Five more days to go and then our Unplugged Conference is on in Barcelona.

can also register on the day in reception at OxfordTEFL if the online
registration doesn’t work.

I will now continue our discussion on Giving Feedback. On our annual IATEFL Conference in Brighton we had an interesting PCE entitled ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ chaired by Duncan Foord and Catherine Mitsaki. More than 60 people turned up and quite a number of issues were raised by members which I would like to share with you in this blog. One member wrote about non-verbal gestures and the potential influence they might have on your group members. For example, if one pupil continues to stare at the ceiling whilst another pupil is giving feedback, it is likely to have an effect on the behaviour of the speaker. The speaker will probably interpret these actions as indifference and may start to feel uneasy. A number of mainly non-verbal gestures were mentioned such as: tapping a pencil on the table; yawning continuously; slowly shaking your head; shrugging your shoulders; nodding, ‘ umming and ahing’.  If you examine the possible reasons behind these gestures with your group of pupils you’ll notice that it’s often not very easy to say with certainty what the reason is for a particular gesture. The conclusion must be that we have to be cautious when interpreting non-verbal signs. Behaviour is often ambiguous in relation to the motives that precede it.

According to a recent British daily newspaper, the following body language and gestures are tell-tale signs that a pupil is lying during a feedback session;

  • grasping the chair too tightly
  • scratching their noses
  • smiling, without raising their eyebrows.

The article raises the following very important questions; Can we be absolutely sure that a specific non-verbal sign proves that the other person is lying? How can we distinguish between a gesture which indicates that your pupil is trying to deceive and a similar or identical gesture which might mean nerves or anxiety? Let us know what you think.