Three modes of communication


Communicative Modes in detail

Interpersonal Mode
The Interpersonal Mode is characterized by active negotiation of meaning among individuals. Participants observe and monitor one another to see how their meaning and intentions are being communicated. Adjustments and clarifications can be made accordingly. As a result, there is a higher probability of ultimately achieving the goal of successful communication in this mode than in the other two modes. The Interpersonal Mode is most obvious in conversation, but both the interpersonal and negotiated dimensions can be realized through reading and writing, such as the exchange of personal letters or electronic mail messages.

Interpersonal examples
  1. Exchange information via letters, e-mail/video mail, notes, conversations or interviews on familiar topics (e.g., school events, weekend activities, memorable experiences, family life).
  2. Express and compare opinions and preferences about information gathered regarding events, experiences and other school subjects.
  3. Clarify meaning (e.g., paraphrasing, questioning).
  4. Give and follow directions, instructions and requests (e.g., installing software, dance steps).
  5. Demonstrate the ability to acquire goods, services or information (e.g., using public transportation, making a hotel reservation, buying food).

Interpretive Mode
The Interpretive Mode is focused on the appropriate cultural interpretation of meanings that occur in written and spoken form where there is no recourse to the active negotiation of meaning with the writer or the speaker. Such instances of “one-way” reading or listening include the cultural interpretation of texts, oral or written, must be distinguished from the notion of reading and listening “comprehension,” where the term could refer to understanding a text with an American mindset. Put another way, interpretation differs from comprehension in that the former implies the ability to “read (or listen) between the lines.”
Since the Interpretive Mode does not allow for active negotiation between the reader and the writer or the listener and the speaker, it requires a much more profound knowledge of culture from the outset. The more one knows about the other language and culture, the greater the chances of creating the appropriate cultural interpretations of a written or spoken text. It must be noted, however, that cultural literacy and the ability to read or listen between the lines are developed over time and through exposure to the language and culture.

Interpretive examples
  1. Follow directions, instructions and requests (e.g., recipes, travel directions, prompts on ATMs).
  2. Use listening and reading strategies (e.g., skimming and scanning techniques) to determine main ideas and purpose.

Presentational Mode
The Presentational Mode refers to the creation of messages in a manner that facilities interpretation by members of the other culture where no direct opportunity for active negotiation of meaning between members of the two cultures exists. Examples of the “one-way” writing and speaking require a substantial knowledge of language and culture from the outset, since the goal is to make sure that members of the other culture, the audience, will be successful in reading and listening between the lines.

Presentational examples
  1. Summarize information from authentic language materials and artifacts (e.g., TV programs, articles from youth magazines, Internet, videos, currency) and give personal reactions.
  2. Use information acquired from target language sources to solve everyday problems and situations (e.g., using a newspaper to make plans to see a movie, perusing a catalog to shop for a birthday gift, watching a weather forecast to help plan an activity).
  3. Create and present a narrative (e.g., current events, personal experiences, school happenings).
  4. Present differences in products and practices (e.g., sports, celebrations, school life) found in the target culture.
  5. Prepare and deliver a summary of characters and plot in selected pieces of literature.
  6. Apply age-appropriate writing process strategies (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing).

National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project (2006). Standards for foreign language learning in the 21st century. Lawrence, KS: Allen Press, Inc. pp. 36-38.
Ohio Foreign Language Standards