No matter what course a student is enrolled in, they need to learn how to communicate. In my career as a classroom teacher in a mathematics course and an online tutor, I have worked diligently in making sure that each of my students are able to communicate. Not only do they need to know how to ask questions, but they also need to know how to explain the solution of problems.

Students need to master content related vocabulary to be able to communicate effectively. Teachers need to make sure that all students become familiar with words that are being used in concepts that they are learning. Students also need to be able to use dictionaries and Internet to get definitions for words that they are not familiar with. Once they are familiar with content related vocabulary, students need to be able to ask questions, in such a way that their classmates and teacher can understand what they are asking.

If a student is asked to explain the solution for a problem, they will need to be able to explain it effectively. Teachers have a responsibility of modeling how to explain the solutions of problems. Solving a problem using a step-by-step technique is important. Teachers should not assume that their students know why each of the steps is being used. When appropriate, teachers can provide the property, theorem or definition being used when explaining a solution. Teachers should never skip steps. Students that observe how teachers communicate solutions are more apt to become effective communicators themselves. If a student needs help in explaining a solution, teachers should provide assistance. The more often those students have an opportunity to be active participants in the classroom, the more they will improve their communication skills.

Allowing students to work in groups will provide additional practice in asking questions or explaining solutions. Make sure that each group includes one student that is familiar with the content being taught. Encourage this student to lead the group. This leader should be told to encourage participation from all of its members. Students working together with their peers is an excellent way of developing communication skills.

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