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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 15th, 2008, 05:12 am
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Default Which is more imporant, spoken language or nonverbal communication?

On a whim of crazy and insane ideas, I walked into one of my elementary school classrooms and proceeded to teach half of a class using gestures and other forms of nonverbal communication, not opening my mouth one time. I wanted to show the kids that 'communication' was much more important than knowing the actual language.

What do you think? Pitted against each other, which would win out, SL or NC?
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Unread Feb 15th, 2008, 09:49 am
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Default Re: Which is more imporant, spoken language or nonverbal communication?

In real life, non-verbal always wins. In the classroom I have to revert to it often. The hour and fifty minutes that I get with a class is crucial time for me though. Getting 16 or 20 people to actually produce spoken English in that time is a challenge and then giving each an opportunity to get enough 'reps' in to feel confident is my primary goal.

Your question is a good one though as students often want to use body language to communicate. In my life in Vietnam I often have to use it, but it really shows me how important it is to actually have the words to say what I want to say. Spoken words are much more specific and, in my opinion, body language can be vague.
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Unread Feb 18th, 2008, 08:39 pm
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Default Re: Which is more imporant, spoken language or nonverbal communication?

It sounds like an interesting experiment, and one that would highlight to a class which refuses to (or half-heartedly) uses body language. Yet neither speaking nor body language is mutually exclusive of the other, I think. In conversation classes, it's always important to incorporate gestures, facial expressions, and changes in pitch and intonation to convey meaning. Obviously these are later steps in a lesson, but they can appear in a dialogue or role play to prevent students from reading like robots. Over time, and with progress through ability levels, my students' body language has become much more fluid and realistic.
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Unread Feb 21st, 2008, 05:56 pm
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Default Re: Which is more imporant, spoken language or nonverbal communication?

What a fun exercise!

The non-verbal elements can also undercut, override, and transcend any spoken words. Just look at the Reuters daily photographs which regularly capture poignant images of public figures - and often contradict their words.

Linking this question to our classroom practices, I've found that university students are often more surprised by how they look than how they sound when they view videotapes of their presentations. We are probably far more aware of the words we speak than the gestures we make. Students often write quite a bit on both self-evaluation and peer-evaluation forms about gestures, indicating a greater confidence to judge non-verbal communication by both ESL students and native speakers in communication courses.

Words, of course, still matter and provide far more sophisticated information and nuanced detail. Gestures convey moods, not reasons or insights.
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