Analysis of communication barriers in teaching learning process

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1.     Communication

Exchange of messages in between two or more than two individuals in the form of voice, signs both verbal and written, is communication. According to Thill(2005), the process of communication includes the following steps:

1.      Sender has some thought in mind

2.      Sender encodes ideas

3.      Sender transmits message

4.      Receiver receives message

5.      Receiver decodes message

6.      Receiver replies with feedback

2.     Barriers to effective communication

Thill(2005,p.05 ) includes following as getting in the way of communication,  as barriers in effective communication:

1.      Distraction

a.       Physical distraction

b.      Emotional distraction

2.      Information overload

3.      Perceptual differences

4.      Language differences

5.      Restrictive environments

6.      Deceptive tactics

Sharma (2005,p.06) considers following barriers in effective communication:

1.      Sender or receiver

2.      Interpersonal transaction

a.       Emotional reaction

b.      Negative attitudes

c.       Wrong timings

3.      Communication networks

Guffey (2003,p.74) classifies barriers into

1.      Mental barriers

a.       Inattention

b.      Prejudgment

c.       Frame of reference

d.      Close mindedness

e.       Psudolistening

2.      Physical and other barriers

a.       Hearing impairment

b.      Noisy surroundings

c.       Appearance of speaker

d.      Mannerism/behavior of speaker

Erven( n.d) Considers that following eight  barriers interrupt communication:

Problems with any one of the components of the communication model can become a

barrier to communication.

1. mixed-up messages – Effective communication starts with a clear message.  mixed-up messages are a barrier to communication because the sender leaves the receiver

unclear about the intent of the sender. Muddled messages have many causes. The sender

may be confused in his or her thinking. The message may be little more than a vague

idea. (Erven,n.d)

2. Stereotyping – Stereotyping causes us to typify a person, a group, an event or a thing on oversimplified conceptions, beliefs, or opinions. Thus, basketball players can be stereotyped as tall, green equipment as better than red equipment, football linemen as dumb. Stereotyping is a barrier to communication when it causes people to act as if they already know the message that is coming from the sender or worse, as if no message is necessary because “everybody already knows.” Both senders and listeners should continuously look for and address thinking, conclusions and actions based on stereotypes.(Erven,n.d)

3. Wrong channel – “Good morning.” An oral channel for this message is highly appropriate. Writing “GOOD MORNING!” on a chalkboard in the machine shed is less

effective than a warm oral greeting. On the other hand, a detailed request to a contractor for construction of a furrowing house should be in writing, i.e., non-oral. A long conversation between a pork producer and a contractor about the furrowing house construction, with neither taking notes, surely will result in confusion and misunderstanding. These simple examples illustrate how the wrong channel can be a barrier to communication.(Erven,n.d)

4. Language – Words are not reality. Words as the sender understands them are combined with the perceptions of those words by the receiver. Language represents only part of the whole. We fill in the rest with perceptions. Trying to understand a foreign language easily demonstrates words not being reality. Each new employee needs to be taught the language of the farm. Until the farm’s language is learned, it can be as much a barrier to communication as a foreign language.

5. Lack of feedback – Feedback is the mirror of communication. Feedback mirrors what the sender has sent. Feedback is the receiver sending back to the sender the message as perceived. Without feedback, communication is one-way. Feedback happens in a variety of ways. Asking a person to repeat what has been said, e.g., repeat instructions, is a very direct way of getting feedback.  Both sender and receiver can play an active role in using feedback to make communication truly two-way.

6. Poor listening skills – Listening is difficult. A typical speaker says about 125 words per minute. The typical listener can receive 400-600 words per minute. Thus, about 75 percent of listening time is free time. The free time often sidetracks the listener. The solution is to be an active rather than passive listener. An angry person will not start listening until they have “cooled” down. Telling an angry person to “cool” down often has the opposite effect. Getting angry with an angry person only assures that there are now two people not listening to what the other is saying.

