Nonverbal Communication and Body Language

It has been concluded by scientists that between 60-70% (some even suggest 90%) of our communicaiton is NONVERBAL, and is derived from BODY LANGUAGE and PARALINGUISTIC cues.


BODY LANGUAGE= posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye movement, proxemics (personal space)

PARALINGUISTIC CUES= pitch, volume, intonation

Nonverbal Communication is a language of sorts, and because it gives clues as to the state of mind of the person (the communicator), study of body language leads right into our next unit on EMOTION AS A WAY OF KNOWING.

Here is a Wikipedia overview:

We know there are cultural differences and even gender differences in the use of body language, but did you know that Charles Darwin described “Universal” facial expressions in his The Expression of the Emotions of Man and Animals (1872)? ***which outsold Origin of the Species!

VIDEO: Gestures around the World

VIDEO: The Human Animal: Gestures, Meanings, and Cultures

Link: List of Gestures from Around the World (yes, some viewer discretion advised)

Here’s a great link to explore what he was talking about:

and a YouTube: 

Picking up on body language symbols, and being aware of the ones you put out, is an important and useful life skill. You will probably need it most when interviewing for a job or other position, meeting new people, and, of course, flirting and dating.

More on that here:

Here’s a great video about “tells” in flirting.

Our good friend Charlie at the BBC again explores the Science of Attraction. How does our NONVERBAL communication play a role in our first impressions of others. Watch carefully for the cues or “tells”.

More useful links:

Psych Today article: Body language links

VIDEO: Gestures and Body Language

VIDEO: Science in Action: Facial Expressions (are they learned or innate?)

VIDEO: Microexpressions

VIDEO: Lie to Me show clip

VIDEO: How to tell if a guy is attracted to you (mostly about nonverbal communication)

VIDEO: How to captivate people when you speak

Article: How to read Body language

Article: How waiters judge you!

Article: Exploring the various types of body language based on emotions

Article: Nonverbal Communication basics

Wiki: Nonverbal Communication (all about)

Article: Top 10 Nonverbal Communication Tips

VIDEO: Are facial expressions universal? What stories can a face tell.

This is an hour long and excellent!

TED talk! Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Language Fun


Can you get by speaking Irish in Ireland?

8 Fun Facts about the Irish Language

Word Nerd: Irish Contributions to the English Language

Language B Group Investigation / Presentation

Lost in Translation

Cartoon D9 Starbucks copy

Does the language we speak influence our personality?

Do languages themselves have “personalities”?

Can one language be more aggressive, more passive, more emotional than the other?

What happens when paralinguistic cues (like body language and gestures) are misinterpreted?

Are there some words and expressions that are untranslatable into English? What does this tell us about the limitations of language?


1. Group together in your Language B teams (Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese).

2. Find out some idioms, slang terms (keep it clean, and you might want to investigate “textspeak” ), terms of endearment, gestures and other body language that differs significantly from English/American. Since this is a group effort, you should delegate subtopics and inform me of what you are doing (maybe start a Diigo forum planning area?)


3. You are expected to ask your Language B teachers for assistance (they know about this)

4. Make a brief presentation for the class in the form of a collaborative Prezi, PowerPoint, Google Presentation, Projeqt, Vuvox, YouTube video or the like. You can do some acting / demonstrating as well.



BBC Languages – HOME

BBC: Don’t Try This Abroad – watch humorous video vignettes of travellers who have mispoken in different countries

BBC: Language and Identity (forum) – in what ways does language shape our identities? People from all over the world write in!

The Cult of the Hyperpolyglot – includes a must-see VIDEO!

Enduring Voices Project – on the World’s Disappearing Languages

Enduring Voices : Talking Dictionaries

YOUTUBE Channel: Enduring Voices (hear native speakers of dying languages)

QUIZ: The most Common Words in English (globally)

100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language – do you agree?

Hugh Laurie and Ellen discuss American vs. British SLANG: VIDEO

18 Untranslatable Words from Around the Globe

“Better Than English”: Words that Might be Better in Another Tongue

The Beauty of Untranslatable Words

Here’s my friend Martin: