Enhancing acquisition of intercultural nonverbal competence : Thai English as a foreign language learners and the use of contemporary English language films

Damnet, Anamai (2008) Enhancing acquisition of intercultural nonverbal competence : Thai English as a foreign language learners and the use of contemporary English language films. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study investigates aspects of the teaching and learning of intercultural nonverbal competence by university students majoring in English in Thailand and starts from the position that intercultural nonverbal competence is an important, but neglected area within English language teaching for international communication. Five aspects of nonverbal communication where there are pronounced differences between Thai and native English norms are investigated: facial expressions, eye contact and gaze, bodily communication, kinesics (touching), and vocalic communication. The study employs a range of qualitative and quantitative approaches in conducting classroom research on the learning and teaching of nonverbal communication within university EFL speaking and listening skills classes. Seventy-three second year undergraduate students majoring in English were randomly assigned to and participated in one of two different teaching interventions both of which involved the use of the same four American and Australian contemporary films. The experimental intervention involved explicit teaching of nonverbal communication and the other more traditional one provided exposure to the same native speaker interactions in the same four films, but with classroom activities focused on linguistic and pragmatic features arising from the films. Adopting a quasi-experimental pre and posttest design the study includes three phases of data collection: (1) pre teaching assessment, (2) teaching phase, and (3) post teaching assessment. The pre and post teaching assessments cover students’ attitudes towards, understanding of and ability to employ nonverbal communication when communicating in English in intercultural contexts. The post teaching assessment covers these same areas together with additional qualitative data collection about students’ experiences of participation in the study. Data analyses include use of analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) and within group t-tests. The study reveals that in comparison with students from the control group students from the experimental group who had participated in the explicit teaching of nonverbal communication had: (a) more positive attitudes towards nonverbal communication of English native speakers, (b) a higher level of understanding of nonverbal communication of English native speakers (c) a higher level of ability to apply nonverbal channels in communication appropriately in role playing interaction with an English native speaker, and, in addition, (d) most students from both groups felt positive about the opportunities that practising role plays and viewing contemporary English language films provided for them to enhance their intercultural acquisition of nonverbal competence in communicating in English with native speakers. Qualitative data supported the quantitative findings and also indicated that students in the experimental group had achieved a deeper and more explicit understanding of the role of nonverbal communication in interactions in English, whilst also demonstrating a strong sense of what might be acceptable in an English language context with English native speakers and what is acceptable with fellow Thais. Furthermore, the results highlight that it is not essential for nonnative speakers to stay/study abroad in English as native language speaking countries in order to improve their communicative and intercultural nonverbal competences to levels approximating that of native speakers. Films and role play, when used appropriately, may provide effective native speaker modeling and opportunities for practice.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2023
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > RFCD Classification > 420000 Language and Culture
Keywords English as a foreign language, nonverbal communication, Intercultural nonverbal competence, English language, Thai university students
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login