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#######TOPIC 2: COMMUNICATION IN THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOM: VERBAL AND NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION. EXTRALINGUISTIC STRATEGIES: NON-VERBAL REACTIONS TO MESSAGES
IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS.INTRODUCTIONIn this topic I am going to develop the concept
of communication in the language classroom. I begin by examining two general
objectives of the Foreign Language Area in Primary Education in order to insist on
the relevance of verbal and non-verbal communication. We will explain the changes
in foreign language learning leading to a new view of the pupil as an active
participant. On the other hand, we will try to justify the importance of non-non
verbal communication, commenting on some research into this principle that may be
important when teaching. We will try to prove that we not only speak with words,
and that non-verbal communication can help or make difficult linguistic
communication. In the second part of the topic I will develop very specific
linguistic strategies to master non-verbal reactions to messages in different
contexts.First of all, I would like to point out an important change that has taken
place in the teaching of foreign languages in the past few decades. Traditional
approaches used to treat foreign language teaching and learning as a package of
knowledge that needed to be analysed and observed, as successive series of rules
mostly grammatical - that needed to be learnt before moving on to further sets of
rules. This is, basically, the way foreign languages were learnt in our country for
many years. The Communicative Approach, developed by Robert Langs in the early
1970s, has greatly changed the way foreign languages are learnt and taught. The
communicative method can be summarised as follows:It focuses on language as a
medium of communicationIt recognizes that all communication has a social purpose the learner has something to say or find out. It embraces a whole spectrum of
functions (e.g. seeking information/ apologising/ expressing likes and dislikes,
etc) New syllabuses based on the communicative method offer some communicative
ability from early stages, even at a very early age. In this sense, the Spanish
Syllabus is no exception.Consequently, if our National Syllabus for FL has adopted
the communicative approach, it is quite obvious that the target language, English
in our case, should be the language of communication and interaction in English
class. As a result, this topic must be considered essential since communication is
the basis of understanding among human beings, who use language as the main vehicle
to convey their communicative needs. Therefore, Spanish educational authorities
have introduced the communicative approach throughout the Curriculum for Foreign
Language teaching in Primary Education as the main approach that will guide our
pupils toward a promising communicative competence in English.LANGUAGE AS
COMMUNICATION: PRACTICE AND PRODUCTIONIn order to fully understand what is meant by
the 1st heading of our topic, Language as communication, it is convenient to
distinguish two different levels or stages: the practice level and the
production level. I will explain the difference between the two with a simple
example.A teacher of a class of 7 year-olds asks several of her students How old
are you? In order to practise the English pattern for asking about / expressing
age: How old are you?
I am X years old. The teacher, of course, knows the
age of the pupils in the class, and the pupils also know that the teacher knows
their age. They are all performing at practice level, that is, they are simply
practising how to ask / express age in English. But if suddenly, a member of the
class raises his/her hand and asks the teacher 'How old are you? This is language
being used at a totally different and higher level, i.e. the 'production' level
(the pupil doesn't know the teacher's age, but actually uses the construction
practised at the 'practice' level for a specific purpose, namely that of finding
out the teacher's age.One has to practise language at 'practice' level first in
order to be able to exercise it at 'production' level. Teaching patterns and rules
is only half the work; we need to engage the children in using English for real
communicative purposes. Communication is, therefore, a key word for us as English

teachers.COMMUNICATION IN THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOM: VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL


COMMUNICATIONThe curricular area of modern languages for Primary Education includes
two General Objectives stating that the foreign language has to be taught to be
used orally to communicate with the teacher and with the rest of the classmates in
usual classroom activities and communicative situations created for that purpose,
taking into account the basic rules of interpersonal communication and adopting a
respectful attitude towards the other's views. Students also have to understand and
use the conventions used by the native speakers of the foreign language in everyday
situations in order to make communication easier and more fluent. As shown in these
Objectives, the main purpose of foreign language learning is that pupils can
communicate with each other and with the teacher.COMMUNICATION IN THE FOREIGN
LANGUAGE CLASSROOMCommunication in English class at Primary School level has two
aspects: 1. First, a type of communication that belongs to ordinary everyday
classroom interaction, which includes the use of (a) Routines (b) and also certain
everyday language functions that are commonly used in the classroom, such as
asking permission, saying thank you, excusing oneself, expressing needs, of asking
about the name of something in English. These functions have the corresponding
structures that students need to learn and use: 2. The other type of communication
that is common in English class is topic-based. Most Primary school text books have
units based on topics. The Communicative activities that the students do in class
are normally related to whatever topics are dealt with in the course, normally
through controlled practice of the language. As regards teacher-to-student
interaction, I would insist on the need for us, teachers, to communicate with
students in English, avoiding the use of Spanish as far as possible. A great part
of the listening input that students receive should come from the teacher. This
listening input from the teacher may have different forms. For example,
storytelling. Our instructions to them should also preferably be in English. In
order to help students understand us we often need to use a lot of gesturing and
body language, visual aids such as flashcards, etc. And of course we should adjust
our language level to the students level, using vocabulary that is easier for them
to understand, or using simple structures that they are more familiar with, etc.It
is interesting to note that in the communicative approach the teacher is supposed
to act as initiator or facilitator, prompting students to interact with one
another. As regards student-to-teacher interaction, we should always promote their
use of English when they talk to us. In this sense, we should provide students
with the language for basic functions that are normally used in everyday
interaction. For instance we can stick small posters or notices on the walls
containing some frequent expressions for student-to-teacher interaction. (Examples)
Classroom language for student-teacher interaction needs to become part of the
students active vocabulary so that little by little the students are capable of
instantaneous production when the need arises. Regarding to Student-to-student
interaction normally it places the following forms:
In everyday language
classroom interaction. E.g. one student saying to another: Can I borrow your red
pencil. In pair-work activities in which students practice a structure or the
language for a specific situation.
In small groups of 4 or 5, while paying a
game, for example bingo.In mingle activities in which the school class is
involved and we have students walking around interacting with all their partners.
An example of an activity of this type would be conducting (or doing) a survey, and
completing a chart where they have to reflect all the information they have
gathered.During pair-work and mingle activities, interaction proceeds much more
smoothly if they learn to use expressions like the following:Pair work
Mingle activityOK, Ill ask you first
Can I ask you a questionDo you want to start by asking me?
Go
ahead, ask me
You can ask me first.
Have I asked you yet?Pre-teaching these expressions provides students with an
opening line to break the ice when they sit down with their partner or circulate
around the classroom in a mingle activity. The students level of English
throughout the whole of the Primary Education stage is at the Beginner level. They
do not usually go beyond beginner level, so obviously, their English production is

