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Intermediate Spanish: Understanding spoken Spanish
Intermediate Spanish: Understanding spoken Spanish

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4.2 Body language

In this section, we will look at how non-verbal communication gives clues to meaning and helps the understanding of foreign language visual media.

Box 4: Reading body language

One of the significant advantages of watching a video or a film is that it offers you visual support. You gain information about the context and the characters and also pick up gestures, facial expressions and body language that can help you infer meaning from speech and understand more of the spoken language.

Indeed, body language plays a crucial role in communication and an awareness of it and how it can vary from culture to culture, can be particularly important in developing the ability to understand in a real environment. Body language is made up of a whole range of features (eye contact, facial expression, proximity, posture and gesture), many of which we combine together without ever thinking about what it is we are doing or what we are expressing.

Actividad 17

Now watch this video in which two brothers, Alberto and Javier Soto, talk about their love and passion for their family business. Pay particular attention to their gestures and how these emphasise the ideas they want to communicate. Match the phrases below with the body part they use for emphasis as they say these phrases. If you want, you can watch it with English subtitles.

Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Cabeza

  2. Dedos

  3. Dedo índice

  4. Manos en puño

  5. Palma de las manos

  6. Brazos

  7. Cabeza y brazos

  8. Cara

  9. Cabeza, dedos y brazos

  • a.“Siendo un poquito manitas”

  • b.“Yo tengo una hija y él tiene dos”

  • c.“Coges la puerta de tu casa”

  • d.“Cuando les hablas de la money”

  • e.“Ves, hacerse, sí lo hacemos”

  • f.“Mi padre y un tío”

  • g.“Estoy superorgulloso de ser carpintero”

  • h.“Compramos la pizza, llegamos a casa, abrimos el microondas”

  • i.“No lo comparemos con el cocido”

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = f
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = e
  • 4 = c
  • 5 = a
  • 6 = h
  • 7 = i
  • 8 = g
  • 9 = b


Note that cocido is a Spanish stew. Javier is comparing the difference between microwave meals and home-cooked food to explain the difference between pre-fabricated and artisanal furniture.