Non-verbal communication: Why we need it in foreign language teaching and how we can foster it with drama activities

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Surkamp, Carola
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Department of German, University College Cork
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Even though non-verbal communication is an essential part of communicative situations, it still is a neglected issue in foreign language teaching. This is quite surprising as no language learner can achieve communicative competence without having some knowledge of non-verbal phenomena, which make communication authentic and serve numerous functions needed for communicative success.Teaching a combination of verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication has positive effects on the language learning process in general and on the students’ willingness to communicate in particular. Furthermore, it is important for language learners to become aware of the role non-verbal communication plays in intercultural encounters. Additionally, the knowledge and awareness of the functions of non-verbal communication also help to develop literary competence since non-verbal phenomena contribute to a text’s meaning and its effect on the reader in both drama and prose.The objectives of this paper are to outline the nature and functions of non-verbal communication, to show why integrating non-verbal phenomena into different areas of FLT can be highly valuable, and to present drama activities that help sensitise students to non-verbal aspects of communication in various contexts.
Surkamp, C. (2014) 'Non-verbal communication: Why we need it in foreign language teaching and how we can foster it with drama activities', Scenario: A Journal of Performative Teaching, Learning, Research, VIII(2), pp. 28-43.