You are on page 1of 9

TOPIC 2

COMMUNICATION IN THE FOREIGN L. CLASS

VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

EXTRA-LINGUISTIC STRATEGIES: NON-VERBAL REACTIONS TO MESSAGES IN


DIFFERENT CONTEXTS.

Before I begin to deal in detail with this topic I’d like to say that the bibliography that I’ve used to develop
this topic consisted in the followings works:
D. Vale and A. Feunteun’ book “Teaching Children English”, published by Cambridge in 1995.
W. Littlewood’s book “Communicate Language Teaching” published by Cambridge University Press in
1981.

As an introduction I would like to say that when we think about language and communication we usually
think of speaking. But, psychologists say that words make up only seven per cent of the communication
we do. Then, what does the other 93% refer to? This 93 % is referred to as non-verbal communication. Then
in our communication events we have to consider two types of communication: Verbal and Non-verbal
communication. Verbal communication does not mean oral; it is communication with words which can
be presented in an oral or written way. On the other hand, we have Non-verbal communication, it does not
mean written. It is communicating without words and refers to body language, gestures, senses, facial
expressions, tone of voice, stress and so on. In other words What you say is less important than How you
say it!.

I’ve divided this topic into 3 main areas:


In the first area I’ll deal with the idea of communication and the two types of communication,
then in the second area I’ll deal in detail with Non- verbal communication and its types,
finally in the third area I’ll look at activities to promote non-verbal communication in the English
classroom.

To begin with my first area of the topic I would like to give a general idea about what we understand by
communication.
Communication takes place when someone says or writes something which is heard or read by
someone else, who then responds.
Successful communication is when the intention of the speaker or writer and the interpretation of the
hearer, listener or reader coincides.

1
Nowadays, one of the methodologies followed to achieve successful or effective communication in the
English classroom is The communicative approach .This approach arose in the 1970s as a reaction to the
Audio-lingual method of 60s, which paid more attention to structure than to its function. The CA pays
systematic attention to the functional as well as the structural aspects of L. this theory claims that learning
a L is not only learning structures, it’s also necessary to know how to use them by keeping in mind variables
such as the moment, the place, the social conventions and the channel used.
Communication in the foreign L class is strongly related to communicative competence, as the main goal
of L acquisition is to achieve this competence which is the ability to use the L correctly and appropriately to
achieve communicative goals..

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN THE COMMUNICATIVE CLASS


INPUT:
is the L to which the student is exposed
At the beginning the input should be oral because a L is learnt by listening.
The more abundant and varied the input, the better communicative skills the student will develop.

But the input we should offer must follow the principles bellow:
- It should be comprehensible to them. In order to achieve this we can use any aid that helps with the
understanding. However, they should be exposed to a stage further than their level competence so
that they can progress in their L learning. This theory comes from Krashen.
- Be accompanied with enough contextual support to facilitate their understanding
- It should be related to students’ interests
- Applicable to a wide number of situations, so that they learn to communicate in different
situations and circumstances in real life.

THE TEACHER AND LEARNER ROLES:


Teacher role:
The centre of gravity of the teaching-learning process has moved away from the teacher and closer to the
student, however, the teacher continues to have a key role in student learning. Now there is increasing
emphasis on student autonomy
Nowadays, the good teacher is more than a lecturer. Although the lecture remains as one of the most widely
used instructional methods, there are methods more effective such as problem-based learning, community-
based learning, Integrated teaching, which have changed the role of the teacher. In contrast with the
authoritarian roles of traditional teaching, the teacher should be:
A monitor, a facilitator, a model, an assessor and a participant (independent participant within the
group)

2
The move to a more student-centred view of learning has required a fundamental shift in the role of the
teacher. The teacher is no longer seen predominantly as a dispenser of information or walking tape
recorder, but rather as a facilitator or manager of the students' learning. A good teacher can be defined as
a teacher who helps the student to learn and who guides and monitors students’ performances. For this
reason, is said that a teacher is a monitor. The role of the teacher has progressed from one of information
provider to one of facilitator.
It’s proved that when students listen to a speech they just retain the , on the other hand if they discuss , they
retain the
The role model: Students learn not just from what their teachers say but from what they do and behave in
classes; that is, the knowledge, skills and attitudes they exhibit. Teachers are the model from which the
students copy and learn.
Teachers are also assessors but they don’t have to assess only the students, but they have to assess
theirselves too.

Learner roles. As feedback classes are well recognized because they give the students the opportunity to
interact, to express, to communicate, and so on, magistral classes have lost defensors. This change in the
methodology, has also change the role of the students. Now they are no more passive roles, but active ones
who are involved in their learning process. E.g they are asked to be self avaluated; their opinions, feelings
and motivation are taken into account. And finally, they have higher autonomy and work independently.

When talking about


STUDENT GROUPINGS, we can find different dispositions such as whole group, pair-work or group-
work. Each of one suits different types of works and has its own advantages and disadvantages, however,
lately has gained importance GROUP WORK of 3 or 4 participants as it gives opportunity for cooperative
learning, that is sharing knowledge and learning from the other one. It also favours communicative
situations.

COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES:
These activities focus more on the message than on the linguistic features of L.
The C. A believes that the practice of COM.ACT. will produce an unconscious learning of the structures of
the L. Children learn how to speak without knowing anything about verbs, adjectives or verbal tenses.
A co.act must be:
- INTERACTIVE: 2 or more people are involved in the communic interaction
- UNPREDICTABLE: a student has to seek the information his partner has. This will create the
necessity and the desire to communicate

3
- WITHIN A CONTEXT: this refers to the situational context (place, time, channel…) and the
linguistic context (vocabulary, cohesion)
- AUTHENTIC: the L used should be similar to an English speaking person.
- DEVELOPED WITHIN A RELAXED ATMOSPHERE: If the student is under normal
emotional conditions, the learning will be more effective. This idea is based on Krashen’s Natural
Learning. He named this condition “affective filter”. According to Krashen the affective filter
allows or blocks the students’ learning.

As I’ve said before, we have two basic types of communication: verbal and non-verbal
communication and both are very important to achieve with our pupils but we need to pay attention to non-
verbal forms in the English classroom because, it is not enough to achieve effective communication by
only learning vocabulary and grammar forms.

Traditionally Language classes emphasized verbal language and much more importance was given to
reading and writing skills than to listening and speaking. Nowadays, foreign language teaching at
primary school level aims to help pupils to achieve communicative competence and for that it is
necessary to include non-verbal competence, as well.

Verbal communication,
it is communication through words, using words.
The words can appear in two different forms: oral or written.
Verbal communication involves the oral skills, listening and speaking, and the written skills, reading and
writing
Therefore, in the foreign language class we must teach the four basic skills so that our students become
competent to communicate by them in real life situations.

I’ve said that in verbal communication we can find oral and written communication. Then, I’ll consider the
differences between both.

1. The most obvious difference is the physical form:


while the written language uses graphs that are marks on a surface,
speech uses the form of air-pressure movements.

2. O.L it’s transitory and dynamic while written L is PERMANENT and STATIC ( one can read a
text over and over again) O.L gives the interlocutors the opportunity of Feed-back: At any point
in speech, speakers can rephrase what they are saying, they can slow down or speed up. This will

4
often be done in response to the feedback they are getting from the listeners. However, this feature
is not possible in written L since it’s static.

3. Written L is more DIFFICULT to learn than oral language, on one hand, because of the unique
graphic features such as spelling or punctuation, and, on the other hand, because of the
great difference between the oral and written form . This usually leads students to having
problems when writing. The difficulty of the written medium, involves that at basic levels,
written L must be introduced later than oral skills. The writing skills becomes the last and the
slowest skill to acquire.

4. O.L is spontaneous and informal as while written L is more FORMAL. This feature makes written
L to need more CORRECTION and ACCURACY. Sentences in written L should be complete and
grammatically correct, and words should be well-spelt. A piece of writing, with mistakes,
unfinished sentences would be judged as a bad one.

5. In O.L in a face to face interaction the speaker can use a whole range of resources to reinforce the
message Facial expressions, gestures and body language:. A writer can use other techniques to
express feelings and attitudes, such as punctuation marks or descriptive vocabulary.

There are lots of communicative activities to practice O.L such as role-plays, guided dialogues, questions,
reciting and singing, etc
There are lots of communicative activities to practice written L such as writing short letters, writing a
diary, writing to pen friends, filling in forms, easy descriptions, etc

The English teacher should take every opportunity available to use everyday L in the classroom. The
genuine (real) use of L allows the student to learn a series of structures and vocabulary effortlessly. The
objective should be understanding the input, as well as acquiring some L items.

The teacher can make use of the L in these situations:


At the beginning of the class: It’s very advisable for the teacher to greet his/her students IN ENGLISH
marking a change in the subject and preparing the students’ mood. For ex:

Hello everyone/ children, good morning! It’s time for English! How are you today?

The students could also sing a short established song to begin the class.

5
THE DATE: Saying and writing the date in English allows frequent reviews of the days of the week,
months and numbers.
What day is it today? Monday. Great, and what month? April

Instructions
Imperative verbs such as look, listen, write, draw, point, open or close the books, etc can be learnt easily
since the teacher repeats them many times

Encouraging sentences and words. They are essential at a phsychological level because they give the
approval to their work and motivates them.
Well done! Very good! Excellent! That’s right! Great

Correcting. It should be done with words which encourage an EXTRA EFFORT


Well, not exactly…try again can you repeat that?

Finishing the class:


Farewell sentences MARK THE END of the session
- It’s time to finish and tidy up
- Goodbye, everyone! See you next Friday!
- Have a nice day

As well as in the beginning of the class, the students can sing a short established song to mark the end of the
class.

Once exposed verbal communication, it’s the turn for non-verbal communication:

Non-verbal communication
It’s usually understood as the process of sending and receiving wordless messages. Such messages can be
communicated through many ways: gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact,
paralinguistic features such as stress, intonation, rhythm and tone of voice, etc..

