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    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

    Plan of the lesson

TITLE: The European Union and its Symbols: Cultural


    Level : B1;

    Activity Language: English

     L1 ; L2

    Author : European Team of EU Project “IDEA”

    Timing Preparation/ Procedure

    /skills Material

     1) 90 per

    topic. By working with Internet material, the

    students will be strongly motivated, since they ; Computers, so that Speaking

    students can surf the will be amazed at the vast number of websites and

    Net. Reading: devoted to this subject.

    ; Sheets with the five “The questions, without the

    Gestures answers. TOPIC 1: CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN Quiz and ; A board, in order to COMMUNICATION, ESPECIALLY NONVERBAL Body write the seven ideas Language” ONE.- students have to bear

    in mind for analysis.

     Step 1

     To break the ice, you can start the lesson by

     telling them that you’re going to test their

     knowledge of this matter with a few questions

     from the Internet “Gestures Around the World



     estus.html), so that you can build awareness

     among your students. Allow the necessary

     time for discussion. The lines in bold are the

     right answers, but you won’t tell them until

     the very end.

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

1) You’re late for your appointment with your

    German boss. Then you call him by his first

    name and move your chair closer to his desk.

    Which of the following might placate him?

    a) Ask him about his family.

    b) Stick your hands in your pocket.

    c) Apologize for being late and get right

    down to the business.

2) In Japan, tapping one’s finger repeatedly on

    the table means agreement and support of a

    speaker’s statement:

    a) True.

    b) False.

This type of mini-applause was reportedly

    started in one of the courts by the Japanese


3) People from different countries point with

    various parts of their bodies such as their

    chins, thumbs or palms. An Englishman will

    generally indicate something with his head:

    a) True.

    b) False.

A proper British would never point at anything

    with a digit.

4) A British professor was a guest lecturer at a

    university in an Islamic country. During his

    address, he unthinkingly insulted the audience

    by displaying a part of his body. What did he

    show the audience that was so offensive?

    a) His teeth.

    b) His left hand.

    c) The sole of his foot.

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

The professor’s failure to respect Muslim

    decorum resulted in a student protest and

    newspaper headlines denouncing British


5) In Hawaii, a common gesture for greetings

    is called “shaka” and is done by:

    a) Shaking two clasped hands in the air.

    b) Nodding your hair rapidly up and down.

    c) Folding down your three fingers to

    the palm, extending your thumb

    and pinkie holding out your hand

    and shaking it.

The “shaka”, while not easy for “mainlanders”

    to do at first, is so popular that it became a

    trademark of a former Hawaii governor.

Step 2

This first exercise can lead students to an

    open discussion about what should or

    shouldn’t be done, as well as the exchange of

    views based on their own experiences.


     Ask them to log on in order to browse

    websites related to this field. Students will

    even be surprised when they find out that

    videos focusing on international differences in

    gestures and cultural differences in nonverbal

    communication are available on the Net, for


    (A World of Gestures).


    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA


Step 1

If you have been talking about the world of

    work for some days, perhaps it’s time for you

    to stress the importance of “the other type of

    language”, that is, body language. Remind the

    students of the fact that manners and dress

    sense certainly say a lot about a person, but

    the person’s body could still let her/him down.

    For that reason, ask your students to analyse

    in groups what they would do in a job

    interview and the way they would

    communicate bearing these ideas in mind:

     Body barriers.

     Face touching.

     Eye contact.



     Lint picking.

     Hands using.

Step 2

After some reasonable time for the idea-

    sharing session, either tell them what they

    really should do not to blow their job chances

    or let them check the truthfulness of their

    answers at:

    job/applications/badbodylanguage (Bad Body

    Language and Body Language for Interviews).


a) Body barriers.

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

    It’s natural to hide behind barriers when we

    want to protect ourselves, but in an interview

    is not the time to come over all shy and

    retiring. Folding your arms across your chest

    conveys a nervous, negative even aggressive

    attitude that will only get your interviewer

    marking crosses way down the clipboard. You

    could say the same about leg crossing, but

    most experts agree that’s your upper torso

    that really says most about you.

    Tip: crossing your legs loosely is fine if it

    makes you feel happier, especially if you’re

    wearing a skirt, but if you can “point” at the

    interviewer with your knees or your feet it

    shows you’re focused right on them.

b) Face touching.

    Children often cover their mouths when

    they’re telling lies, and this is a habit that

    extends into adulthood. It is just as we get

    older, so our body language becomes a bit

    more refined. Hand covering becomes nose

    touching or cheek brushing, but it’ll still invite

    suspicion on the part of your interviewer.

c) Eye contact.

    Don’t keep turning your attention to the floor

    or the ceiling. It might be a blank canvas for

    your thoughts, but it appears as if you’re

    evading a question.

    Maintain true and steady eye contact, but

    remember to blink. To avoid that staring-like-

    a-serial-killer mistake, form a mental triangle

    on your interviewer’s forehead and make sure

    that your gaze doesn’t drop below eye level.

    Any further south and things start to get a bit

    intimate: an interest in their mouth may

    persuade them to think that you’re hitting on

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA


    d) Position.

    The way you sit conveys a lot of subtle

    information to the people on the other side of

    the desk. Don’t take the seat like it’s Old

    Sparky; instead, use a moment to get

    comfortable. If you look relaxed, it’ll

    encourage your interviewer/s to feel at ease in

    your company. Just be careful not to take it to

    extremes and kick back like you’re at home on

    the sofa. Flipping the chair round and

    straddling it is also perhaps just a little too


e) Fidgeting.

