Non-verbal Communication in Multilingual Settings  

Non-verbal Communication and Sensory Aides

Non-verbal communication allows a person to make his or her wants and needs known without using words. Within the Reggio Emilia Approach, it is discussed that children have over “one hundred modes of expression” such as words, painting, and music. In a pedagogical approach, it is important to allow children to express themselves in all their many forms of language (Edwards & Forman, 1993).     

Children such as Sofia, who have a different first language than the majority language may be especially in need of other communicative resources. Educators can foster children's imagination and provide alternative ways of expression by providing activities in which these children in particular can feel comfortable participating.  This can be through simply observing and listening and/or moving their bodies (Kultti & Pramling, 2017).This type of participation allows them to feel as though they are being included, as well as encourages them to feel more comfortable trying out verbal communication (Grøver Aukrust, 2007).   

Practical tips:
Songs such as “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” encourage children to move their bodies in a way that pairs specific words with their corresponding body parts. Picture books also provide a way for children to pair familiar looking animals with new words and sounds.