Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)

The Language Not Spoken

by Shauna Coburn

Have you ever looked at someone and felt like you knew how they were feeling? Maybe you and your best friend are sitting in the same lecture, and when something is said you both look at one another and know you had the same thought. Or maybe if you have taught a lecture to small children and you looked at their faces and noticed they had no idea what you were talking about. These can be some examples of nonverbal communication. I am interested in the topic of nonverbal communication because I plan to be a teacher in the future, and I feel like teachers should have a good understanding of nonverbal communication.

Some people don’t even realize the significance of how they say something, and that the delivery is just as important as what you are saying. The gestures and facial expressions used when saying something can completely change the message. If you say “Hey”, with your eyebrows furrowed to a group of students, they may assume that they have done something wrong and you are telling them to stop. If you said “Hey”, with a smile on your face and jolly tone, then those students will assume you are just being kind and acknowledging their existence. This is just one example of how the facial expressions can impact the delivery of the same statement.

Image Credit: Joshua Seong

I think that the use of nonverbal communication is heavily used in the classroom. Both students and teachers are constantly using both verbal and nonverbal language. Students can completely read their teacher just solely off her expression, if they choose to. Some individuals are better at reading how another individual feels, but other times a person makes their feelings obvious because they are so expressive with their emotions. Some individuals give a lot of nonverbal cues about how they are feeling, and other people have ways of hiding their expressions. I know several people within my family that are great at hiding their emotions, and I also know several who can’t hold back how they are feeling at all.

Another important aspect for teachers regarding nonverbal communication, is the idea of not showing their own emotions. In a reading by Charles Galloway, it states that it may not be in the best interest of the teacher if she shows her emotions. It is a challenge for teachers to stay alert at all times to try to prevent the facial expressions that show certain emotions. Generally, teachers will want to stay happy and communicate their lessons through happiness. If the teacher isn’t enthusiastic, then the students won’t be excited to learn either. In a different reading by Charles Galloway, students were asked what teachers do, and most students remember the negative nonverbal reactions rather than the positives.

Lastly, people in everyday life use nonverbal communication to get to know one another. When you want to know how someone is feeling, you often look at their posture or mannerism. There are a lot of people who do things that show directly who they are as a person, or exactly how they are feeling. I know that my body language is very reflective of how I am feeling, and people often know when I don’t feel comfortable somewhere. Nonverbal communication can be used in all sorts of ways, and many people don’t even realize how important nonverbal communication is in everyday life.

Overall, nonverbal communication is an essential element within the classroom and everyday life. Every individual uses nonverbal communication on daily basis, even if they don’t realize it. So, the next time you are saying something of major importance, check your tone and facial expression. It is important that you match your tone and facials with the message you are trying to send.


Galloway, C. (2019, October 7). Nonverbal Communication. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/1475983

Galloway, C. (2019, October 8). Nonverbal Teacher Behaviors: A Critique. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/1162209


Shauna Coburn is a junior at Chadron State College. She was born and raised in Rushville, NE. She is studying Elementary Education and would love to teach in the lower elementary grades one day.


One thought on “Wordplay Blog: The Language Not Spoken

  1. Shauna,
    Throughout my education in communication, which is very little, I remember learning most about nonverbal communication. The way a person holds themselves through their mannerisms, the tone they use, and their facial expression says a lot about how they are feeling. As I read your post and related it to my teaching experience, I can recall a few specific events that this has been applicable to me. One time, I had to teach a lesson to a class of twenty-five first grade students and record myself doing it. I was then required to review the video with my instructor and let me tell you- it was cringe-worthy. I knew that I was uncomfortable as I had twenty-five set of little eyes, two sets of big eyes, and a camera watching me- but I thought I held myself together well at the time. As I reviewed the video with my instructor, I quickly saw that this was not the case. My gestures were unpleasant as my hands remained crossed in front of my body, my tone was undesirable to first graders as my voice was quiet and shaky, and there was not much movement happening regarding my whole body. I was extremely nervous, and it showed through my nonverbal communication. After reflecting upon this video with my instructor, I became very aware of how I am nonverbally communicating in various social situations. Sometimes, after I say something, I tend to overthink about what my nonverbal communication implied about the statement. I will often go back and make amends with that person, regardless of whether they picked up on a negative implication or not. Nonverbal communication is such an important aspect of language and may not be acknowledged as much as it should be among everyone. I appreciate your blog post as a friendly reminder of how important it is. Thanks for sharing!


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