    You might be tempted to lose that nervous

    energy through the floorboards, but watching

    your knee bouncing up and down is one

    distraction your interviewer doesn’t need. If

    you’re really finding it hard to sit still, then

    channel it into hand gestures that back up

    what you’re saying.

f) Lint picking.

    Plucking dust from your sleeves or your knees

    conveys an element of boredom or distrust,

    because in some ways it’s an excuse to form

    another body barrier. Even if you’re certain

    there’s a speck on your leg, just leave it alone.

    Nobody else will have noticed it but you.

g) Hand using.

    On one hand, a handshake when greeting

    someone is very important. If you can mirror

    their grip it avoids any dominant/submissive


    On the other hand, being physically expressive

    as you speak shows a certain confidence in the

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

    stuff you’re saying. Use your hands to roll out

    your answers or give shape to your ideas and,

    at the very least, your interviewer will think

    you know what you’re talking about.


Students (in groups) imagine they’re in a job

    interview. Thus, two people can play the role

    of interviewers and one can be the candidate.

    All the groups will act out their interviews and,

    when they finish, the teacher will comment on

    each group’s performance. At the end, they

    will choose the best interviewee.

    2) 60` Step 1 Speaking ; A radiocassette and player.

    Listening: Another right way of introducing the topic ; The audiocassette

     from the textbook “nonverbal communication” is using a mentioned in the “The recording titled “Watch your body language”, activity. meanings of which appears in Unit 10, page 90 of the text gestures”.

    book “Think Ahead to First Certificate”

    (Longman, 1993). In this interview with an

    expert on international gestures, students

    have to note down the meanings of the

    different gestures mentioned by Dr Ian



    1) In India, if a person keeps shaking his

    head when talking to you, he means

    he’s agreeing with you.

    2) The thumbs up sign we use to mean

    OK is known throughout northern

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

    Europe. But if you go to Greece or

    Italy, people won’t understand what

    you’re on about.

    3) The “hand purse” sign in Italy means

    “What are you getting at?” or “I don’t

    understand”. In France it can mean

    you’re afraid. In Greece it means that

    something is good, while in Spain it

    simply means “a lot”.


    After this listening exercise, it would very

    amusing to let students either talk about their

    own anecdotes abroad and give some sound

    advice on the use of similar body language, or

    think about the kind of gestures that would

    shock a foreign person: angry gestures,

    friendly gestures, warning gestures and so on.

     2) 60’ the

    activity and Step 1 ; Pictures of the 60’ the gestures. feedback

     This activity is an adaptation of “What’s the Speaking:

     message?” in Barry Tomalin and Susan “What’s the

    message?” Stempleski, “Cultural Awareness” (Oxford

     English, 1993), pp 117-119. Using the sample

     pictures of the most common gestures in the

    world, some of them only in UK and in the

    USA, students, in groups, have to take turns

    to pick up a picture from a pile facing down

    and be able to describe the gesture without

    making it. They are allowed to illustrate the

    appropriate contexts for those gestures. The

    first person who guesses the gesture is the

    next person who chooses a card. The winner is

    EOI OVIEDO 2005-2006 IDEA

    the student who guesses the largest number

    of them.


1) Number one means “Good luck!” or “I

    hope everything goes well”.

    2) Number two means that a person is

    crazy. It is often used as a joke and is

    normally used only when talking

    privately about a third person.

    3) Number three means “I don’t know” or

    “I have no idea”.

    4) Number four means “I can’t / didn’t

    hear you”.

    5) Number five means “That’s enough” or

    “It’s all over for me”.

    6) Number six is the “thumbs down” sign,

    used to indicate rejection or refusal.

    7) Number seven is used in some parts of

    the world to mean “Something is a bit

    suspicious / odd here”.

    8) Number eight means “Come here”.

    9) Number nine is widely used in the US

    (but not in Britain, where a “thumbs

    up” sign is used) to mean “OK”.

    10) Number ten is used in Italy to say

    “Hello!”. For Indonesians, Malaysians

    and some speakers of Arabic, it signals

    “Come here”. Some speakers of English

    might confuse this gesture with the

    wave for “Goodbye”.

    11) Number eleven means “Oh, I forgot”

    or is used as an expression of surprise.

    12) Number twelve means “Slow down”,

    “Relax”, or “Wait a second”.

    Gestures not used in the UK or Us are


    numbers 7 and 10.


    It’s amazing to verify that only one gesture is

    subject to wide interpretation. For this reason,

    the best evaluation for the students would be

    to read the conclusions from the Italian,

    German… students in order to compare how

    equal or different European students are. This

    is the best way to help people grow tolerant

    and respectful.

    Apart from this, you can encourage your

    students to draw up their own “group gestures

    code”. After a while, let each group perform it.

    This way, as well as having fun, they will

    realise how easy or difficult it is to make

    themselves understood

Possible activities:

    *A Listening activity: Watch your Body Language”, from “Think Ahead to

    First Certificate”, Longman.

    *A Reading and Speaking activity: “The Gestures around the World Test”.

    *A Speaking activity: “Non-verbal Communication: What do you Mean?”, an

    adaptation from , Oxford “What’s the Message”(“Cultural Awareness”)

    University Press.


    Intermediate upwards.


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