Topic 2A – Communication in the foreign language classroom: Verbal and nonverbal communication. Extra-linguistic strategies: non verbal reactions to messages in different contexts.

Topic 2A – Communication in the foreign language classroom: Verbal and nonverbal communication. Extra-linguistic strategies: non verbal reactions to messages in different contexts.

Communication in the language lesson. Linguistic and non-linguistic communication


Communication abilities at a very early stage are one of the primary aims of foreign language teaching.

Modern approaches to communication do not include only linguistic production but gesture, behaviour, mime and other aspects occurring in first language communication.

The communicative use of the visual and tactile modes in their non-linguistic aspects is referred as “non-verbal” communication or “body language”.

Communication means to say something to someone with a communicative purpose and in an appropriate way.


The main aims in language teaching are:

· Using oral and writing language in classroom actions.

· Using idioms and sentences (congratulations, greetings,…)

· Using extralinguistic strategies (gesture, body language,…)

And these are the contents:

· Conceptual (linguistic): identifying, greeting, describing, asking, expressing needs and emotions, quantify, object location, requesting, denying, offering,…

· Procedures (non-linguistic): acting, doing what they are commanded (total Physical Response)

· Socio-cultural: knowing games, sports and traditional songs in that language.

Communication goals:

The learner gets a social and linguistic development:

· Gets an internal linguistic consciousness

· Takes part in a social interaction

· Gets a cultural knowledge of that society and their habits, and also a way to science, technology and international relations

· Gets practice in everyday activities

Learners can understand much more that they can speak, so current language ca be used in the classroom.


There is almost an unlimited range of activities within the communicative approach (information sharing, negotiation of meaning and interaction)

Most communicative techniques operate by providing information and holding it from the others, creating an information gap.

Every communicative activity has these characteristics:

· A desire to communicate

· A communicative form

· A variety of contents and language

The teacher’s role must be to facilitate the communication process and be involved as a participant within the group, analysing needs, counselling, managing the process and organising resources.

Learners must interact within the group. Successful communication can only be achieved through group interaction.


The communicative event is not based on the verbal component only. It also implies paralinguistic devices such as gesture, facial expression, body language, sight. They are information and emotional sources.

These non-verbal acts are culturally related. Different cultures may use different gestures (hand using, head movement, …e.g.: nodding in Hungary is opposite to everywhere else)

There is also the silent language like the physical distance maintained between individuals, the sense of time appropriate for communication under different conditions… The sight directs very well communication. If we do not like someone we put our eyes away, insecurity makes eyes go down or if we are very interested our eyes are widely open to make the speaker go on.


The most common strategies of language learning are:

· Learning grammar rules and using them

· Imitating linguistic habits

· Learning vocabulary and structures by heart

· Finding out strategies, making hypotheses, contrasting them and getting the knowledge

Non verbal reactions to messages in different contexts:

· Games: guessing games, drawing games,…

· Drama: acting, miming, …

· Role play: using sentences as a native speaker, which is funny and vividly remembered.

· Total Physical Response: is a teaching method built around the co-ordination of speech and action. It attempts to teach language through physical activity.

The more intensively a memory connection is traced the stronger the memory association will be and the more likely it will be recalled.

It makes second language learning a process like first language acquisition. Comprehension abilities precede productive skills but they transfer from one to others.

The speech directed to children consists mainly of commands. Most of the grammatical structures of the target language and hundreds of lexical items can be learned from the skilful use of the imperative.

The lower the stress is the greater the learning is. Successful learning normally occurs in stress controlled classrooms, in pleasurable experiences and low anxiety situations.

Grammatical features and lexical items are selected according to the classroom situations and the ease they can be learnt. Total Physical Response is uses after language presentation and practice in order to consolidate structures and vocabulary.

The teacher is the director of the stage play and pupils are the actors. The teacher decides what to teach, how to present the new material, how to select materials.

Correction should be used only when our pupils will really benefit from it. in the beginning the learner cannot attempt efficiently to the corrections because all attention is directed to producing utterances.

Learners listen attentively and respond physically to our commands. Teachers monitor and encourage to speak when learners fell ready to speak.


· Warming up or introductory review

· Introduction of new language, new commands and new items

· Simple questions which can be answered with a gesture such as pointing

· Pupils utter commands. Manipulating teacher and pupils’ behaviour.

· Reading and writing activities (blackboard, notebooks, …). Writing, reading and acting out the sentence.

It is very suitable for our primary lessons. It is only valid for beginners. When our pupils’ knowledge is very limited we do not expect them to talk: they have to watch, listen and act.

Our main objective is to provide children as much understable listening as we can while they are doing an enjoyable activity.

The use of gesture allows them to talk when they cannot speak. Commands can be responded by physical actions (e.g.: point).