Oral Communication Materials

Oral Communication is an essential skill that refers to sharing and receiving information by talking. The materials listed below relate to understanding how people talk to each other and understanding different methods of communication. They are for practitioners, teachers and tutors, learners, or anyone interested in oral communication as an essential skill. Every title in the list below is available, either online or through the library.

Background & Definitions

Definitions: oral communication. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, (HRSDC). [Ottawa, ON], 2011.

Oral communication. (online) 
Workplace Education Manitoba, 2011.

Oral communication tip sheet. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), 2009.

Oral communication self-assessment. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), 2013.

Reader’s guide to essential skills profiles: section e, oral communication. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, (HRSDC). [Ottawa, ON], 2011.

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Oral Communication

All about me, or is it I? beware the wild pronoun!: with exercises and answers.
By Gwynneth T. Heaton. Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2007.
» This comprehensive and funny book will help readers to understand and to use all the different types of pronouns correctly. Special emphasis is placed on personal pronouns.” This book is written for anyone who wants to speak or write good English, and who finds pronouns confusing. There are plenty of examples and exercises (with answers at the back).

Communicate with confidence: how to say it right the first time and every time. Rev. and expanded ed.

Dianna Booher. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012.
» This book offers practical advice for communicating clearly, tactfully, and confidently in many situations. Includes guidance on being persuasive, running productive meetings, asking the right questions, coaching, negotiating, resolving conflicts, responding to insults, offering praise, delegating responsibilities, crossing cultural divides, and networking at events.

Developing listening skills 1. 2nd ed. (Book + CD)
Developing listening skills 2. 2nd ed. (Book + CD)
Developing listening skills 3, 2nd ed. (Book + CD)

Casey Malarcher. Santa Fe Springs, Calif.: Compass Publishing, 2010.
» The books in this series each feature 12 units with real world listening practice on interesting and useful topics. The exercises combine listening with reading, speaking, and writing tasks to reinforce retention of high-frequency vocabulary and phrases. Audio content is contained on the CED (MP3 format). The books progress from easier (early intermediate) to more challenging ((upper intermediate).

Employability success! (online)
Karen Farrar. Timmins, ON: Timmins Learning Centre, 2009.
» Curriculum to help develop ‘soft’ employability skills such as communication and adaptability. Also covers thinking and problem solving, demonstrating positive attitudes, being responsible, and learning continuously.

English for everyday activities: a picture process dictionary, teacher’s guide and workbook.
By Lawrence J. Zwier and adapted by Janet Podnecky; illustrated by Nozumi Kudo. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2002.
» Intended to help ESL students learn the English vocabulary associated with everyday activities such as shopping, making a phone call, and taking a bus. Coloured illustrations and key vocabulary are included for each activity.

English for work activities: a picture process dictionary, teacher’s guide and workbook.
By Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz. Syracuse, NY: New Reader’s Press, 2004.
» Intended to help ESL students learn the English vocabulary associated with specific work-related tasks common to many workplaces and jobs. The teacher’s guide includes general advice on teaching and any issues that might arise. The workbook includes lessons to correspond and reinforce the vocabulary concepts learned.

English – no problem! literacy book, literacy workbook and literacy teacher’s edition.
By Elizabeth Minicz. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2004.
» This series is for adult and young adult literacy-level learners. Vocabulary acquisition and listening skills are the central focus, not traditional grammar.

I speak English: a guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages – listening, speaking, reading, writing.
By Ruth J. Colvin. Syracuse, NY: Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.: 1997.
» A practical guide for volunteer tutors to teach listening and speaking skills to speakers of languages other than English. Lesson plans and checklists make it easier to achieve efficient and effective teaching.

Illustrated everyday idioms with stories.
By Casey Malarcher. Guilderland, NY: Distributed by Grass Roots Press, 2003.
» Explains English idioms in a humorous way. Short definitions for each idiom are followed by humorous illustrations and usage examples. Incorporates international folktales featuring idioms to show learners how idioms appear in spoken English and what they mean.

Just joking: stories for listening and discussion.
By Sandra Heyer. White Plains, NY: Longman, 2005.
» A listening and discussion text for high-beginning learners of English. Each unit is centred on a joke – a humorous, illustrated story that concludes with a punchline. Ideal in an oral communication, listening or speaking course but it can also be used in any class to motivate and relax learners and to add variety to lessons.

Towards effective, accessible communications.
By Diane Pouliot. Vanier, ON: Federation Canadienne pour L’alphabetisation en Francais, 2004.
» The document focuses on the problems that adults with low literacy face when dealing with written and oral communications. The goal of the document is to improve the effectiveness of communications aimed at the general public by making agencies more aware of the importance of considering the needs of adults with low literacy.

Woe is I: the grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English.
By Patricia T. O’Conner. New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2009.
» This is a readable guide to good grammar, spoken and written. It includes chapters on pronunciation, and is based on the premise that grammar should make things easier to understand.

