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Helpful Tips On Introducing Learning Of Body Language In The ELT Classroom

Posted on 3rd May 2023

Did you know that during communication our body language plays a more major role compared to verbal communication?

According to Albert Mehrabian, the body language researcher, communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal or tonality, and 7% of words only.

If body language is that important then why not as a TEFL Teacher why not introduce the learning of Body language in the ELT Classroom?

One of the key things every TEFL teacher should want that their students to learn how to communicate both verbally and non-verbally effectively. This will enable them to be able to communicate their ideas and feelings effectively.

Mostly, TEFL teachers while they’re teaching English abroad often focus exclusively on verbal communication and forget about the importance of non-verbal communication, or body language. Body language is a large part of communication, and it is an important skill for our students to develop.

In this blog post, we will look at several tips for helping students to develop their body language in the ELT classroom. So without any waiting further, let’s get in straight to the topic.

1. Get students to work in pairs to practice what they have learned

Getting students to work in pairs or small groups is an effective way to help them develop their body language in the ELT classroom. When students are in pairs or small groups, they get the opportunity to practice the language they have learned in the context of a conversation. It is much easier for them to experiment with different body languages when they are in a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment like this.

2. Use technology to enhance learning

Technology is a great way for teachers to enhance learning in the ELT classroom and help students to develop their body language. Using technology as a learning aid can provide students with more opportunities to practice their body language and have fun in the process.

For example, teachers can use interactive boards and websites to get students to do an ELT live role-play in the classroom. During this role–play, the students can practice their body language while they converse with each other using computer avatars.

3. Incorporate real-life materials into the lesson

Real-life materials and props are powerful tools that help teachers to motivate students, facilitate understanding, and model appropriate body language. Real-life material inclusion while learning how to use Body language in the ELT Classroom is a great way. Materials like costumes, props, and photographs help bring the language to life, inspire language production, and get students to use their bodies to demonstrate understanding.

For instance, teachers can bring in props related to their lesson topics, or use photographs, or illustrations found in students’ textbooks or from other sources to create a physical context for the language.

By giving students something tangible they can touch and move and that they can also actually use to physically act out and depict the language being learned, teachers can add more life to their lessons and can ensure that the body language being used by their students is appropriate and effective.

4. Encourage out-of-class communication

The importance of body language can extend beyond the classroom and doing activities inside the classroom. In order to truly develop body language skills, students must go out of their comfort zone and take their communication skills into the real world. Encourage students to use the language outside the classroom with authentic materials and in real-world scenarios.

Here are some ideas:

- Set up an intercultural communication event where different language groups can come together and interact.

- Organize a cultural exchange day, where partners swap cultural information.

- Have students create a presentation in front of local businesses or schools.

- Give students opportunities to job shadow in a native speaking environment.

- Create a cultural field trip in which students can visit a place of cultural interest.

- Have students teach English to native speakers in the community.

- Allow students to participate in conversations with native speakers.

- Set up roleplays where students can act out different scenarios in different languages.

By encouraging out-of-class communication, the teacher will give students the opportunity to experiment with struggling with the use of body language necessary for appropriate communication.

6. Give Proper Feedback

While teaching English abroad it is very essential to notice the progress of students and give them time-to-time feedback. This allows the teacher to provide the necessary feedback to help students improve and better understand their body language.

Here are some tips for evaluating and giving feedback on students’ body language:

- When students are engaging in activities involving body language, watch and note how they are using it to express meaning.

- Give individual or group feedback after talking or activities involving body language.

- Provide verbal feedback as well as body language feedback.

By evaluating and giving proper feedback on student’s body language in the ELT classroom, teachers can prepare them to become better at overall communication skills.

7. Recognize Their Efforts

Recognizing and rewarding student's effort while they are learning to use body language in the ELT classroom boosts their overall morale. When a student uses body language in a way that is positive and constructive, provides them with recognition.

Here are some tips for recognizing positive body language behaviour:

- Verbally acknowledge the student when they are using body language correctly.

- Point out specifically what the student did correctly.

- Provide rewards such as verbal praise, stickers, or positive notes home to the students parents.

- Compliment the student on their understanding of body language in English.

- Ask the student to explain their body language technique to other students.

- Give the student a chance to demonstrate the proper body language techniques to the whole class.

- Encourage the student to continue using the correct body language in future ELT activities.

By rewarding and recognizing positive body language behaviour in the ELT classroom, the students will be encouraged to keep using correct body language and become better communicators.

8. Be a good role model

Be a good role model and demonstrate appropriate body language in the ELT classroom. Students often model themselves to their teachers, so by setting a good example, the students will naturally learn to imitate and use body language correctly.

Here are some tips to become a good role model in the ELT classroom:

- Demonstrate the body language you wish your students to use.

- Display facial expressions that match the activity being done in the classroom.

- Show the students appropriate body language in different topper cus situations.

- Be aware of your non-verbal cues and be conscious of how they can affect the atmosphere in the classroom.

- Refrain from using language and body language that are disrespectful.

- Encourage and positively reinforce correct body language behaviour.

- Face the whole class when speaking.

- Smile, nod, and be an overall positive role model.

By being a supportive and encouraging role model, you can help your students learn the appropriate body language for English communication and help them become more confident speakers and communicators

9. Encourage self-reflection

Encourage self-reflection—helping students understand their own body language can help them become more aware of how they appear to others. Invite them to assess their own body language in order to identify any areas they need to work on. Encourage discussion and brainstorming ideas on how they can improve their body language skills.

Moreover, self-reflection is a skill that can be applied outside of the ELT classroom. Helping the students understand how their body language can affect communication in different settings, will help them tackle the world with confidence.

Introduce learning of Body language in the ELT Classroom:

While teaching abroad, most of the TEFL teachers focus on teaching language verbally rather than teaching how to use Body language in the ELT classroom, which is more important to learn. However, you can use our helpful tips on how you can teach Body language in the ELT classroom successfully. Introducing this topic and making your students use their body language effectively will make them better communicators in the future.

Written By : Abhishek

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