When words do not matter

Featuring: Video Video

Body language, gestures, willingness to communicate and share knowledge can get you a long way when you do not speak each other’s language.

By: Dr. María Fernández-Toro (Department of Languages)

  • Duration 15 mins
  • Updated Monday 23rd April 2012
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Languages
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Gestures and body language are important in all face-to-face communication, but when we do not speak the same language, they are simply essential. Throughout the filming of the TV series, the Hairy Bikers, together with the production team and their European hosts, deployed all manner of strategies to get around the so-called 'language barrier'.

As you will see, the results went beyond their expectations, and they discovered just how effective these strategies can be in achieving true communication between human beings. Rising to the challenge proved to be an enriching and enjoyable learning experience for everyone.

When words do not matter

Click each image to watch the Hairy Bikers communicating without words.

In the absence of a common language, a shared passion or expertise can be a great help to communication. Copyright BBC Making a series featuring contributors with no English at all was a new challenge for producers Richard Sharman and Oliver Clark. Copyright BBC Nikka teaches Dave to make waffles using body language and tone of voice. Copyright BBC The meaning of foreign words is easy to guess when these are presented in context. Copyright BBC Fritz has a good few things in common with the Hairy Bikers - probably why they get on so well without the need to speak each other's languages. Copyright BBC Lively characters make good television. Monika speaks no English, but knows exactly how to engage with the Hairy Bikers. Copyright BBC

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