Tool "Communication"

Language: English


  1. One and two-way communication
  2. Interpreting body language
  3. Challenges in communication
  4. Listening
  5. Asking open questions
Time 2.30
Approximate number of participants 10-30
Age not relevant
Date published 19 Oct 2011, 14:47


A simple drawing A piece of paper for each person A pen for each person Small cards or pieces of paper with emotions written on them Photocopies of activity sheet Flip chart paper Markers Word cards

Step-by-step instructions

I. One and two-way communication Time: 20 minutes Objective To demonstrate information flow and the differences between one-way, partial two-way, and fully two-way communication

Materials: • A simple drawing • A piece of paper for each person • A pen for each person Preparation: Draw a simple drawing for the narrator to describe to the drawers.


  1. One-way communication: In small groups a volunteer should describe a picture that the other group members should draw. Only the narrator can speak and describe the picture in his or her own terms. They should not use any terms that immediately identify the object.
  2. Partial two-way communication: The drawers are allowed to ask the narrator questions to improve the drawing, to which he or she is allowed to answer only with “yes” or “no”.
  3. Fully two-way communication: The narrator is able to speak freely when responding to the drawers.
  4. Comparison and debriefing: Bring the results of the drawing together and discuss the three levels of communication. Did you feel comfortable that your drawing was accurate after the first round? After the second? The third? Did the narrator feel confident that his or her description was being interpreted accurately by the drawers?

II. Interpreting body language

Time: 20 minutes Objectives: • To explore the importance of body language in communication.

• To identify different types of body language and what they could signify

Materials: Small cards or pieces of paper with emotions written on them Preparation: Cut up small cards for each pair (and add your own if you like).


  1. Split the group into pairs.
  2. One person in each pair is given a piece of paper with an emotion written on it. They should attempt to communicate or ‘act‘ that emotion only using body language.
  3. The second person should try to guess the emotion and imitate the first.
  4. The whole group should discuss body language, its importance and possible impact during peer education.

• What types of body language do you need to look out for during peer education? Why might you see them? • If you see these emotions expressed during a peer education session, what could you do? • What body language would you like to see from participants during peer education? How might you ensure this happens?

Possible emotions:

  • Interested
  • Bored
  • Angry
  • Annoyed
  • Happy
  • Confused
  • Uncomfortable

III. Challenges in communication

Time: 20 minutes Objectives: • To stimulate thought on challenges of communication • To consider how to overcome common communication challenges Materials: Photocopies of activity sheet Preparation: Copy the activity sheet


  1. Divide the group into pairs. Ask for volunteer pairs and assign three pairs each one of the role cards A to C.
  2. Each pair should act out their role in front of the group, for about 2 minutes. Discuss as a whole group, after each one:
  • What was happening in each role play?
  • Do these things happen in real life?
  • How might you overcome such a communication challenge?
  1. Ask pairs to talk together about other possible communication problems. After a couple of minutes, ask if any pairs have thought of one and allow them to act it out.
  2. Discuss these with the group.

Hand-outs: Role cards

Pair A Two people meet – one talks excitedly and quickly about the topic. The other tries to get a word in or ask a question; but the first just talks on and on. In the end the other has no option but to remain in a resigned silence.

Pair B Two people meet and each starts telling the other about the health topic or an event connected to it. Each has a different tale to tell. Neither is listening to the other and both are talking at once.

Pair C Two people meet and begin to talk to each other; each listens while the other speaks; they ask questions. They listen to the answers and share ideas and news with each other.

IV. Listening Time: 40 minutes Objectives: • To become aware of silence and the need for it sometimes during peer education • To consider what makes a good listener and develop listening skills Materials: • Flip chart paper • Markers


  1. Divide the group into two, one half will be the group leaders, and the others young people.
  2. Take the group that are going to take on the role of the young person into another room and brief them with a scenario, for example:

They are a young Polish child and they don’t speak English very well. On the first night of the camp they wet the bed, and the other children have been laughing about it, and playing tricks on them, like putting water on their bed. Now they want to go home and leave camp. Tell them that before they answer any question from the group leader they must count slowly to five in their head. If the questioner makes any noise, then they must start the count again.

  1. Brief the group leaders, tell them that they are group leaders and they have noticed that one young person in their group is unhappy on camp. They should try to get as much information as possible from the child as to why s/he is unhappy.
  2. Bring the groups back together, and pair people up, give them time for the questioner to get as much information as they can from the young person. (10 minutes)
  3. In the large group, find out how much information was revealed, and ask how each side of the situation felt during the role play, discuss approaches different questioners used and how this might apply to peer education situations. (15 minutes)
  4. In groups of three, ask participants to compile their ideas about what makes a good listener and a bad listener on flip chart paper under two columns. (10 minutes)
  5. Stress that a good peer educator should be a good listener. Remind them of other important qualities of peer educators from session one. (5 minutes)

V. Asking Open Questions

Time: 40 minutes Objectives: • To raise awareness of the importance of the phrasing of questions in peer education • To develop skills in asking open questions to aid the learning process Materials: • Flip chart paper • Marker pens • Word cards Preparation: Copy a set of word cards for each pair.


  1. Divide a flip chart into three sections and write: ‘Open questions’, ‘closed questions’ and ‘leading questions’ in the columns. Underneath write an example of each, for example:

Open: What do you think of this workshop? (any response can be given) Closed: Do you like this workshop? (‘yes’, or ‘no’ is needed) Leading: This workshop is excellent isn’t it? (the question is phrased in order to ‘lead’ the listener to an answer) Make sure you have a number of examples prepared to show the difference. (5 minutes)

  1. Ask the group to come up with examples of the different types of questions. (5 minutes)
  2. In the whole group discuss the following: Which type of question is best for encouraging discussion? Why? Briefly discuss the importance of open questions and of being aware of the other two; knowing their limitations and, in the case of leading questions, bias. (5 minutes)
  3. Give out word cards with one question word on each card (see activity sheet)
  4. In pairs participants should think of a topic related to their peer education project and take each card in turn trying to use the word on the card to create a good ‘open question’ on the given subject. At this stage do not use the ‘In what way do you mean?’ card. (10 minutes)
  5. Ask the whole group to try to think of other ways to ask open questions. Also ask them to consider the card ‘In what way do you mean?’ Did they feel like using other phrases similar to this to help develop discussion? List feedback on the flip chart as a whole group. (10 minutes)
  6. As a whole group spend a few minutes adding more examples of open questions and other phrases to develop conversation on the flip chart. Emphasise ‘wh’ questions (who? what? why? when? how?) and phrases that open up conversation (“Can you tell me a bit more about that?”). Would any be particularly useful for the specific content being shared in your peer education project? (5 minutes)

Words (activity sheet)

  • How?
  • Tell me?
  • When?
  • In what way do you mean?
  • What?
  • Why?

Attached files