All creatures in this world communicate on their own way. Talking about human beings specifically, we communicate using a various medium and type of communication, and one of the most preferred and frequent communication channel chosen by humans is oral communication. Oral communications are not merely efficient but it’s a proven effective communication channel when it’s used in a proper way. In today’s world English language has become the most widely used language and recognized as an international formal language. Hence, the use of English language can be said as a must as the world is moving forward to globalisation. English is spoken in different ways in different countries, the usage of this language is controlled by many social factors such as age, education, environment, society and etc. Today our focus is “Oral Communication in English: Forms, Functions and Strategies in the Malaysian Context”.
Before go deeper into oral communication, one should first understand the process involved and occurred in each successful oral communication. In each oral communication there must be a sender and receiver regardless of the quantity as communication can occur within a person up to a maximum of unlimited people (infinity). Sender plays the role of sending code, while receiver plays the role encoding the code to a message. The encoded message must be encoded correctly so that it’s understandable by the receiver and the message should be same with what meant by the sender at the time of message sent. Noise can interfere in the process of oral communication. There are seven elements in oral communication process, namely Source, is about where the information or code is derived from, also called as speaker. Message, the encoded information sent by both speaker and listener. Transmitter, an object or substance that transmit the code to receiver and makes it possible for the receiver to decode it to become a message, for instance mouth as a sound producer, and ear as sound receiver. Signal, consist mediums like picture, sound, body gestures and etc. Channel, is about medium that the code uses to travel, such as air, radio, wave, internet and etc. Noise, is the secondary or unwanted signal that comes in during the conversation and confuses communication or understanding of either one or both party (Sender & Receiver). Receiver, natural receiver in most of oral communication is ears and eyes as ears receiving info from sound and eyes getting information from body gestures and mouth movement. Destination, a person whom receive and process the message sent to him/her. The process of oral communication never differs by country or any other factors, it is just the same process around the globe. In general, the oral communication process is divided into 3 models namely linear model, interactive model and transactional model.
Figure 1 : Linear Model of Communication
Linear model is one of the oldest model found by Laswell’s (1948). This model views communication as a one way communication whereby speaker speaks and listener listens. There is almost no room for interactive under this model. The disadvantage of linear model is then amended by another model known as interactive model.
Figure 2 : Interactive Model of Communication
Source : http://davis.foulger.info/oswego/images/models/AnInteractiveModel.gif
This model argues that receiver or listener provides feedbacks to sender or speaker. Simple sounds made by the receiver like ’em’, ‘yes’, or even nodding reflects the feedback on the encoded message.
Figure 3 : Transactional Model of Communication
Source : http://davis.foulger.info/oswego/images/models/TransactionalModel.gif
Finally a perfect model of oral communication is found and named as transactional model. This model is accepted by today’s contemporary communicators. Basically transactional model proves that communication is definitely an ongoing and changing process as people, society, environments, lifestyle and etc that involves directly and indirectly in communication change.
Elements in communication are interdependent, it’s proven in the transactional model. Every person in the communication process has the ability to be a speaker and listener, and both sender and receiver can send and receive messages simultaneously. For instance, in a communication process between person A and person B, Both of them playing their role as a sender as well as a receiver, and one never wait until another person finish his/her sentence to provide a feedback, feedbacks are given almost immediately, sender or receiver interrupts immediately in form of speaking or by providing simple gestures. Basically every person is this world is unique, each of us may view or think about things in different manner but what communication meant to do is to have a mutual understanding between two parties (sender) and (receiver) on a matter that is communicated by them. Transactional model shows that reaction of every speaker and listener in this world is influenced by belief, knowledge, experience, family background, self esteem, friends, environment and etc.
When looking into this three oral communications models, it’s clear for us that transactional model is the one that been applied in our daily communication in various type of people. For example, when a student is in a class, while teacher is teaching, the student reacts to information sent by the teacher by interrupting and saying that he/she doesn’t understand a particular part of the subject and asking to re-explain or explain further on that part. Another ordinary oral communication environment can be found at Malaysian houses is conversation between family members in dining table. During the conversation, elder people are always given the priority and respect to speak first, followed by the younger ones, yet transactional model communication is applied whereby younger ones always provides feedback by uttering words like ‘yes’, ‘ok’, ‘true’, ‘yes, i will do’ and etc. Friends are tend to argue more frequently compare to any other relationship as it’s a relationship where it involves a very small gap between its members as far as communication is concerned and it’s because close friends like to communicate less formal and frankly among them. When see what is the communication model involves in this type of communication, once again the answer will be transactional model.
Basically, communication could take place in several forms. One of the communication form that is very normal in daily life is interpersonal communication. Which is a communication process between a person with another person or several people, could be two to five people in general. One may ask, what is the function of interpersonal communication, is it a must to communicate with others. Communication is a on-going process that is happening all around the world, communication makes the world goes round. In daily life we are communicating with many people starting from the second of we got up from bed in the morning until gone to bed again at night. People communicate with other people for thousand of reasons, but reason for why do people communicate can be divided into four simple words, to inquire, to inform, to persuade and to entertain. We may inquire a lot of things in order to perform daily task and survive, some of them are information, help, and services. People inform other people by giving instructions, by describing and so on.
