facts".