7. Interruptions

The interruptions may be due to something more pressing, rudeness, lack of privacy for discussion, a drop-in visitor, an emergency, or even the curiosity of someone else wanting to know what two other people are saying.

8. Physical distractions – Physical distractions are the physical things that get in the way of communication. Examples of such things include the telephone, a pick-up truck door, a desk, an uncomfortable meeting place, and noise.

3. Teaching learning process is communication process between the teacher and students

Teaching learning process is communication between teacher and student. It may be in the form of verbal or non verbal communication. Teachers speaks, students listen, students speak, teacher listens, both can discuss some thing, some topic etc.

4.     Communication barriers in teaching learning process

There may be many barriers in teaching learning process, which are divided here in the following way:

1.      Barriers regarding teacher

2.      Barriers regarding students

3.      Barriers regarding communication medium

4.      Barriers regarding environment

4.1.         Barriers regarding teacher

Teacher plays a pivotal role in teaching learning process, his appearance must never create problems in communication, as he is the basic part of communication process, but on his own case, he may be right, the students may be distracting, school atmosphere, home problems etc may disturb his functioning effectively. The barriers belonging to teacher may be as follows:

1.     Ignoring student psychology

If teacher considers all students of same caliber and nature, he can not communicate extreme level students, i.e. very intelligent and very dull. Every student has his own psychology, and thus can not be communicated in the same way. This situation creates communication problems.

2.     Upper or lower level of lecture/lesson

The same situation as described in the early barrier explanation, some times very difficult lecture creates communication problem, and some times, very easy topic of lecture distracts students’ attention.

3.     Voice reaching problem

If classroom is large, students’ strength is more than twenty, or the teacher’s voice is low pitched, it can not be heard to every student, which causes communication problems.

4.     Use of tough vocabulary

When teacher does not take care while choosing vocabulary for the students according to their mental, proficiency and language level, and uses tough vocabulary, especially if teaching in a foreign language, it becomes hurdle in effective communication of teachers and students.

5.     Less or no eye contact

Teacher needs to take care of eye contact, as if students are not contacted with eyes, they can not communicate well, and thus problem occurs.

6.     Lack of specialized knowledge

When a teacher lacks specialized knowledge in the subject, he can not communicate well, which becomes a barrier in teaching learning process

7.     Lack of training for better communication

Usually, teachers are not trained about how to communicate with students and make teaching learning process commutable. This dearth results in barrier to effective teaching learning process.

8.     Less personal interest

When teachers do not bother whether students are listening or not, attending lecture or not, the students also take it easy and do not concentrate on their studies.

9.     General speaking

Some teachers do not prepare lectures; they just go to the institute, pass time and come back. They talk general topics in the classroom and not focus on the academic material. It makes students boring and those who come with mind to get new course knowledge, go back without any increase in knowledge.

10.Not allowing questioning

Some teachers do not allow students to raise questions while the are giving lecture. It stops students from thinking and asking questions for at once clarification of the lecture. It is also a big hurdle.

11.No emotional contact

Those teachers, who do not bother to have an emotional contact with them, do not completely understand the students. It creates problem in communication.

12.No lesson planning

When you do not plan, what to speak, you can not speak effectively. When teachers do not prepare lecture to present, they can not communicate effectively.

13.Lack of feed back

The open Unversity(2006) found that the most significant barrier in effective communication in teaching learning process was lack of feedback.

4.2.         Barriers regarding students

1.     Less attention

When students pay no or less attention to what the teacher is saying, they can not communicate with them. The barrier in communication with reference to the student is less attention.

2.     Less responsive

When students do not seem willing to respond teacher, they create communication problems in teaching learning process

3.     No previous knowledge

If students have no previous of the topic being taught, they understand it difficultly.

4.     Absenteeism

Students do not come to university on daily basis. When they miss one or two lectures, they can not fulfill that deficiency.

