“I speak two languages, Body and English.” – Mae West.

Linguagem Corporal
Body language
Body language


“I speak two languages, Body and English.”  – Mae West.


It’s no secret that at busuu we love to speak languages – but what is really being communicated by what we don’t say?

Practising your grammar and vocabulary is without doubt very important, but being aware of what your body is saying can really make a difference! 

What is body language?

Words are wonderful, but they are only half the story: eye contact, gestures, facial expression and posture are some of the things that make up our body language. In other words, body language is the way we all communicate nonverbally.

 Our bodies don’t lie

About 55% of communication is nonverbal, so in fact, our bodies are actually saying more than our words!

Your posture, the way you hold your body, can send many different messages. Standing upright with your shoulders back will make you seem confident, open and receptive, for example. Find out more about the different messages our posture can send here!

Mixed messages – body language around the globe:

Good impressions

Whereas in the UK and the Unites States, smiling would seem like a harmless gesture – friendly in fact – if you smile at a stranger in Russia, you can be seen as strange and suspicious. In Southeast Asia, on the other hand, a smile can be used to hide negative emotions.

You may want to think twice when travelling to other countries. You never quite know what you’re body might be saying.

Mixed Messages

A smile, a ‘thumbs-up’, a handshake; its easy to assume that a lot of our body language is universal. But, we’ve uncovered some surprising facts about body language around the world.

Did you know that the seemingly inoffensive ‘thumbs-up’ gesture is an insult in some countries? Or that pointing will get you into trouble in others? Maybe even more confusing – While for us (and many other countries) nodding is a sign of agreement, it means a very definite ‘no’ in places like Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Albania.

So it’s easy to see why body language matters, especially for you language learners. Learn more and make sure that you and your friends around the world always see eye to eye!

 Continue learning!

Marta was an Italian Language Expert at busuu. She grew up in Iseo, a small town in the north of Italy and later went to London to study French and Russian at university. As part of her degree she studied in Siberia. She’s an avid rock climber and when she's not busy climbing she enjoys writing, poetry and meditation.


  1. yo soy persona mayor 72 años me cuesta mucho aprender pero tengo que hacerlo porque tengo que vivir en canada, ustedes me escriben en ingles yo no entiendo nada, gracias por escribirme y sobretodo por tenerme en cuenta. DIOS YAVE los bendiga

  2. Hi dear busuu
    Body language is different in different countries .but when we go abroad ,maybe we can’t speak but we can show our emotion by gesture .it’s not enough for us but it canneseserry.any way I’m so happy from busuu

  3. I’m learning French and English I live in Mexico where I’m studying psychology, I can mix both of them and realize that the body language is very important in the human, because is the way that we express how we are, our personality.

  4. i do agree with you that the body language is very sensitive in for example so countries thumbs-up is like very bad action like uganda if you thumb-up to a lady it means let us go to bed so she may slap you, so we have to take care when ever we are planning to a country in which we have never been before.

  5. Thank you busuu … it makes me more careful in expressing myself when not at home in my own country…besides the German language is being taught in such a fun way…the phrases and sentences really help in understanding how to express the word learnt….

  6. .busuu is really good for us .saintaus if u want to talk with me i m ready .because we ought to learn more.i hope u want learn more.tankx

  7. HI There,
    your e-mail shows continue learning about our body language but explaine a short part of it.Please mail me complete material
    with Regards,

  8. The origin of accent

    When a child begins to speak, he/she sets its articulatory base on that of the people surrounding him/her. Different languages have different normal movements of the parts of articulatory base in the time of talking. For that reason the speech effect in the vocal tract is different. When the tissues there are still young and yield to speech actions, permanent changes take place on the pharynx wall. Behind the lower part of the tongue there is an activated surface created. A mechanical speech apparatus is formed in the vocal tract, which is serviceable until the death of the owner. After a certain critical period
    all new acquired languages are spoken with that instrument. As the native language has a limited number of sounds and their characteristics are only for that language, all the others are pronounced incorrectly.

    A person can have more than one talking instrument in his/her vocal tract – for instance, when a child is born in a bilingual family.

    For comparison: a person has a melody in his/her head and he/she can make it audible with the help of musical instruments, whereas each of them has its own “accent”. But the melody can be right with all instruments.

    Why phoneticians do not want to admit that they have no idea about the origin of accent?

    Leonhard Klaar

  9. If Italians stop speaking their body language will be enough to get understood 🙂 Nothing personal with the Italians but they are so temperament that you have the impression that you will find your way without knowing a word of the language 🙂


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