Do you like to use body language in teaching English or any other second languages? In this article, you will learn why it is recommended to use body language and nonverbal communication while teaching second or foreign languages.
Author: Dr. Mohammad Hossein Hariri Asl
Table of Contents / فهرست مطالب
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Body language in teaching English
The more skillful you get at discerning the feelings behind your students’ signals, the better you can control the signals you send. That’s why the use of body language in second language teaching is actually of crucial importance. However, in order to shed more light on the implication of body language, let us now offer a succinct and at the same time comprehensive definition of body language in association with second language teaching.
What is body language?
Body language, with regard to this particular field of study, is referred to the use of facial expressions, body movements, nonverbal communication through giving signals by changing the position of your body, etc. that are fundamentally intended to expand communication or interaction from one person to another.
As a matter of fact, in response to second language teaching, body language is considered to be a reliable and indispensable supplement to verbal communication, particularly when your students are at elementary levels. In fact, at elementary levels, the teacher is supposed to be more directive inasmuch as the fact that the students, at this level of proficiency, have not been exposed to the target language sufficiently.
Therefore, verbal communication cannot be the ultimate and decisive way of interaction, i.e. a nonverbal manifestation of language teaching seems to be rudimentary as long as teaching elementary and/or beginning students is concerned.
Let your students hear your body language
Be conscious of your body language. How you hold your body or posture affects how others see you and how you feel too. If you move with purpose, energy and confidence, you will internalize these qualities in your students, as well.
In this response, the importance of eye-contact is completely elucidated. Sometimes, the only way to convey some messages is through the use of eye-contact. You, as an English teacher, should bear in mind that during a conversation, holding your gaze is needed to convey good intent. Intense staring occurs at the height of both intimacy and aggression. On the other hand, too short a gaze implies disinterest.
Regarding this issue from another perspective, it becomes clear that a second language teacher should serve as a perfect model whom his students strive to emulate. Consequently, this person, who exerts considerable influence upon his students, should engender confidence, self-respect and energy in his students. A very good technique to generate these feelings in the students is to “walk tall”, i.e. the teacher walks, moves and behaves energetically, confidently, positively and vigorously.
There is another point here to be taken into consideration and that is the physical appearance of the teacher. As a matter of fact, a second language teacher is expected to be elegant, chic and physically attractive to be able to draw the attention of his students because there seems to be a strong positive correlation between the students’ extrinsic motivation in second language learning and the teacher’s physical appearance in second language teaching.
Some guidelines on using body language in teaching English
- Dress appropriately, considering the expectations of your students and the culture in which you are teaching.
- Move around the classroom. Do not plant your feet firmly in one place for the whole hour.
- Provide all of your students with frequent and meaningful eye-contact.
- Let your body posture exhibit a sense of confidence in the classroom.
- Your face should reflect optimism, brightness and warmth.
- Use facial and hand gestures to enhance meanings of words and sentences that might otherwise be unclear.
Regarding the points discussed in this article, the significance of the use of body language in teaching English and other languages is thoroughly understood. Researchers and psychologists believe that about 90% of our emotional communication is nonverbal. So you should never ever overlook the significance of body language vis-à-vis second language teaching because you should always keep in mind that the eyes of men converse as much as their tongues.
How to cite this article in APA Style?
Hariri Asl, M. H. (2023). Body language in teaching English with best practices. LELB Society, https://lelb.net/body-language-in-teaching-english/