5.     Domestic problems

Domestic problems make students tense on how to handle them, and  thus, they can not understand the lecture effectively

6.     Physical problems

Physical disabilities may include:

a.       Deafness or hearing loss

b.      · Blindness or impaired vision

c.       · Aphasia or speech disabilities

These problems interrupt communication between teacher and students

7.     Not trying

Students may try and not try of learning something, if they are not willing, there exists hurdle between Pakistan and   USA

8.     Not listening in actual

Sometimes, teacher speaks of to make it precise and comprehendible, but some students do not listen actually, they put their dumb ear on it. Thus, communication is stopped.

9.     Boredom

When students are bored, they can not listen to understand and answer questions


When students are tired, they can not pay full attention to lecture and thus become reason for communication collapse.

11. Mental level

Sometimes, students feel lectures very tough and can not understand, and some times, fell too much simple and easy to waste time to listen, thus become barrier in communication.

12.Emotional disturbance

Students are human beings. They can be disturbed emotionally. When such situation arises, they can not communicate effectively.

4.3.         Barriers regarding medium of communication

Sometimes, both teachers and students are willing for communication, but some other barriers occur, they are usually regarding medium of communication. Here is a list of barriers regarding medium:

1.     Outdated

Outdated medium of communication causes barrier in teaching learning process

2.     Out of reach

When medium is out of reach, if it is television, and is far away from the students, they can not see it effectively.

3.     Not attractive

If medium of communication is not attractive to students, they do not become willing to communicate with teachers.

4.     Dependent

When medium of communication is dependent upon other things, it can run away with that independent medium, thus resulting in poor or no communication.

5.     Not inclusive

When medium of communication is not inclusive, both teachers and students lack communication, and thus teaching learning process is disturbed.

4.4.         Barriers regarding environment

Some barriers regarding environment also interrupt effective communication between teacher and taught. Theses are discussed below:

1.     Noisy

When it is noise everywhere, one can not focus for so much time, thus communication is disturbed.

2.     Tight

When there is tight environment, where one can not move, can not ask question, there can be no better communication.

3.     Weather effects

Weather also effects, where there it is prominent in classrooms, and the teaching learning process is disrupted.

4.     Class strength

Class strength counts a lot. Ideal class strength should be made possible, otherwise, communication in teaching learning process will not be possible.

5.     Outside school guests

Monitoring teams, officials etc also disrupt teaching learning process. Whenever they come, that time no teaching learning process can actually be done.

5.     General barriers to effective communication in teaching learning process 5.1.         Cognitive Barriers to Learning

1.      Literacy Problems

2.      Numeracy problems constitute inability to understand the relationship between a word problem and the numerical concept/rule of number

3.      Thinking skills/Problem solving

4.      Concentration

5.2.          Social-emotional Barriers to Learning

1.      Unwilling to engage in particular academic task-sees self as bound to fail

2.      Low self image  sees self as unworthy of attention, not valued by others

3.      Poor/lack of positive peer relationships plays alone, sits alone, engages negatively with peers (ineffective social strategies

4.      Poor adult relationships/authority figures Struggle to work effectively/relate to adults

6.      Negatively reacts to the presence or interaction of an adult

6.1.          Family Circumstances Barriers to Learning

There are many potential barriers to communication that must be recognized by those involved—

especially those in supervisory positions.

Possible Barriers:

1. Symbols or words that have different meanings.

Some words mean different things to people depending on background or culture. A large amount of terminology is used in the hospital and misunderstanding is often the cause of problems.

2. Different values within the group.

Everyone has their own value system and many do not recognize the value of others.

(Example: Supervisor may speak with staff about penalties for being late for work. Some students may not value the need to be on time, and may not actively listen to what the supervisor is talking about.)

3. Different perceptions of the problem.

Problems exist in all groups, organizations, and businesses. Problems differ depending on the individual’s perception of the problem.

4. Emphasis on status.

If people in power or higher superiority in the organization consistently remind others of their station, communication will be stifled. Students may hesitate to tell you problems or concerns if you overemphasize your superiority and appear threatening.

