Motivation in the ClassroomThis research article is about the effect of non-verbal communication on motivation in the ESL classroom. This paper will attempt to demonstrate that non-verbal communication in the classroom enhances learning for English learners by conveying clear and distinct messages to students
which aid in their comprehension by allowing students
to transfer concepts and ideas in English to those of their native language. The process in which this occurs allows lowering the barriers of language and allowing students
to comprehend the material by associating words and actions in English with words and actions in their own language. students
become motivated by non-verbal communication by being able to associate a foreign language with their own (familiarity), while simultaneously being able to build rapport and having interaction with the instructor through non-verbal means.
What is non-verbal communication?
Non-verbal communication can range from actions, hand gestures, body postures, and tone of voice, to more subtle eye contact, facial expression, and spatial distance between individuals. Very often a variation of non-verbal communication will accompany oral speech (Nagi, 101). It is very difficult to subconsciously convey ideas without showing any non-verbal communication in body pose, eye contact, or hand movement. For students
of English as a foreign language, the use of non-verbal communication is important for being able to associate concepts and ideas into a form that they can comprehend, especially if the instructor does not speak their own language.
How does non-verbal communication aid comprehension?
For many cultures, many ideas and concepts expressed in non-verbal form are universal (Nagi, 103). The concept of ?pain? can be distinguished in any culture by a grimace of the face and a subconscious want to hold the injured part close. Because concepts in this form are universal, English teachers are able to bridge the comprehension gap of language by introducing non-verbal communication to their repertoire of teaching tools.
While an instructor teaches in their own language, chances are the students
do not understand them through spoken word alone (Nagi, 103). But if the instructor incorporates the subtle nuances of non-verbal communication while they speak, students
will be able to understand better through those universal cues. Perhaps an instructor could be explaining the enormous nature of something by having their arms stretched out wide or expressing indigestion by rubbing his stomach with a groan. The point being that the students
understand the concepts being taught because they are able to take the English word, associate it with a universal action, and then take that same association with a word in their own language (Negi, 107).
How does this affect motivation?
While non-verbal communication can aid in instruction through association, the primary use of non-verbal communication rests in how the lesson is being taught by the teacher. students
recognize subtle non-verbal cues such as the distance the teacher stands from the students
, the amount and duration
of eye contact with students
, and even the tone and speech pattern of the teacher (even if they do not necessarily understand what he is saying). Having a welcoming and enthusiastic demeanor has a ?profound effect on your students
? feelings of welcome and comfort with you. (Stevick, 1982)? The more students
become comfortable with the teacher, the more they share in the same enthusiasm for the subject, and likewise are motivated to do well. Their motivation can come from a variety of reasons from seeing the use of English by being able to associate the language with words from their own language, to feeling personally attached to the instructor and wanting to do well to impress them.
Non-verbal communication is comprised of many subtle subconscious actions that display a universal form of communication. When exaggerated by a teacher they can help aid comprehension by associating an English word with a universal actions, which in turn is associated with a word known to the student
. The importance of non-verbal communication in creating motivation lies more in its subconscious attributes to foster a welcoming environment that encourages students
to ask questions and share in the enthusiasm of the instructor.
Negi, J. S. (2009). The Role of Teachers? non-verbal Communication in ELT Classroom. Journal of NELTA, 14(1-2), 101-110.
Stevick, E.W. (1982). Teaching and learning languages. Cambridge: CUP.