According to the common sense, language is considered in itself only as verbal language, meaning “made of words”. Indeed, the concept of language is far more extensive

The term indicates “a form of communicative behaviour apt to transmit information and to create an interactional relation that utilize symbols having an identical value for the individuals belonging to the same sociocultural environment” (Treccani Encyclopedia).

Given this definition, then, it is impossible to limit the language to its structure or to the verbal code, since communication between individuals doesn’t take place only by using the linguistic system, but also by activating a series of non-verbal codes that contribute to the construction of the message from the sender to the comprehension of the recipient.

As far as didactic level is concerned, the development of the communicative competence has to happen by considering the different codes, both verbal and non verbal, also because it is precisely the non verbal competences of the communications that supply the first interpretation key

The learner of a foreign language first perceives and interprets the “para-text”, which is everything that surrounds the text, and only after he codifies and understands the words.

The “para-text” is made of two components, which are mainly in relation with the language code: the paralinguistic ones, which are the prosodic characteristics of the spoken language, and the kinesics, which means the body movements.

In a communicative and pragmatic perspective, the teaching of the Italian language cannot leave out of consideration all this, especially considering that the non verbal codes assume a fundamental role in the contemporary communication.

In particular, gesture is the component that more than others provide an in-depth analysis, especially in relation with the vast gestural repertory of the Italian speaking community and their strict bond with the verbal communication in the face-to-face interaction.

Eugenia Pesci

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