5. Conflict of interest.

People may be fearful of change or worried that the change will take away their advantage or invade their territory. This fear may cause people to block communication.

6. Lack of acceptance of differences in points of view, feelings, values, or purposes.

Be aware that people have different opinions, feelings, and values. People must be allowed to express feelings and points of view. Accepting input from others promotes growth and cooperation.

7. Feelings of personal insecurity.

Be aware that it is difficult for people to admit feelings of inadequacy. People will not offer information for fear that they may appear ignorant, or they may be defensive when criticized.

6.2.          Physical disabilities

Physical disabilities also create problems in communication while teaching learning process is going on because of the following barriers:

a.       Deafness or hearing loss

b.      · Blindness or impaired vision

c.       Aphasia or speech disabilities

6.3.          Psychological attitudes and prejudice

Psychological barriers are often caused by:

1. Prejudice

2. Attitudes

3. Personality

5.6. Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity may interfere with communication in other ways:

1. Language differences – people who don’t speak English may have a difficult time communicating

2. Eye contact – in some cultures, it’s not acceptable, and looking down is a sign of respect

3. Terminal illness – in some cultures, the patient is NOT told his/her prognosis, and family members are responsible for making care decisions

4. Touch – in some cultures, it is wrong to touch someone

on the head

5. Personal care – in some cultures, only family members

provide personal care

Respect and acceptance of cultural diversity is essential for any health care worker

5.7.          Non Verbal barriers

There are non-verbal barriers to communication too. A teacher needs to have the right physical appearance. If he is too scruffy then it might look as if he did not care or was not professional. Poor eye contact shows a lack of interest.

5.8.          Silence

Silence is another barrier in teaching learning communication process. Different aspects of it are described by Collins(1997):

Emotional Aspects of Silence

a pupil’s quiet behaviour may be related to their feelings of anxiety, their difficulty in forming relationships with teachers and, in extreme cases, serious emotional trauma. Interviews and observations of quiet pupils in a number of settings reveal that quiet pupils feel anxious about being asked to speak in class.

Psychological Aspects of Silence

However, evidence suggests that quiet withdrawn pupils are often overlooked in busy classrooms. Moreover, the fact that few writers include habitually quiet behaviour in their definition of disaffection implies that the term ’emotional and behavioural difficulty’ is more likely to be used to define loud, disruptive and potentially aggressive pupils.

Practical Aspects of Silence

Many quiet pupils experience these kind of difficulties in talking to their teacher on a one-to-one basis. However, a common theme running through all the quiet pupils’ accounts of classroom talk is the difficulties they experience in getting or holding their teachers attention particularly during whole class discussions.

Social Aspects of Silence

Historically, a transmission model of learning was attractive because it encouraged children to be passive recipients of knowledge in order to fit them for their appropriate role in society. As pupils address the tasks set for them they naturally develop them in their own ways and to meet their own needs.

5.9.          Barriers to Listening

  • Focusing on a personal agenda. When we spend our listening time formulating our next response, we cannot be fully attentive to what the speaker is saying.
  • Hearing emotional noise. We react emotionally to certain words, concepts and ideas, and to a myriad of other cues from speakers (appearance, non-verbal cues). Make a conscious effort to quiet your own emotional reactions so that you can listen properly.
  • Criticizing the speaker. Do not be distracted by critical evaluations of the speaker. Focus on what they are saying – the message – rather than the messenger.
  • Understanding speech rate vs thought rate. Speech rate (125 words per minute) is usually much slower than the rate at which we think (600-800 words per minute). You may need to focus on using that extra mental time to clarify and organize, in your mind, what the speaker is saying. Conversely, when the listener is communicating in a second language, it may be important for the speaker to slow down the rate of speech.
  • Experiencing information overload. Too much stimulation or information can make it very difficult to listen with full attention. Try to focus on the relevant information, and the central points that are being conveyed.
  • Hearing external “noise”. Audible noise may be extremely distracting. Some things can be minimized – e.g., turn down the ringer on your phone, and the email beep on the computer while meeting with someone. Other noises may be unavoidable – e.g., construction, other people. Also, there may be figurative “noise” from the external environment, such as distracting or inappropriate decor in a room, or environmental conditions (i.e., room is too hot or cold).
  • Experiencing physical difficulty. Feeling physically unwell, or experiencing pain can make it very difficult to listen effectively. You may wish to communicate that this is not a good time, and reschedule the discussion. Otherwise, you may just need to concentrate even more on the task of listening. (University of Waterloo,n.d)