necessarily limited by lack of vocabulary and structures. Consequently, most of


the students production in both the oral and the written is guided or controlled
production. The language input students receive should be just a little higher
than their actual knowledge. This is what Krashen
calls Input +1. The three PPPsOral lessons are usually divided into three stages,
with different types of interaction. The 3 stages I am referring to are:
presentation, practice and production. I will briefly explain the three stages,
focusing on the type of interaction in each stage: either teacher-students or
student-student.The aim of the presentation stage is to present the meaning and
form of the new language. Our main role in this stage is to act as an informant.
The interaction in this stage is teacher-to-students; therefore, it is a teachercentered stage. The second stage is practice, which can be done in group or in
pairs. Guided oral practice is useful. We must make sure that they have something
to say, and that what they are saying is meaningful to them, and not just
mechanical oral practice. Oral practice should be as extensive as possible, that
is: the more, the better. This type of interaction is, of course, student-centered
and student-to-student interactionAs regards the production stage, our pupils use
the language in freer, more creative ways and check how much they have learned. We
should not interfere too much, so it is important they have clear instructions for
purposeful tasks. At this stage they can do different activities, such as games,
role plays, discussions, etc. The aim in this step is to fully develop our pupils
ability to speak in English. The Production stage is student-centered and the type
of interaction is student-to-student verbal and non-verbal communication.Verbal and
non-verbal communication in the FL classroomAs regards verbal and non-verbal
communication in the context of language learning - teaching, we must point out
that acquisition of verbal skills has set the standard, whereas non-verbal
communication skills have been largely overlooked. On the other hand, non-verbal
skills are relatively easy to teach because students use them when communicating in
their own native language, although they do it unconsciously. So our aim as English
teachers is to help students use those skills when they are communicating in
English. I would also like to stress the fact that the terms verbal and oral
should not be confused. Verbal communication means communication through words, and
these words may be spoken or written. A verbal translation, for example, is a
translation made word for word. The term oral, on the other hand, excludes the
written form of language. I will now focus on non verbal communication.Messages are
sometimes communicated by non verbal signals. The following are typical contextual
non verbal elements:Body movements including gestures, movements of the body,
limbs, hands, head, feet, facial expressions (smiling), eye behaviour such as
blinking, direction of sight and also posture.Physical characteristics include
physical appearance, general attraction, body scents, height, hair, skin tone
(these characteristics are constant).Paralanguage: refers to how something is said
and not what is said. It uses the non verbal vocal signs surrounding speech (tone,
qualities of the voice, rhythm).Proxemics: the use and perception of social and
personal space. The individual determines his own space based on social and
personal rules.Tactile conduct: kissing, hitting, guiding, etc.Artifacts: include
the manipulation of objects, which can act as non-verbal stimuli, with interacting
persons. These artifacts can be: perfume, clothing, lipstick ...Surrounding
factors: this category includes those elements that intervene in human relations
which are not a direct part of it: furniture, interior decoration.The purpose of
non verbal communication is:To communicate emotionsTo regulate
communication/conventions.To interpret.To identify social status, etc.The cultural
specificness of these elements should be highlighted (Spanish and English gestures,
for instance, are different).Meaningful language includes knowledge of these
aspects for true communication.On the other hand, the importance of drama, mime,
action songs, role-plays, simulation of real life situations to include as many
non-verbal elements as possible cannot be underestimated.EXTRALINGUISTIC
STRATEGIES: NON VERBAL REACTIONS TO MESSAGES IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTSIn this part of
the topic we will see how the use of extralinguistic elements is li