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Workplace Communication

Casino oral communication skills: participant manual: edition 1.0. (online)
Winnipeg, Man.: The Canadian Gaming Centre of Excellence, 2010.
» This resource begins with a facilitator’s guide. The following workbook is organized into two separate parts: foundations and job families. The foundations section is a review of oral communication skills for work, including: communicating with professionalism, listening effectively, using non-verbal communication, speaking with clarity, responding effectively in difficult situations, and contributing to meetings. It is organized by topic with each topic including an introduction, examples of the skill in use, and exercises for specific skills. The job family sections contain practice questions organized by level for gaming/casino job families: bank, customer services/administration, food and beverage services, housekeeping and ground, maintenance and facilities, retail, security, slots/electronic gaming/bingo, table games, uniforms and warehouse. Answers are provided.

Communication essentials: a modular workshop. (CD-ROM)
Office of Literacy and Essential Skills. [Gatineau, QC]: Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, 2009.
» This curriculum includes exercises and presentation materials to help learners practice and strengthen their oral communication skills for the workplace. The material is flexible and customizable for learner needs.

The conflict and communication activity book: 30 high-impact training exercises for adult learners.
Bill Withers & Keami D. Lewis. NY: AMACOM, 2003
» This resource contains learning activities and exercises that cover topics such as teamwork, communication skills, centering, conflict resolution skills, and diversity awareness. While most are appropriate to a workshop/training situation, many can be adapted for classroom use.

Conversations for work and Conversations for work: teacher’s guide and audio.
By Ellen Vacco and Paula Jablon. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2007.
» “Helps beginning-level ESL students develop the language skills they need to communicate effectively on the job. Lessons emphasize oral skills and are based on workplace themes such as talking about the job, understanding schedules, using safety gear and asking for and receiving help” (p. 4). The Teacher’s Guide includes photocopy masters and an audio recording (CD). It provides a wide variety of suggestions and expansion activities that help make lessons successful and applicable to all students at this level, whether or not they are employed.

Developing work-related learning materials.
By Lynda Fownes and Vanya Wong. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2007.
» This guide is for practitioners who want to link instruction with workplace applications. Topics include collecting workplace documents, developing worker focused tasks, developing answer steps as a learning strategy, and obtaining reprint permission.

Everyday English for hospitality professionals. (Book + audio CD)

Lawrence J. Zwier with Nigel Caplan. Texas: Compass Publishing, 2007.
» This book and audio CD help future workers in the hotel and restaurant fields develop the English vocabulary they need for interacting with customers and colleagues. The 61 lessons show essential language structures for such common functions as welcoming a guest, dealing with a guest’s luggage, taking a meal order, and finding medical care for a guest. Each two page lesson provides full-colour illustrations and clear captions. The CD provides audio for each lesson in the book.

Key vocabulary for a safe workplace. Student book and Teacher’s guide. From the series ESL for Job Success.
By Harry Ringel. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2000.
» A tool kit designed to help ESL learners understand the essential language of workplace safety. To be used as part of a prevocational or general ESL course for students preparing to enter the workforce, a class or as a tool to improve understanding of safety terms. Lessons can be used in any order and adapted to individual, pair or group setting. The student book contains all instructional and reference materials. The teacher’s guide contains lesson activity guidelines and applications.

Made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die.
Chip Heath & Dan Heath. New York: Random House, 2008.
» This book examines how to communicate messages effectively and explores the six traits that make ideas ‘stick’.

Making it work: a workbook on conflict and communication for adult literacy learners.
Anne Moore. Guelph, ON: Garlic Press, 2006.
» The workbook is designed for adult learners working with a teacher, tutor or learning partner. It explores ways of working through conflict and gives opportunities for learners to practice communication skills in a safe learning environment. Each section in the workbook contains theory, examples and an opportunity for reflection. The material is interactive, experiential and can be used with learners individually or in small groups.

On-the-job English: student book and teacher’s guide.
By Christy M. Newman. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2000.
» Developed to help ESL students develop language and effective communication skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Focuses on functional language needed for common workplace tasks, such as giving and understanding instructions, participating in work discussions, and discussing problems on the job. The teacher’s guide contains lessons and teaching tips to accompany the student textbook.

Oral communication on the job: a practitioner’s guide.
By Ginny Chiu and Claire Lloyd; Edited by Vanya Young. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2010.
» A practitioner resource for helping learners improve oral communication skills. The emphasis in the lessons is on speaking and listening in authentic workplace situations. Specific to the construction trade, the activities are flexible and other ideas are shared.

Paving the way to lasting employment: a manual and twelve interactive training videos: demonstrating the importance and practice of Essential Skills in the small business environment. (online)
Andrew Binks. Kingston, ON: Kingston Literacy & Skills, 2012.
» This manual, which includes links to a series of 12 interactive videos, grew out of a project that focused on the “soft skills” that are a key to holding down a job. Those are the Essential Skills of oral communication, working with others, and thinking skills.
Each video is based on skill areas that would be required in a retail, customer service, or administrative setting. The video includes clips of the employer responding in three different ways to the employee’s efforts and provides questions to guide discussion of each response. The manual can be used before and after viewing the videos.

Step forward Canada: language for everyday life 1 and 2. By Sharon Rajabi. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2008.
» Each book presents 12 themed units based on the CLB competencies in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each unit provides activities to reinforce pronunciation, vocabulary and communicative competencies, among other skills.

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Last updated: October 2012