Manifestations of Nonverbal Cues in the Japanese EFL Classroom

| August 14, 2012
Manifestations of Nonverbal Cues in the Japanese EFL Classroom

Keywords: Nonverbal communication, Gesture, Cross-cultural communication,
Japanese EFL learners

Andrew Nowlan
Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan

Bio Data
Andrew Nowlan is a language instructor at Kwansei Gakuin University in
Nishinomiya, Japan. He has experience teaching English in South Korea, Taiwan, and
Japan. Originally from Halifax, Canada, Andrew has done extensive world travel and
is interested in the application of intercultural communication and awareness in theclassroom.

While most EFL programs encourage communicative teaching practices focusing on
the spoken word, there are few resources that suggest ways to implement nonverbal
content. Congruent nonverbal communication, particularly gestures, can help an EFL
student convey meaning when attempting to use the L2. While there is disagreement
on what percentage of message meaning is nonverbal, one cannot ignore the
importance of appropriate nonverbal cues when communicating in any language.
Furthermore, nonverbal communication can vary greatly in different regions of the
world, and in certain cases, meaning of a nonverbal cue can have opposite meaning in
two different places. Considering this, it becomes the responsibility of the EFL
instructor to become aware of the nonverbal communication being taught and used,
both explicitly and implicitly, in the classroom. If the instructor is able to increase
student awareness of nonverbal communication across cultures, graduates from a
language program will be better prepared when applying and interpreting language
domestically and abroad. This paper will first present gesture unique to Japanese
society while identifying those that are often observed in the EFL classroom. Next,
the role of gesture and nonverbal communication in the L2 learning process will be
considered before suggesting classroom implications and possible methods to
introduce nonverbal communication to EFL students.

[private] See page: 60-69

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Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 62