How To Speak Body Language

Learning to speak a language isn’t just learning vocabulary and pronunciation. It’s also about learning body language, facial expressions, and how you should react to certain things.


Body language is an important part of any language and culture, so check out this list to get a well-rounded language learning experience!


Crossed Arms

If you’re talking to someone with crossed arms, it could mean one of a few things. Either that position is a) super comfortable for them, b) they’re thinking over something, or c) they’re unhappy.


This one has to do a lot with context, and you should look at their faces as well to determine what exactly they may be trying to “say” to you through their gesture.

Leaning Forward

If someone is leaning forward while talking to you, they’re probably very interested in what you have to say. They’re trying to get close to you in order to show that they’re involved in the conversation and want to hear everything you’re trying to tell them.


Keep talking, ’cause you’ve got them on the hook!


Backing Away

This particular form of backing away is almost distinctly American. We really like having our personal space and it’s not meant as an insult if we back away during a conversation. If you’re standing close to us, we may even do it subconsciously.


So don’t be confused if you’re having a perfectly friendly conversation with an American and they start to back away slightly. They don’t mean any harm by it!

Hunched Shoulders

During a conversation, if someone is standing with hunched shoulders, they may be uncomfortable with the topic of conversation. This counts double if they cross their arms at the same time! They could be trying to protect themselves from whatever is being discussed.


Maybe try to change the topic of conversation, so that everyone feels included!


Standing Up Tall

If someone is standing up nice and straight and looking you directly in the eye, they feel very comfortable and confident in what is being spoken about. Try and engage them more in conversation. Because who knows? You may learn something new!

What kinds of body language do you pick up on most? Is there a gesture that’s specific to your culture? Share with us in the comments below!



Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher,  yoga instructor, and always speaks her body language clearly!



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