5.10.     Barriers to Accurate Perception

  • Stereotyping and generalizing. Be careful not to hold on to preconceptions about people or things. We often have a tendency to see what we want to see, forming an impression from a small amount of information or one experience, and assuming that to be highly representative of the whole person or situation.
  • Not investing time. Making assumptions and ignoring details or circumstances can lead to misconceptions. When we fail to look in-depth for causes or circumstances, we miss important details, and do not allow for the complexity of the situation.
  • Having a distorted focus. Focusing on the negative aspects of a conversation or a situation is a habit common to many people. Even though we may recognize the positive things, we often give more weight to the negative (i.e., one negative comment overshadows numerous positive ones).
  • Assuming similar interpretations. Not everyone will draw the same conclusions from a given situation or set of information. Everybody interprets things differently. Make sure to check for other people’s interpretations, and be explicit about your own. People need not always think alike, but do not assume that they will. Similarly, do not assume that everyone shares your priorities. Explicitly identify relevant goals, values, and priorities when working with other people.
  • Experiencing incongruent cues. Try to be consistent in the message that you send. If someone else is inconsistent, ask for clarification. As speakers, and as listeners, we are constantly, and simultaneously sending cues and receiving them from other people. Try to be consistent with your verbal cues and your body language. Do not say one thing and do another. Be aware of how your body language relates to your spoken words. (University of Waterloo,n.d)

5.11.     Barriers to Effective Verbal Communication

  • Lacking clarity. Different people may interpret the same words differently. Be as precise and clear as possible about your facts, and the interpretations and meanings you are deriving from them. Also, beware of abstract, overly-formal language, colloquialisms, and jargon, which obscure your message more than they serve to impress people.
  • Using stereotypes and generalizations. A speaker who makes unqualified generalizations, or fails to recognize change (i.e., in the labels, categories, or terms they use) undermines their own clarity and credibility. Be careful not to get stuck in the habit of using stereotypes, or making generalizations about people, places or things. Where your goal is to communicate and connect with other people, biased language and general labels tend to create barriers. Another form of generalization is “polarization” or creating extremes. Try to be sensitive to the complexities of situations, rather than viewing the world simplistically (e.g., “I’m right; you’re wrong.” “They’re either with us or they’re against us.”)
  • Jumping to conclusions. Confusing facts with inferences is a common tendency. Do not assume you know the reasons behind events, or that certain facts necessarily have certain implications. Make sure you have all the information you can get, and then speak clearly about the facts versus the meanings or interpretations you attach to those.
  • Using disconfirming responses. There are a number of ways that we might respond to other people which have a negative effect on the communication between ourselves and others. Beware of:
    • failing to acknowledge attempts to communicate (giving no response at all)
    • interrupting
    • making an irrelevant response (not addressing what was just said)
  • Lacking Confidence. A lack of confidence can be a major barrier to effective communication. Shyness, difficulty being assertive, or lack of self-worth can hinder your ability to make your needs and opinions known. Also, a lack of awareness of your own rights and opportunities in a given situation can prevent you from expressing your needs openly. (University of Waterloo,n.d)


We can conclude that, there are different kinds of communication barriers, and these all must be considered while teaching by the teachers, so that they may communicate effectively.

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