The Impact of Nonverbal and Body Language Communication in the Classroom
In my experience as a learner and now a teacher it has become obvious that nonverbal actions play an essential role in the foreign language classroom. I believe that nonverbal communication between the teacher and their students is clearly a very useful tool for classroom management and for creating an effective classroom environment. The main aspects of nonverbal communication I have witnessed as a learner and now use myself as an EFL teacher include: eye contact, gestures and mime, facial expressions and voice projection.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Paolo C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Eye contact in the classroom is fundamental. It helps the teacher to be closer to the students, to understand them and to make them feel involved in what’s going on in the classroom. Also, it helps to hold their attention and to show them that they are an important part of the lesson. Eye contact can also be a powerful tool to establish good rapport with the learners, because a teacher using eye contact will appear present and in tune with the needs of the students. Through eye contact, a good teacher can understand subtle emotive reactions and tell if a student is confused or needs assistance for any reason. However, eye contact should be avoided during student-centered activities, where the teacher should focus more on monitoring.
Gestures and Mime
A teacher should make good use of gestures and mime. They can be used in many different situations and, in particular, can help to manage the class, increase or decrease the pace of the lesson and reduce teacher talk time (TTT). In general, students focus not only on what a teacher is saying, but also on what a teacher is doing, and that’s why a good teacher should be aware of the power and the importance of body language. Gestures can add visual interest to the lesson and are also useful for getting the students’ attention and when organizing activities. Gestures should always be clear and easy to understand, and a teacher should consider the cultural background of the students to avoid embarrassing situations. Gestures are very important when teaching a foreign language and can be used in order to create a warm and positive atmosphere in the learning environment.
Humans can show a wide range of feelings and emotions through facial expressions. Teachers should keep in mind that their mood can deeply influence the students’ feelings in a positive or negative way and that facial expressions can be an effective way to create a motivating environment in the classroom. For instance, a warm smile can make the students feel more comfortable, keen to participate actively in the lesson and create a positive atmosphere. Moreover, the teacher can use facial expressions to show interest in what a student is saying and to be encouraging.
Also read: 5 Simple Ways to Motivate Your EFL Students
Volume, Tone and Speed of Voice
Voice is an important tool that a teacher can use to be effective in classroom management. The teacher should use a clear voice and should be able to adapt their voice to different situations and circumstances, such as big or small classrooms, large or small groups, different age groups, and different types of activity. A clear voice can help the students to understand instructions and explanations clearly. Similarly, changing the tone and the volume of the voice can also help the teacher in many ways. For example, to keep the attention of the students, to create a relaxed atmosphere or to give simple and effective instructions about different activities.
Are you ready to use body language while teaching English abroad?
Body language and nonverbal communication are important factors in classroom management and are skills that a good teacher should cherish and focus on. Nonverbal communication can help the teacher to promote a positive learning atmosphere, maintain discipline, be humorous, be encouraging and motivating, decrease unnecessary teacher talk time, arouse learners’ participation, build confidence, give clear instructions, manage the classroom efficiently and establish rapport.
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