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A Nonverbal Communication Lesson
by
Steve Darn
- 1

Nonverbal communication has been a focus of attention for some time in areas such as business presentation skills and personal social skills. However it has received little attention, in language teaching as a complement to spoken language, though recent trends in neuro linguistic programming regarding mirroring and parallel body language have filtered into current research and practice. Nonverbal communication is a system consisting of a range of features often used together to aid expression, ranging from gesture and facial expression, through tone of voice and the use of space, to dress and posture. The combination of these features is often a subconscious choice made by native speakers, but for the learner, can be a barrier to natural communication and the cause of misunderstanding. On the grounds that ‘it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it’, there is much to be said for teaching nonverbal communication either parallel to, or integrated with, a language and skills based syllabus, in the same way that phonology is often treated. Like grammatical structures, nonverbal communication has form, function and meaning, all of which may vary from language to language. Relatively few techniques have been suggested for teaching nonverbal communication, though the use of mime and other drama-based activities and watching video clips without sound raise awareness of gesture and expression.

A Nonverbal Communication Lesson

This lesson was delivered by a trainee teacher as part of teaching practice on a recent CELTA course at the Izmir University of Economics, Izmir, Turkey. The lesson was planned by the trainee, with advice and some materials provided by the course tutor.

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