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ISSN: 0974-892X


July, 2018



Concerns for Effective Oral Communication Skills in Global Arena
for Kenyan Students

Ms. Arti Kotak, Research Scholar & Dr. Manish N. Padia, Asst. Professor, Department of English, VBT's Institute of Arts & Humanities, C. U. Shah University, Wadhwan City, Surendranagar (Gujarat)

Dr. Bhaskar Pandya, Associate Professor and Head, Humanities and Social Sciences, Charotar University of Science and Technology, Charusat, Changa (Gujarat)



Today everyone has his own thoughts and perceptions which make one fall in a challenging task of convincing people around on his conceptions by his communication. Achievement of good communicative skills is not a piece of cake. Where a person’s Skills are taken in consideration, Oral Communication Skills can never be forgotten as one’s persona is observed the way he or she expresses himself/herself. Oral Communication Skill is quite important in each country as the world is growing very fast. Sometimes, certain countries are taken for granted as far as teaching of Oral Communication skill is concerned because English is considered to be the routine language in these countries but language and communication altogether a different element.  A person might know English but might not be a good communicator. Kenya is one of these Countries. In Kenya English is taught as a second language, Government has given a high status than native languages due to its status as a national and international language (Chesang, 2005). It still holds a prestigious position in the country as it is the language used across the curriculum in Kenyan Educational system, official language used in office, media houses, courts, diplomacy, used to conduct all government business and an international language (Chesang, 2005). As such, the importance of one attaining communicative competence in English language in Kenyan Education system cannot be overemphasized.  There is a debate that majority of high school graduates cannot speak English language proper. Many bright students are able to score high but unable to express themselves orally in English language in Kenya as they lack oral competence as they are used to use Sheng,  Kiswahili and English languages during conversations and discussions in the classrooms but they don’t use English language only. A research done in Kenya by Mwamba (2005) found out that many students in secondary schools were shy and preferred remaining quiet in class because they were unable to express themselves properly in spoken English. Richards also did the same observation and found that learners who had  no linguistic competence often spoke  slowly, took too long to compose utterances, did not participate actively in conversation, their spoken English language did not sound natural, had poor grammar and pronunciation. The poor communication in Kenya is due to the need to re-examine the teaching of English language in Secondary Schools in Kenya (Mwamba, 2005). According to many researchers, the reasons for poor speaking skills could be  due to  lack of emphasis on speaking skills in the curriculum since it is not examined in national examinations, teachers’ own limited English proficiency, class conditions that do not favour oral activities and limited opportunities outside the class for practicing using English language.  According to critics, the problem of poor communication skills in Kenyan Secondary School has been emerged due to the system of education, a student must undertake 8 years of learning in primary school, 4 years in secondary school and 4 years at university. At the end of primary and secondary levels, there is a summative national evaluation done by Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC).  

English Syllabus has been developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), and all is taught in primary and secondary schools in Kenya, the current teaching of English Speaking Skills in secondary schools in Kenya is based on the Revised Syllabus released by KIE in 2002. The main aim of the Revised Syllabus was to improve communicative competence of secondary school learners in Kenya.

Despite that much importance of Oral Communication Skills, little research has been conducted into the teaching of Oral skill and possible remedy for generally low English language proficient learners in Kenyan context. So this paper will cover the areas for the need of oral communication skills for Kenyan students, criteria that need to be improved or worked upon for the efficiency and effectiveness in oral communication. The paper also discusses the evaluation method for the effectiveness of oral communication. 

