Communication is sharing of information and meaning (Hassan, 2007) and that meaning dictates the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Students — and other people, in general — often interpret the oral information or message according to the non-verbal expression that accompanies it. A verbal approval said in an ironic tone can send an opposite impression of censure. Non-verbal communication should, therefore, be given serious consideration, especially in a second-language school setting (Hassan).
Findings of the study categorized non-verbal communication into 8 (Hassan, 2007). Kinesics consists of boy language and gestures, such as a happy mood, negative body expressions, kind and friendly look, nodding to encourage, exhaustion, and raised fingers, which embarrassed. Proxemics refers to the space between the teacher and the students. The closer they were, the greater the students’ understanding of the lecture. Students disliked distance. Vocalics covers the pitch, tone, rhythm and volume of the teacher’s voice. Students learn more if there is variation in these and tend to get bored with a monotonous tone. Chronemics refers to the teacher’s behavior towards time. If she comes to class irregularly, the students tend to take classes casually. If she keeps looking at her wrist watch, she sends the message that she is running out of time or on overtime. Oculesics means eye-to-eye contact. A cold stare embarrasses students. They like eye-to-eye contact with the teacher, but they look away when they do not know the answer. Locomotion refers to the teacher’s movement. Students become active when she moves and lazy when she simply stands still. Adornment consists of the teachers dressing, sex, age and smartness in looks. If she has an attractive personality or smart-looking, her lecture is often successfully conveyed. Gender and age are also important factors in successful teaching. Silence, haptics, facial and other physical expressions consist of touches, smiles, hand-shaking and patting, an interactive class, a well-furnished classroom and a vivacious teacher facilitate her message transmission (Hassan).
Non-verbal communication is, in truth, the most important factor or input to classroom (Hassan, 2007). Students observe the teacher’s body language in the smallest detail and its subjective implications. This determines the success or failure of her goal to impart a message. Non-verbal communication should complement or at least not contradict verbal information or message. If it does, the students get the greatest benefit. If not, the students get confused and the message lost. And because the teacher is a role model of her language, the students can only copy what she transfers through body language. This is what makes nonverbal communication more important, whether in the classroom or the outside world, especially where second-language teaching and learning occur (Hassan).
As previous studies found, non-verbal communication is a major part of communication and human interaction (Hassan, 2007). Teachers, for example, speak outwardly but actually communicate with their whole body (Abercrombie 1968 as qtd in Hassan). Non-verbal communication is also natural, reliable and spontaneous. It, thus, cannot conceal and conveys the message effectively when emotion accompanies it. That emotion determines whether students will be motivated, bored or depressed. It is part of communicative competence. Experts say that the teacher’s body language is, in fact, “the most important thing in class (Stevick, 1982 as qtd in Hassan). How she uses her eyes, the distance between her and the class, her touching or not touching items create and transmit powerful influence to her message or lecture. Her non-verbal behavior indicates the teacher’s psychological state, which should not be taken lightly (Hassan).
Furthermore, students are not only conscious of the teacher’s non-verbal communication but are also critical of it (Hassan, 2007). They retain and remember only the lectures given by the teacher they like. The like or dislike they feel constitutes an important part in learning a second language. Students who are highly motivated, possess strong self-confidence, a good self-image and low level of anxiety tend to learn the second language better. Non-verbal communication is also a language of relationship. If that relationship is pleasant, then the students are motivated to learn. Physical closeness, intimacy, concern, expressions of approval and other positive cues accrue to a pleasant relationship between the teacher and her students. The reverse is true of negative expressions. A teacher’s behavior, thus, creates the environment conducive to learning itself. It not only influences students’ moods, the amount of learning. It also determines their perceptions and attitudes beyond school and into their respective lives (Hassan).#
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