Human beings like to persuade others to get things done as per their wish, and communication is how persuasion is done. Communications are also being used for entertaining others to settle or listen to their problems or just to build rapport. Other example of basic communication function in a layman’s word is to earn money and survive. We need to communicate with people to earn money, for example: a working guy need to liaise with people from several departments, superiors, and subordinates in his company to get his daily task done. We need to communicate to get survive, for example, a women received a phone call that she is going to be murdered soon, how is she going to protect herself is by communicating the issue with police and trusted parties. When seeing this form of communication in Malaysia context, there are not many differences between Malaysians and people from other countries. Malaysians, as well as people from other countries share important things with someone they are close with and only communicate with people who are less closer with them or strangers when they are required to do so. But as far as culture is concerned, they are some differences in term of behaviour or body gesture. For instance, unlike western countries it is considered as indecent to kiss someone in public in Malaysia. Elder people are always given priority to talk first in Malaysia.
Citizens of Malaysia tend to use the word ‘lah’ at end of their sentence, this is unique, however as far as English language is concern it could be a ‘damage’ for the language. Malaysians in general are good in using languages to communicate effectively with different level of people. For instance, even a doctor, or a professor will use a broken English when communicating with people from different level of lifestyle like mechanic, butcher, fisherman and etc.
Small Group Communication
Communication in a small group usually refers to interactions between five to ten people. The function of this form of communication is normally to accomplish some professional or educational task or needs. For instance, students from a university or college may form a study group to make them easier to revise subjects before exam. In working environment, groups are normally formed in order to accomplish a task or for competition purposes. For instance, a several sales team might formed in order to do road-show marketing for an company product but at the same time the teams will compete among each other to achieve the highest sales. In Malaysia, when there is a small group communication goes around students, seniors or someone whom elder or eldest is the one always get the advantage to speak first and be respected. While in professional environment such as at office or public, a person with highest position or authority holds the power to speak louder and control the communication. Sometimes when a small group is formed, there will be a leader appointed to lead the group or team, in this kind of circumstances, group members often listen to leader’s decision and obey it even if there is some argument used to take place before, leader’s decision will be the final decision.
Malaysia is a beautiful country where 3 types of major races living together in peaceful environment. Harmony is built up together by these three races, and one of the most important factors that being used wisely by our Malaysians is communication. When a group of people is communicating and there is more than one race involve in that communication, Malaysians easily adapt to the situation whereby they will never use any words that could make a person from another race to feel uncomfortable or angry, and not only that Malaysians are very good in matter of changing slangs when talking to a person or group of people from different race. For instance, when an Indian or Malay man (buyer) goes to a car accessory shop or vegetable shop in a market run by a Chinese man (seller), the Indian or Malay guy will often say ‘Taukeh, how much uh this one’ instead of saying ‘excuse me, how much does it cost’ and to bargain the price the buyer will say ‘wah.. dat expensive meh? So expensive lah taukeh, the other can sell for cheaper price mah’. In the sentence above the word ‘taukeh’, ‘mah’ and ‘meh’ is actually originated from Chinese language, but the buyer is using the words together in English in order to get closer with the seller and to make the conversation effective. These are some of the way communication contributes to the unity among Malaysians. But in term of English language usage, does this kind of communication really contribute in developments of professional and quality English speakers in Malaysia, is a good question to be think by us. Strategies must be defined and developed in order to get all Malaysians speak fluent and acceptable English. This is really significant as the world is going to face globalization very soon, without a proper English communication skill, Malaysian might face a very big barrier in dealing with people from different region and places around the world.
There is famous saying “nobody is a good public speaker in the first speech”. Public communication is a communication which is very powerful but most complicated for the speaker. It’s found as the most powerful communication because the number of people involve as audience, starting with minimum of just one person as an audience the number might go to maximum of infinity, which means unlimited number of audience. Public Communication also known as public speaking is defined as process of speaking to a group of people (usually large numbers) to inform or to persuade them to act or buy or think in the same way the speakers thinks. So in general it can be said as process of influencing, entertain or sharing information to a big group of people. In Malaysia, this kind of communication is widely used by politicians from many sort of parties to win votes, it’s also being used by people whom their duty is to be in touch with people, for instance, teachers, motivators, stage MC (master of ceremony), comedians, self esteem speakers, yoga masters and etc. People who can perform a good public speaking normally have a very high set of skills in communication which is needed by every public speaker. When communicating with hundreds, thousands or millions of people in the same time, it will be very difficult for the speaker to catch responds given by the receiver (listener), and the same situation applies in getting know what are the listeners thinking at the moment. While communicating with public, most probably people from different sort of financial status, culture, race, religion, belief, knowledge and education it is almost impossible for the speaker to pre-determine what will be the feedback or questions could be threw to the speaker, therefore, the speaker has to have a good knowledge and experience in handling public communication.
In general there are four types of public communications, namely, informative, persuasive, ceremonial and Extemporaneous/impromptu. Informative public communication refers to communications which is normally self-explanatory, can be found at business meetings, science conventions, idea seminars and etc where speakers will share information through speech to a group of people. Persuasive public communications refers to a speech which is meant to convince or influence people by an idea and make them to act in that way. This type of communication usually found in sales process, religion talk, politician talk, motivation speech and etc. Ceremonial speeches refers to speech that is normally given by master of ceremony or other people in a big ceremony such as graduation ceremony, wedding of the prince and other formal events. Extemporaneous speech refers to speech which is prepared to talk using manuscript or powerpoint presentation, while impromptu refers to speech which is based on our experience and knowledge, not by any advance preparation.
Whatever models of communication being used by other