General Concept of Effective Oral Communication Skills

Generally communication is perplexed with language and oral Communication with speaking so before exploring further in this area, the phrases like “Oral Communication Skills” and “Effective Oral Communication Skills” demand the clear clue of them. 
The word ‘Oral’ has been derived from the Latin word Os or Mouth, this word was used as Oralis in Late Latin and then that word became Oral in the 17th century.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, “Oral means spoken rather than written”, “Relating to the transmission of information or literature by word of mouth”, “Oral is related to the mouth”. Sometimes the word ‘Oral’ is confused with the word ‘Aural’ but they sing a different tune. Aural refers to the ear or hearing while Oral refers to the mouth or speaking. The root of the word Aural has been derived from the Latin word ‘Auris’ which means ‘pertaining to the ear’ and ‘Oral’ which means ‘pertaining to the mouth’. Although there is a variation in both the terms, they are interconnected. Going further for the explanation of communication which is generally messed up with language, although both the areas have their own role to play.  According to Wikipedia, “A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.” With the help of vocal symbols, one can speak with each other or can fall in conversation with any group but there cannot be any assurance that there will be the communication. The word ‘Communication’ has been derived  from Latin word ‘Communicare’ meaning ‘to impart’ or ‘to share’ (Meenakshi Raman and Sangeeta Sharma p-2), which makes a point that Communication doesn’t include only speaking but that includes sharing of information, ideas, feelings and thoughts. Fred G. Meyer says, “Communication is the intercourse by words, letters or messages” Basically communication means how you make others understand what you actually want to say. One can use verbal or non-verbal communication for sending or receiving any message. Language, emails, telephones, emoticons, letters all are the sources for communication. In a nutshell, language is a link for communication not communication itself. There are various views on Oral Communication Skills. According to University of Wyoming University Studies Program, “Oral Communication skills are the ability to compose, critically analyze, present, and deliver information through verbal interactions”. According to Mherzog, "Oral communication refers to the speaking and listening skills needed to participate verbally in discussions, exchange thoughts and information, make clear and convincing presentations, and interact with a variety of audiences” Ricky W. Griffin says, “Oral communication takes place in face-to-face conversations, group discussions, telephone calls and other circumstances in which spoken word is used to express meaning.” Bovee and others say, “Oral communication expresses ideas through the spoken word.” According to S. K. Kapur, “Oral communication takes place when spoken words are used to transfer information and understanding form one person to another.” As per the views of various authors, Oral Communication pertains to verbal communication and it is a process of communication which is sent by the sender through the words and sound of the mouth. Oral communication includes face to face conversation, conversation over telephone, radio broadcasts, interviews, group discussion, meeting, conference, seminars, speeches etc. From the above definitions, one would observe that the authors have focused mostly on verbal skills of speaking for oral communication but in fact oral communication cannot always be limited to only spoken words, the nonverbal accompanying verbal play very vital, sometimes even louder than the spoken words. Thus the fragrance of non-verbal cannot be ignored while discussing oral communication. The paralanguage also is integral part of communication.  For instance, in the talk show – “Coffee with Karan” which is hosted by a film producer and director Karan Johar on Star World India and also telecast on other channels of the same network like Star Plus and Star One. In this show Bollywood Celebrities are cordially invited by Karan Johar to enjoy coffee with him and they talk on some particular topics where celebrities are asked questions regarding their professional - personal lives and their childhood. They add the flavour of effectiveness in their oral communication. Effective Oral Communication Skills consist the qualities like correctness, clarity, conciseness, completeness, consideration, correctness and courtesy which should be expressed while communicating orally and that can be done effectively by using both, verbal as well as non-verbal the skills. After the clarification of Effective Oral Communication Skills, it is necessity to mention that “Oral Communication” is also misunderstood with the “Speaking” but there is a thin line between only speaking and oral communication. According to English Collins Dictionary, “Speaking means to convey a person’s voice from one room, area, building to another.” Speaking means to sit in group in front of any person and to express one-self fearlessly and freely. Speaking is free which has not any rules and regulations while oral communication skills include not only speaking but also systematic and organized speech. For instance, when a student is asked to give a presentation on any topic and the student is just reading the slides while giving presentation, it gives a message that he is speaking but not communicating orally. The following conversation affirms the difference between only speaking and effective oral communication.

Jill: Hello Vinay, I want to smoke.
Vinay: You cannot do it now because we are around the temple and prayer is just about to begin.
Jill: Should I go to the priest for the permission?
Vinay: Yes. Try it.
Jill: Excuse me, May I smoke while praying?
The priest: No. Not at all. It will be disrespect to God.
Vinay: Let me try. Good Morning, May I pray while smoking?
The priest: Oh! That is very nice, dear. You can pray at any time.

Achievement of Effective Oral Communication skills in this modern world adds new star to one’s personality. That has been proven that more than 55% of the executives are good at this skill and use of effective communication gives them extra mileage in their business. Formal oral Communication as well as informal oral communication has their distinguished set of advantages. There are many advantages for oral communication skills like; it saves time a lot because in rush hours in any field, one might not get time for writing the stuff, in that situation oral communication plays a vital role. Oral Communication is also cost saving because in any industry if communication is orally, it saves, pen, paper or stamp and computer. It is also more powerful and effective than written communication skills because it includes varieties of aspects like, intensity of voice, intonation, pitch, articulation, pronunciation etc. 

