Communicative repertoires and English language learners

Educator's Corner Opinion

“All the words we say in home are like half Arabic, half English, half French, half – all the languages, they’re like half all the languages, they’re like mixed together.” People use language in different ways and different situations.

However, in the process of communicating with others, we not only use language, but we also other means to communicate with others.

Many are so anxious about the correctness and incorrectness of the communicative repertoires that we use to communicate with others. However, because of this anxiousness, some may have difficulty communicating with others.

Knowing therefore the students’ communicative repertoire is very important to us. We do learn in different repertoires and different contexts.

A communicative repertoire is the collection of ways that individuals use language and literacy and other ways of communication to function effectively in the multiple communities in which they participate.

Some examples of communicative repertoires are gestures, dress, posture, accessories. We use this so that we will be able to effectively communicate to others.

It is therefore important that teachers must recognize and honor the validity of each individual student’s communicative repertoire so that we will be able assess and help the students properly.

If we worry too much about committing mistakes, we will not be able to learn and discover more of our students’ potential in learning a language.

Teachers must develop ways of assisting or scaffolding their students in their attempts to master the conventional communicative repertoire required by schooling situations.

As teachers, it is therefore important to spend our time identifying the different speech events in the classroom.

With this we will be able to identify their speech events. We can do this through observation and getting to know the students.

With the knowledge about their communicative repertoires, we can design activities, tasks and lessons that fit the students’ learning needs and styles.

According to the Betsy Rymes, awareness of communicative repertoires is the end in itself. It would not be achieved by role plays or by invoking imaginary repertoires of ‘native speakers,’ but through a collective empirical investigation of circulating repertoires and their everyday uses and misuses.

Therefore, we should be aware about our students’ culture, language, environment, profile and needs, so we would be able to effectively assess and help them.

By: Emilia Mestito Guinumtad
Pines City National High School