Steve Darn - ELT
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NVC: An Awareness-raising Workshop

This is an outline of a workshop designed to give teachers an insight into the importance of teaching nonverbal communication alongside phonology and speaking skills in order to improve learners’ ability to communicate naturally and convey meaning more clearly.

Time: 60-90 minutes Audience: preferably at least one other language/culture group as well as native speakers. A multilingual group would be ideal.

Aims

  • To raise awareness of the importance of nonverbal communication.
  • To provide information on the nature and functions of nonverbal communication.
  • To demonstrate the need to teach aspects of nonverbal communication, particularly gestures.
  • To demonstrate the use of nonverbal communication as a teaching tool.

Stage 1

Running (wall) dictation to introduce the topic and empahasize the importance of nonverbal communication.
Text:
Nonverbal communication is the unspoken communication that goes on in every face-to-face encounter with another human being. It tells you their true feelings towards you and how well your words are being received. 90% of our message is communicated nonverbally, and only 10% is actual words. Nonverbal communication consists of many different devices which come naturally to native speakers, but needs to be taught to language students in order to help them to communicate naturally and avoid misunderstandings.

Stage 2

What is nonverbal communication? What are its components?
Show the following chart as an OHT, but cover the right-hand column. Ask participants how many they can guess from the words (give clues – kinaesthetic, proximity, chronometer). Reveal slowly, leaving time for questions and comments. This could also be done as a matching task.

Kinesics body motions (blushes, shrugs, eye movement)
Proxemics nearness (in relation to people and things)
Haptics touch
Oculesics eye contact
Chronemics use of time
Olfactics smell
Vocalics tone of voice, timbre, volume
Sound Symbols grunts, mmm, er, mumbling
Silence absence of sound (muteness, stillness, secrecy)
Adornment clothing, jewellery etc.
Posture position of the body
Locomotion walking, running
Expression frowns, grimaces, smirks, smiles, pouting

Stage 3

Point out that, as with garmmatical structures, there is a relationship between form and function in nonverbal communication. As with grammar and lexis, one form may have different functions, while one function may be conveyed by a number of forms.
Put up the following chart on an OHT, covering the right-hand column Ask participants what each ‘form’ would mean in their culture. Reveal functions, conclude that functions differ from culture to culture and that the use of nonverbal communication, particularly body language and gestures can either complement meaning or lead to complete misunderstanding.

Form                                             Function

Any Managing identity
Any Defining relationships
Any Conveying attitudes and feelings
Nod (Yes) Agreeing
Head shake Disagreeing, contradicting
Shrug (I don’t know) Showing disinterest
Scratch head, quizzical look Complementing
Tone of voice, pointing Emphasising, clarifying
Hand raised Turn taking
Eye movements Deceiving
Staring/looking down or away Dominating/submitting
Raised fist Showing aggression
Hand-shake Socialising
Touching, kissing Arousal
Over-adornment Boasting

Stage 4

Listening. In pairs, participants take turns speaking to each other (for 30 seconds to 1 minute) without verbal responses, using facial expressions and gestures only.

Stage 5

Focus on gestures. Show the following pictures (from Nolasco and Arthur, Conversation, Activity 37). Ask participants to work in pairs, discuss what each gesture would mean in their culture, what the situation might be, and what the expected reaction would be (discuss as many as time permits).

Stage 6

Show the following six gestures as an OHT (this is better done one-by-one). Ask participants to practise the gestures to each other and see what response they get. This can be done in pairs, or, with a small group, as a mingle activity.
Tell participants what each gesture means in different cultures. Ask them to imagine what inter-cultural misunderstandings might occur.

A B C

D E F

(cartoons drawn by Senem Özkul, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich)

Key:
A
US – everything’s all right, France – zero, worthless, Japan – money, Germany –get lost, Malta, Greece, Brazil – obscene gesture, Turkey – homosexual
B Commonly – stop, enough (person, car, action), Turkey – You get nothing from me, W Africa – You have 5 fathers
C Europe, US – peace, victory UK, Australia – rude gesture, Turkey – two
D Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Holland – obscene, Russia – you get nothing from me, Yugoslavia – nothing, you can’t have it, Brazil – good luck
E Turkey, Italy – you’re crazy, US – use your head, solve the problem
F US – no problem, all OK Australia, Iran – get lost, Nigeria – very offensive gesture, Germany – one, Japan – five, Turkey – hitchhiking, political rightist party

Stage 7

Acting out a short dialogue. Ask participants to ‘read’ the dialogue using gesture, expression and body language only.

Example:
A Excuse me. Can you take a picture of me ?
B Yeah, sure.
A Just press that button.
B Er, which one?
A The one on the top.
B OK, right. Er.... can you move back a bit.
A Is this OK?
B Fine, now smile. That’s it. .Very nice.
A Thanks.
B Not at all. You’ve got a lovely smile. Er... fancy a drink?
A OK, but I’ve got no money on me.
B That’s OK. I’ll pay.

(dialogue from a presentation by Paul Seligson)

Stage 8

Adding drama. Participants work in groups of four (three characters and one responsible for sound effects) to act out a short play including as much body language, gesture and facial expression as possible, noting the stage directions. Give plenty of time to read the script and rehearse.

