From: Mercedes Monaco
Submit: Post Message
Date: 11 Dec 1996
Miguel, I talked about what you said in class in my paper. Is it ok for me to use your name? Here's what I wrote:
Spanish appears to be the first language of most of the children at the site. Most of the children were able to hold conversations in English, but a few spoke very little or no English. One might instinctively think that monolingual Spanish speaking children would use a lot of nonverbal communication when trying to communicate with primarily English speaking undergraduates. But a study by Marcon (1985) suggests that children limited in a second language reduce their body movements when interacting with someone speaking a language other than their native tongue. The majority of the undergraduates at the site were English speakers so it is difficult to make a comparison between the nonverbal communication of the children based on the language of the undergraduate. Based on their own experience, many of the undergraduates voiced disbelief that second language speakers reduced body language. One undergraduate sited a interaction with a Spanish speaking girl who speaks a limited amount of English. The child was trying to tell the undergraduate, who speaks some Spanish, about something that happened in school. She tried to tell the undergraduate in Spanish, but he didn't understand. The child began to demonstrate by hitting herself on the head. Eventually, the undergraduate understood that she'd been hit on the head (personal communication, M., 1996). This could be seen as contrary to the study. The child used a great deal of nonverbal communication to tell her story. But, the undergraduate spoke some Spanish, so this is not a clear example of a limited second language speaker interacting with someone speaking other than their native tongue. This issue is complicated. The study did not suggest that limited second language speakers do not use nonverbal communication, it suggested they use less. In order for us to see if this is true in our interactions, someone would need to score different interactions for nonverbal cues. It would be interesting for future undergraduates at the site to look into this.