Non-Verbal Communication
Whether you intend it or not, your non-verbal communication, or "body language", will be interpreted as showing your feelings, intentions, self-confidence, and attitudes.  Your mannerisms will affect, positively or negatively, the impressions and attitudes people form about you.  At the same time, your ability to interpret what Americans mean by different types of body language will enhance your ability to participate in and understand conversation.  Though you may already have some idea how Americans will interpret these behaviors or what they will expect from you, it is important to learn more about non-verbal communication as well as how to evaluate your own behavior.  Begin by reflecting on the following statements.
Read through these statements, think about them, and send your thoughts to me.

Because non-verbal communication has several different aspects to consider, for this investigation you will divide them up and each group will investigate only one.

Different Parts of Non-Verbal Communication

1.  Predict:  These types of behaviors you see everyday, whether you actually talk to people or not.         What have you already noticed about the behavior you are studying?  What do you still not understand? (this may be a good place to start.)
2.  Plan:  Again, these types of behaviors will be especially easy to observe from a distance.  Remember, how native speakers interpret them an important part of your investigation.  You may want to use interviews for this.
3.  Collect Data:  When collecting data, keep in mind the fact that different native speakers may vary in both their use and interpretation of these behaviors. (However, they may not.)  Are you getting information about variation among native speakers in your data?
4.  Analyze:  Can you categorize the different behaviors and interpretations in your data?  Does this show a pattern?
5.  Reformulate:  Is what you found what you expected?  Does it give you a better idea how to act in face-to-face conversation?  Does it help you interpret the behavior of native speakers?


Because each group looked at a different aspect of non-verbal communication, it is important that you report on what you found and share your insights.  At the end of this unit, be prepared to give a short presentation.  You need to tell us about what you did in each step of the investigation, especially the last.  We want you to tell us and show us both what you observed and how you think we can use this information to improve our conversational skills.

Additional Reading
Take a look at the following sites.  They're interesting, and you may get a good idea for your investigation.  Remember, you never know where a good idea will come from.  
back to main page