Using Body Language to Communicate

If you’re a language learner, you know it can be difficult to express yourself clearly when you just don’t have the right words. 

That’s where body language comes in!

What is Body Language?

Also known as nonverbal communication, body language is how you “say” things without using words. Whenever you communicate, you should make sure your body language matches your meaning!

Examples of Body Language

Body language isn’t the same everywhere. What’s normal in one country might not be okay in another. Since it isn’t possible to list every type of body language for all cultures, we’re just going to look at a few common examples. Read on!

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions show emotions and reactions when you’re speaking or listening.

Some facial expressions are universal, meaning they’re the same everywhere in the world. These are the expressions for happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger. 


When you’re happy, you raise the corners of your mouth and tighten the muscles around your eyes.


Sadness is shown by lowering the corners of your mouth and raising the inside corners of your eyebrows. 


If you’re surprised, your eyes open wide and your jaw lowers.


When you’re afraid, your mouth opens slightly, your eyebrows go up, and your eyes open.


When you’re feeling disgusted, you raise your top lip, wrinkle your nose, and raise your cheeks.


Anger is shown by lowered eyebrows and tightened lips. 


The way you sit or stand can send positive or negative messages. Here are two types of posture that can affect your communication with others.

Open Posture

When you have an open posture, your head is raised, your feet are apart, and your face is relaxed. You’re facing the person you’re speaking or listening to. In many countries, this posture shows that you’re friendly, positive, and interested. 

Closed Posture 

This posture includes crossed arms, a hunched body, and legs crossed away from the person you’re communicating with. When you have a closed posture, you might seem bored, angry, or uncomfortable. 


When you’re having trouble communicating, you probably use gestures to be understood. If you want to tell someone to turn left, for example, you might simply point to the left. If you’re thirsty, you might pretend to lift a drinking glass to your mouth. When you like something, you might give a “thumbs up” sign. 

Whatever gestures you make, be careful—they don’t all mean the same thing in all countries. Make sure you don’t say something rude with your hands!

Eye Contact 

Eye contact is an important part of communication in a lot of cultures. Looking someone directly in the eye shows that you’re interested and paying attention. It can also show that you’re honest and confident. 

It’s important to remember that the use of eye contact is not the same in all cultures. In some countries, too much eye contact can cause discomfort. It can even be seen as a display of anger. 


Facial expressions, posture, gestures, and eye contact are just a few of the things that can help you send a clear message whenever you speak or listen. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.