October 15, 2003
October 15, 2003
Communication in most cultures is either written or verbal, but varying degrees of non-verbal communication, in the form of body language, also exist. The purpose of non-verbal communication is to give signals to the other participants in the conversation. If those non-verbal signals, which work in one's own culture, do not work in another culture, one is opening the door for misunderstanding. The following is a list of body language points I try to instill in my students from an early age because developing such habits supports the flow of English in a natural way. It is easier to do this with youngsters because they have not yet become accustomed to speaking English with Japanese body language.
Do's and Don'ts for Body Language When Speaking English:
These points do not need to be outlined or dictated to the students at any point in time. Instead, as they come to your class and study English together, the Do's and Don'ts can be given attention in a positive, repetitive way. During self-introductions or pair work, for example, the teacher can show the students how to focus on eye contact and how to shake hands. If a girl speaks and covers her mouth, the teacher can show her how to speak without covering her mouth; then she should speak again without covering her mouth. A boy who shouts out an answer in a loud, disturbing voice can be asked to repeat the answer in a normal voice. It is all a process, which takes time. But it's a worthwhile process which deserves attention from the teacher. Body language is an integral part of language acquisition and presentation; the earlier students learn what works and does not work in English, the better.