Language Beyond Speech


Have you ever noticed how people change when they speak English?
When spoken properly not just the language, but the expression, body, and personality changes as well!

In the past year my husband has been working with foreign clients, and because he works from home, I often watch him in his meetings. Everything, from the way he sits, how he holds his hands, facial expressions changes when he speaks to foreign clients versus Japanese clients. The content of the meetings are usually the same, as well as formality. So why is there such a stark difference?

When people speak a different language they do a process called frame or code switching. They reflect the culture of the language as they speak. If the culture’s mannerisms aren't reflected, the outcome looks strange for fluent speakers. It feels inauthentic.

Personally, I have found those that have poor English, but good body language easy to understand. Those with perfect pronunciation, but using the body language of their native country are easier to misunderstand. The proper body language is a key element of code switching.

But how is this body language learned? Through exposure of course!
My husband spent nearly two years abroad, and lived with American roommates. After university, he lived with me, his American wife. So, he quickly learned American body language.

In YTJ we give the members a great opportunity to be exposed to new cultures through all our international staff. As the members interact with us, they observe our body language, facial expressions,and quickly learn how to mimic us.

As I had been working at Azamino studio for 3 years now, I've been able to see the linear growth of the members. I noticed a few members have picked up on a few mannerisms beyond what they were intentionally taught by me, and other ICY staff. It makes me happy, even if their pronunciation isn't quite perfect yet.

I hope to continue to support the members in their English, especially now in preparation for EVE.