- It helps to express and to understand messages when the linguistic competence is not very high.
E.g: using drawings or expressions
- It has an enormous pedagogical potential, since the use of expressions, drawings, sounds or
movements is highly attractive and motivated for children. The more senses involved, the more
effective it will be.

6
- It favours the learning of social and cultural conventions. But we must underline that in order to
communicate effectively in a culture, it is necessary to be familiar with the culture’s non-verbal
patterns of communication. For one reason, non-verbal signals which are acceptable in one culture
may be completely unacceptable in another.

In the English class we can use the following non-verbal language:

GESTURES AND BODY LANGUAGE


It includes facial expressions, posture, eye and hand movements… They usually accompany the verbal
language to emphasize it.
This type of L is very rich and can express a great variety of attitudes and feelings such as happiness,
serenity, anger, etc.

PHYSICAL MOVEMENTS
Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method built around the coordination of commands
and actions;
1. It attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity among children.

2. TPR is very popular with young learners because it

- develops listening skills,

- introduce new language in a very visual way,

- does not at first put pressure on young learners to speak.

3. This method was developed by James Asher, who claimed that second Language teaching should

imitate first L acquisition, so this method must follow the principles below:

- Comprehension abilities precede productive skills in learning a language. So speaking is delayed until

oral comprehension is established.

- teaching should focus on meaning rather than structure

- Teaching should reduce learners’ stress. The teacher must create a positive mood in the learner by

delaying oral production and by demanding game-like movements.

TPR activities are enjoyable, easy for the teacher to use and easy for pupils because they can copy from
their mates and they don’t have to produce language.

7
VISUAL AIDS:
The visual support of pictures, drawings, flash-cards, posters, graphs, etc… can help understand the
message, because of the communicative power of image. As the saying goes One image is worth a
thousand words-. The teacher can use them in vocabulary presentation, stories and communicative
activities.
A child who is listening and seeing at the same time learns more than if he/she just listens.
Images help to retain what is being learnt.

AUDITORY AIDS:
Auditory aids such as sounds, noises, songs and rhythms have great pedagogical and communicative power
because they help to retain what is being learnt: if the child is learning animal vocabulary, hearing the
sound of the animal while listening to the word is very effective.
Moreover, they can help to foster the pronunciation and to the learning of structures and vocabulary.

PARALINGUISTIC FEATURES
It’s the type of non-verbal communication related to stress, intonation and tone of voice.
They accompany the words we pronounce.

Stress highlights the essential words of the discourse. E.g this is MY book, not YOURS.
Intonation is the melody of the sentence and students should learn how to use intonation correctly to
sound like a native speaker since this L has many inflections
Tone of voice: changing our tone of voice we can transmit different feelings. Moreover, students should
know that the Spanish culture is noisier than the English one. The English tends to be quieter and
repress their emotions.
These non-verbal paralinguistic features help enforce verbal messages.

Finally in the third area I’ll deal with extra-linguistic strategies and the activities promoting non-
verbal communication.
Extralinguistic strategies are the strategies used in the communication events apart from the language,
these are non-verbal strategies such as body language, gestures and so on. It would be very difficult to teach
English only using verbal communication, and without any extralinguistic support.

Teachers can put in practice with their children several activities in which students will understand the
message, but they will not be requested to utter a verbal answer .These are non-verbal reactions to
messages in different context and here I present some of them:

8
 Physical response to commands. The teacher says a command like stand up, go to the door, Pick
up your pencil/, etc. this activity is based on the TPR.
The game Simon Says is one example. Our pupils have to perform the orders, only when we say:
Simon Says before the command. We can do it at any level, it is necessary to adapt the commands’
difficulty.
 POINTING out. Students point out objects, numbers, letters, people, etc that the teacher or other
student commands.

 MIMING the story. Students can mime a story they are listening to by using gestures, body
language and sounds. For example: “..there was a frog jumping, jumping on the river” then our
pupils should jump like a frog.
 Sequencing: students order the sequence of a story they have listened.

 Responding to instructions to build a HANDICRAFT. E.g , paint with felt pens, cut with
scissors, stick
 Physical response to the lyrics of a SONG. The students can mime songs like: “ Head and
shoulders” or “ If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands…”.

 VIDEO: we can show our pupils a video without volume, in a silent way. Then the pupils
must pay attention to the extra-linguistic features, the characters’ facial expressions, in their
gestures, their movements, etc in order to guess what is happening. They would predict and
guess the dialogue or the feeling of the characters. The teacher could help them asking
questions like: Are the boys happy? Are they friends?, depending on the video.

CONCLUSION:
The main objective of the English class is to communicate. When communicating, we don’t only use words,
we also use expressions, drawings, intonation, sounds. In short, we use verbal and non-verbal C.
Non-verbal communication has great communicative potential, which shouldn’t be ignored when teaching
English
Teaching our students non-verbal communication is very important to improve their communication ability.
In fact, one of the aspects of communicative competence is strategic competence which aims the student’s
ability to use verbal and non-verbal communication in order to achieve an effective communication

To sum up, non verbal communication is useful in the English class because it helps to develop
communicative strategies and improve communicative competence, which is the aim of the LOE.