Gestures, Cueing and Modeling in the EFL Classroom
It is common sense that students in an EFL classroom may not always understand what their instructor wants them to do when given directions in English. Obviously, they are there to learn English and won’t get every nuance of your requests. Gestures and cueing are important.
An effective EFL instructor will use their body to help give students additional information about what they want them do. Modeling (doing what you want students to do by showing them what is wanted), gesturing to prompt behaviors and cueing with more subtle movements all provide assistance to the students.
The target language you are teaching is the most important component of any lesson and you don’t want to get stuck in a lesson with students not knowing what to do. Always model any activity first, gesture to show students when you want them to respond chorally, “listen” (put your hands behind your ears) and “repeat” (move your hands away from your mouth) and give cues by pointing to target language on the board.
Give only the amount of gestures and cueing needed and withdraw it as soon as you can. Increase usage when needed and reduce it as the students seem to understand what is requested of them.
Effective use of these tools will make your class go much more smoothly. As the image of the book above indicates, ask and be aware of any cultural differences in gestures. In many cultures, pointing with a finger is quite rude as is gesturing with your palm facing up versus down. Find out what works in the country where you will be teaching.
A good short article about using gestures and mime in the classroom can be found at Busy Teacher.
An excellent article about basic research on theory using gestures can be found HERE.