Need of Effective Oral Communication Skills for Kenyan students

As the research should not be subjective, it should not take place on the basis of the experience of an individual.  The researchers mention here the need of oral communication skills for Kenyan students. 

The Department of Communication Skills and Studies of the university Nairobi established The Communication Skills Project, as result of an agreement between the Government of Britain (ODA) and Kenya for the setting up of a Communication Skills Course for the 8-4-4 students who were joining the National Universities for the academic year 1990-1991.  A very pivotal role is played by the Department in teaching Communication Skills to Students taking all courses in the University.  The British Council sponsored some members of staff for degree courses and seminars in highly recognized British Universities amongst them were University of Leeds, Lancaster University, University of Reading, and Birmingham; while others were highly trained by our prestigious local Universities.

Richard Mwamba mentions in his research, “Teaching Oral Communication Skills in Kenyan Secondary Schools” that it was required to evaluate the factors perceived as affecting of Oral Communication Skills in English Language in Kenyan Secondary Schools as it is the most neglected area in the English Language Programme for Secondary Schools. Teachers play vital role in the classroom but sometimes learners do not get opportunities for expressing themselves. Thus the author is concerned of this critical status of Oral Skills and recommended that the skills need to be tested at the end of the secondary school course and the language teachers emphasize the teaching of Oral Communication Skills in their academics.

Anne Syomwene mentions in her research, “The Teaching of Oral Communication Skills in the English Curriculum in Primary Schools in Kenya” that English is the medium of instruction in schools of Kenya from upper Primary School and beyond. Further, English is the official language in Kenya. Oral communication skills comprise listening and speaking skills form the backbone to the teaching of English. They facilitate the acquisition of other language skills: reading and writing. The researcher undertook this study in North District, Kenya in the year 2009. The researcher investigated the teaching of Oral Communication Skills in the English Curriculum in Primary School in Kenya. Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of social interaction was adopted for this study. A qualitative research approach with a heuristic methodology was utilized.  The researcher used an exploratory research design. Data was collected using structured and focused group interview schedules, observation checklists and document analysis. There were two objectives for the study: To find out the kind of learning activities that the teachers selected for oral communication lessons; to find out the methods that teachers used to utilize while teaching oral communication lessons. Thus the study was concluded by findings, conclusion and recommendations.

Thomas Mulwa Muema mentions in his research, “Effects of Poor Communication in an Organization: Case of Kenya Seed Company” that poor Communication in an Organization causes serious problems like loss of customer, products, goods, services, employee turnover, loss of productivity, etc.  The aim of this study is to identify the problems of poor communication and to find out the strategies to improve their communication to enhance their motivation for work. The study was guided by the writings of Elashmawi and Harris who have argued that communication is the primary element for the behaviour of organization’s members. The study was carried out at Kenya Seed Company Limited which helped to improve the motivation and communication skills of the Organization.

Richard M takes concern in his research “Teaching Oral Communication Skills in Kenyan Secondary Schools. An Investigation into the Factors that hinder the Process.’’ of the deplorable status of Oral Skills recommendations are given by him that Oral Skills need to be tested at the end of the secondary school and language teachers and trainers need to take care of this matter in school.  He claimed that teaching of Oral Skills is the most neglected area in the English Language Programme for Secondary Schools. According to him, in many classrooms, the teacher play active role but learners remain passive and they do not get opportunities to express their views clearly. The aim of this work was to evaluate the factors perceived as affecting the teaching of Oral Communication Skills in English Language in Kenyan Secondary Schools.

Benter Oseno Gudu mentions about a general public concern of Kenya in his research, “Teaching Speaking Skills in English Language using Classroom Activities in Secondary School Level in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya.” He indicates that schools of Kenya lack communicative and linguistic competence so conversation in English cannot be sustained without occasionally code switching to Sheng or Kiswahili. The researcher conducted this study in eight secondary schools in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya. It was to promote learners’ active participation in speaking skills. The study was based on Krashen’s (1985), Monitor Model specifically the input and the affective filter hypotheses which emphasize that learners acquire target language when they are motivated and involved actively in the learning process. Mixed methods design and simple random sampling to select schools, students and English language teachers from National, Provincial and District schools were adopted by the study. The recommendations of the study included: 1) students should be given chances to practice using authentic English language in context; 2) teachers should integrate various activities in a lesson to meet learners’ needs and 3) Curriculum to acknowledge learners’ cultural backgrounds in order to enhance their learning outcomes.