A SHORT PLAY: Characters – Robert, Kate, John. Robert and Kate are relaxing at home. It’s 11.00p.m.


Speaker


Directions

Lines

Sound effects – 3 knocks on the door

1

Robert


puzzled

Who on earth can that be at this time of night?

2

Kate



I’ll go and see

Sound effects – 3 more knocks on the door

3

Kate


loudly, angrily

All right! Alright! I’m coming!

Sound effects – sound of door opening

4

Kate


angrily, then surprised

There’s no need to knock so....John! What on earth are you...?

5

John


interrupting, loudly

Darling! I couldn’t stand it! I had to come!

6

Kate


urgently

Keep your voice down. Robert’s in there

7

John


quietly

I know. That’s why I’ve....

8

Robert


shouting from a distance

Kate! Who is it?

9

Kate


loudly, hesitating

Oh!....it’s......it’s only John!

10

Robert


sternly

Well don’t keep him out in the cold. Ask him to come in.

11

Kate


whispering

Oh, John.....we can’t

12

Robert


reassuringly

Don’t worry darling. Leave it to me. Everything’s going to be all right.

Sound effects – sounds of a drink being poured and a door opening

13

Robert


friendly

Ah! Hello John! Just in time for a drink.

14

Kate


sharply

He’s not staying.

15

Robert


laughing

Of course he is! Since when has John refused a drink? Whisky all right?

Sound effects – another drink being poured

16

Robert


shocked

Here you are...what! A gun?! What on earth!

17

Kate


shouting

John! Are you mad?!

18

John


very calmly

No Kate, I’m perfectly sane.

19

Robert


anxiously

Now John....come along....put that gun away, eh?

20

Kate


pleadingly

John, please!

21

John


calmly

No Kate. I love you and there’s only one person stopping us being together.

22

Kate


desperately

John! Don’t!

23

John


loudly

I must! Sorry Robert, but you must see that....

24

Robert


hysterically

For God’s sake Kate! Do something!

25

Kate


pleadingly

John! Please! This won’t get us anywhere.

Sound effects – loud gunshot, a scream, a body falling, breaking glass

26

John


calmly

Now there’s no-one between us.

27

Kate


angrily

Oh you fool! You stupid....stupid....stupid fool

Sound effects – loud crying (Kate)

Stage 9

Gestures for the teacher. Remind participants that gestures and use of the hands can save talking time and add clarity, particularly when giving instructions and correcting spoken errors. Most teachers already have a repertoire of gestures, but it is important to star using gestures early on with a class and, as with all classroom language, to teach the learners what they mean.

Ask participants to show what gesture they would use when instructing learners to:

  • Listen
  • Write
  • Open their books
  • Get into groups
  • Work in pairs
  • Continue
  • Past, present or future?

Any others?

Remind participants about ‘finger correction’ technique and the use of facial expression to indicate an error and encourage the learner to self-correct. Ask participants to use their fingers to show:

  • A wrong word
  • A missing word
  • An unnecessary word
  • Wrong word order
  • A contraction

Any others?

Ask participants to think of or write a sentence with one mistake in it, then mingle, saying their sentence to other participants who should try to correct without speaking.

Stage 10

Summary.

Implications for the classroom:

  • Creating classroom atmosphere
  • Improving classroom management
  • Giving feedback/correction
  • Peer correction
  • Learning to listen
  • Reducing fear of silence
  • Reducing unnecessary TTT
  • Increasing student participation
  • Confidence building
  • Effective pair and group work
  • Increasing intercultural competence
  • Avoiding misunderstandings

Major considerations:

  • Communication is 75-90% nonverbal.
  • Nonverbal communication is a transferable but not translatable skill.
  • Culture and gender may be affecting factors.
  • Kinaesthetic learners and teachers may be most adept

Given that nonverbal communication is an important component of natural language and adds so much meaning to spoken language, it seems reasonable that it should be taught. Although there is unlikely to be a nonverbal communication syllabus, the suggestion is that, like phonology, aspects of nonverbal communication should be integrated into both language and skills lessons whenever possible.

Reading

Darn, S. Nonverbal Communication. British Council Teaching English, Sept. 2005 http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/
articles/non-verbal-communication

Darn, S. Aspects of Nonverbal Communication. Internet TESL Journal, February 2005 http://iteslj.org/Articles/Darn-Nonverbal/
Darn, S. and Eryılmaz, D. A Nonverbal Communication Lesson. Developing Teachers,October 2005 http://developingteachers.com/articles_tchtraining/
nonverbal1.htm

Darn, S. and Mumford, S. Integrating Nonverbal Communication into Classroom Activities, Modern English Teacher, 15:1, January 2006
Schmidt-Fajlik, R. Gesture Lesson for English Language Learners. IATEFL Voices, 192, Sept/oct 2006
Nolasco, R. and Arthur, L. Conversation. OUP 1987

Note: This workshop is based on a presentation given at IATEFL Cardiff, April 2005.

first published Winter 2007
http://www.kokusai.aichi-edu.ac.jp/jalttoyohashi/winter2007etedoc.pdf