Recent studies in second language education are dedicating more attention to nonverbal behavior in the form of body language, hand gestures, eye contact, etc., because it has been found to help explain language learning and use in different contexts and with different learners. Moreover, the increasing number of multilingual speakers in today’s language classes compels educators to be alert about the interpretations that these participants make of nonverbal behaviour as a means and as a subject of instruction.
Considering that traditionally language education has focused its attention to speech in particular, we believe that scholars can assist educational institutions and offer guidelines as to how integrate nonverbal behaviour in language classes. In this presentation, we offer an example of an activity where we tried to promote attention to nonverbal behaviour, particularly the body, in classes of Italian in Canada and in Italy. We asked 224 students of Italian and their 16 instructors to react to a questionnaire inquiring about the meanings and functions that they attribute to the body during their Italian class. The purpose of the exercise was to expand Italian pedagogy towards a more inclusive perspective on the modalities that contribute to meaning making in communication.