Benjamin Towett Koross indicates the importance of Oral Communication Skills in his research entitled, “The Use of Oral Language Approaches in Developing Writing Skills in English Language among Kalenjin Secondary School Students in Rift Valley – Kenya”. He undertook a study to investigate the use of oral language approaches in developing writing skills in English in Kenyan Secondary Schools in Kenya. The study revealed that problems found in schools were associated with student’s attitudes, teachers’ methodology of teaching, unavailabity of instructional materials and inability of learners to express themselves orally thus hindering development of competence in writing.

Chepngeno B. Judy and Biwott Edith Jelagat mention in their research, “Factors that Influence Effective Communication of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to the Youth in Kabianga Division, Kericho County, Kenya” that in rural areas communication Skills is very important for Youth. The researcher carried out the study in Kabianga division of Kericho County. The study targeted all youth within the age bracket of 18-35 years in Kabianga division. The study recommended the government to establish infrastructures in the rural areas to make these resources easily accessible to the people.
Jessica M. M'mbone, Gladys C. Kemboi, Nelly C. Andiema indicates the importance of teaching methodology in developing Oral Communication Skills for learners. His research entitled, “A Study on Interactive Teaching Methods in Developing Oral Communicative Competence in Learners of English Language in Trans Nzoia West, District of Kenya”. They carried the research between 2008 - 2011 in Trans Nzoia West District of Kenya, among form three students of English Language. The focus of the research was on the interactive teaching method of developing Oral Communication Skills.  Recommendations of the research are: the English syllabus as a whole which has a direct influence on the methodology to be used by the teacher should be revised by the curriculum planners in Kenya. Trainers of teachers of language at both colleges and university should strengthen the emphasis on teaching methodology by equipping the teachers with both interactive and no interactive teaching methods of oral communication skills.

Dimensions to be improved for Effectiveness in Oral Communication Skills.

The world of tomorrow is being shaped in our classrooms today. Are our students gaining the knowledge and skills they need. ?   (Grady Reese)

The concern of teaching effective oral communication skills to the students has always remained a challenging task for almost all the linguistics and teachers of English Language. Various researches have also taken place regarding the development of oral communication skills in English. Keeping the concern in mind, the researchers have drawn up some important dimensions that must be worked upon to bring effectiveness in oral communication skills.  Dimensions Choice of words (vocabulary) Use of idiomatic language Use of correct basic grammatical structure Effective body language Para linguistics Active listening Critical thinking (Independent thought process, Developing personal insights into self-interest, Developing intellectual curiosity, daring, boldness, integrity, trust and self confidence in one’s ability to reason.) Logical thinking (making decisions, giving instructions, solving problems, presenting ideas, creating plans, asking questions, explaining situations.) Negotiation skills Team work Emotional intelligence

Each dimension mentioned above is itself a vast area to learn and to teach as well. Various strategies can be implemented in the classroom or out of classroom to develop each dimension. If each of the listed components is taught in an authentic result oriented way, oral communication skills will definitely touch top of its effectiveness. Various technologies and an authentic package of activities can lend a hand to learners to make their oral communication skills effective.


Analytical Rubric for assessing Effective Oral Communication Skills

Nature of Communicator

Lexical Resources

Grammatical accuracy

Idiomatic expression

Body Language


Fluency, Coherence and Clarity of Ideas



Excellent and Effective

- Uses vocabulary with full flexibility and precision in all topics.

-Uses a full range of structures naturally and appropriately and Produces error-free sentences.


-Uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately.

-Effective personal appearance, postures and gestures according to the situation and Looks relaxed and confident while Expressing emotions by using facial expressions and appropriate eye-contacts. 

-Uses a full range of pronunciation features with precision and subtlety.

-Speaks fluently with only rare repetition and any hesitation is content-related rather than to find words or grammar.
-Speaks coherently with fully appropriate cohesive features Expresses thoughts   and ideas independently, intellectually and with full of confidence.





-Manages to talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics but uses vocabulary with limited flexibility.

-Uses a range of complex structures with some flexibility and Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist.

-Uses some less common and idiomatic expressions.

Demonstrate personal appearance in every situation with less flexibility with Limited capabilities to engage audience for a long time with appropriate facial expressions, eye-contacts, postures and gestures.

-Uses a wide range of pronunciation features.


-May demonstrate language related hesitation at  times, or some repetition
-More complex communication causes fluency problems and - Expresses thoughts and ideas independently, intellectually and with less confidence.




-Has insufficient vocabulary for less familiar topics.

-Produces basic and memorized sentence forms and some correct simple sentences but subordinate structures are rare and Errors are frequent and may which lead to misunderstanding.

- Do not use idiomatic expressions.

-Lack the qualities of appropriate personal appearance, facial expressions, eye-contacts, postures and gestures.


-Uses a range of pronunciation features with mixed control.

-Speaks slowly and with long pauses and has limited ability to link sentences and expresses thoughts with less confidence and not connected intellectually.



-Only produces isolated words or memorized utterances.

-Cannot produce even basic sentence forms.

-Do not even know the meaning of idioms.

-Not having sense of appropriate personal appearance, facial expressions, postures, gestures, and eye-contacts.

-Mispronunciations are frequent and cause some difficulty for the listener.

-Gives only simple responses and is frequently unable to convey basic message and Pauses lengthily before most words and not able to express intellectually.


Evaluation of Student’s Effective Oral Communication Skills on the Basis of Analytical Rubric Example

Nature of Communicator

Required marks to achieve particular nature











Lexical Resources

(Out of 5)

Grammatical Accuracy

(Out of 5)

Body language

(Out of 5)

Para linguistics

(Out of 5)

Fluency and Coherence
(Out of 5)

Clarity of ideas

(Out of 5)


(Out of 30)








































Development of any individual and society depends on the interaction among their people. This interaction makes people transmit and interchange their ideas, facts, feelings and courses of action. Many researchers and the teachers of English language and Communication Skills claim about the same problem faced by them inside or outside the classroom that the students somehow make themselves comfortable for writing and reading the content but as far as their speaking or oral communication is concerned, they find themselves on a barrel. As effective oral communication skills is one of the most important skills for Kenyan students in their professional and personal life, it should be taken and treated sincerely with due expected outcomes. Oral communication skills have not been attained by the students of certain prominent regions of the country mainly because of their vernacular medium of instruction at school level. With some of those from English medium, they might possess oral communication skill, but lack the effectiveness in the same which is the stipulation of any apt professional stage.  Kenyan students must spend more time to make their oral communication skills effective as due to development in technology and globalization; the world has become a global village where English is preferred to be the language of Communication and Correspondence. To keep this note in mind, the researcher encompassed the clarification of effective oral communication skill along with its dimensions and also created the analytical rubric which will prove to be a pretty easy source to evaluate the students’ Oral skills.  




Benter Oseno Gudu, (2015). “Teaching Speaking Skills in English Language using Classroom Activities in Secondary School Level in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya”. Moi University, PO box 3900 -30100, Eldoret, Kenya. ISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online) Vol.6, No.35, 2015

Richard Mwamba, (2010). “Teaching Oral Communication Skills in Kenyan Secondary Schools: An Investigation into the Factors that Hinder the Process.” ISBN 3639278631, 9783639278637

Anne Syomwene, (2013). “The Teaching of Oral Communication Skills In The English Curriculum In Primary Schools In Kenya”. ISSN: 1857 - 7881 (Print) ISSN: 1857 - 7431 (Online) Vol. 9, 2013

Thomas Muema, (2012). “Effects of poor communication in an organization: Case of Kenya Seed Company”

Richard M, (2010). “Teaching Oral Communication Skills in Kenyan Secondary Schools. An Investigation into the Factors that Hinder the Process.” 

Benjamin Towett Koross, (2012).” The Use of Oral Language Approaches in Developing Writing Skills in English Language Among Kalenjin Secondary School Students in Rift Valley – Kenya.” ISSN 2224-607X (Paper) ISSN 2225-0565 (Online) Vol 2, No.10, 2012

Chepngeno B. Judy University of Kabianga and Biwott Edith Jelagat (Corresponding Author), (2015).” Factors that Influence Effective Communication of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to the Youth in Kabianga Division, Kericho County, Kenya.” ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) Vol. 5, No. 4; April 2015

Jessica M. M'mbone, Gladys C. Kemboi, Nelly C. Andiema (2015.) School of Education, Moi University – Eldoret, Kenya Box (30100) 3900 Eldoret, Kenya. ” A Study on Interactive Teaching Methods in Developing Oral Communicative Competence in Learners of English Language in Trans Nzoia West, District of Kenya.” ISSN: 2408-7238 Vol. 2(1) pp. 5-13, March, 2015