Body Language Vocabulary

Here is a list of body language communication and a free video watch with extra vocabulary. There are many examples of how body language is a form of communication. Body language is used in every country and culture throughout the world.

Why is body language important to understand?

  •  Body language is used to assess people’s characters. It is one of the first ways we assess a stranger’s character.
  • Body language is used to communicate directly with someone when language is not possible.
  • Body language is commonly used and assessed at work and interviews.
  • Body language is an essential part of friendships and relationships.
  • Body language can lead to great misunderstanding between different cultures.

The video tutorial below gives some of the most common examples of body language. More examples are listed under the video.

Body Language Vocabulary: Video Tutorial

A great video to learn some vocabulary for body language communication. A fun video to show that learning vocabulary can be fun!!!


List of Body Language

Below is a list of body language that is common in the west with the common meaning.

Facial Expressions

  • Avoiding eye contact = shy, worried, lying
  • Crinkling nose = disgust
  • Deadpan face (without any expression) = emotionless or hiding feelings
  • Direct eye contact = confidence
  • Eyes staring into the distance = dreamy, not concentrating
  • Pressing lips together (tight lipped) = annoyed, angry
  • Raised eye brows = doubtful, disbelieving
  • Smiling = friendly

Physical Actions

  • Arms behind back, shoulders back = confidence
  • Arms crossed = defensive or insecure but sometimes it means being angry
  • Bowing (bending at the waist) = greeting someone new (in some countries)
  • Biting nails = nervous
  • Blushing (going red in the cheeks) or stammering (speaking with hesitations and repeated letters) = embarrassment
  • Eye rubbing = tired or disbelieving
  • Hands covering gaping mouth = scared
  • Putting arms up with palms facing forward = submission
  • Scratching one’s head = confused
  • Shaking the head = negative, no
  • Shrugging shoulders (moving shoulders up and down) = don’t know, doubt, confused
  • Stroking one’s chin = thinking deeply
  • Nodding head =  agreement, yes
  • Firm handshake = strong and decisive / limp handshake = weak

International Problems with Body Language

Nodding head = In some countries, it means “yes” but in other countries it means “no”. Likewise, a shaking head means “no” in some countries but “yes” in others.

Silence = In the West, this can be negative and be a problem between people. However, in other countries, such as China or Japan, it can be a sign of agreement or femininity.

Personal space = In countries, such as England, people should stand a respectful distance from each other but in other countries, such as Spain, people touch each other when talking. In Japan, the person space is often bigger between people than in England. Respectful space between people changes depending on countries.

Eye Contact = In the West, this is a sign of confidence and is important when listening actively to someone. On the other hand, there are countries where this might be a sign of aggression and confrontation.

Practice Using Body Language Vocabulary

Fill the gaps of these sentences with the suitable words:

1. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then suddenly she asked a question that I couldn’t understand so I just ………….. my shoulders and walked away.

2. My boss always tells tall stories. Yesterday he came to work with another unbelievable story but the only response I could give was to ……….. my eyebrows.

3. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being late. Once I was in a really long meeting at work and by the time we finished I was late to meet my friend. During the meeting, I could feel myself getting impatient and my foot started ……………. on the floor.

4. I can’t stand watching films at the cinema because you can’t relax like you can in private, particularly when watching an action movie full of surprises and shocks. When there is a really sudden unexpected scene, my eyes ………. and my mouth ……… open which I find really embarrassing in public.

5. I remember once I was late for an appointment. When I arrived, which was over 1 hour late, I ………….  deep red and stammered an apology.

  1. shrugged (the answer isn’t “shrugged off” because that means to get rid of – usually a feeling – and does relate to shoulders)
  2. raise
  3. tapping (the answer isn’t stamping because stamping is when you are very angry not impatient)
  4. widen    gapes  (don’t forget the “s”)
  5. blushed


Using vocabulary in IELTS

Q) In what way is body language a form of communication?

A) Well, people use body language to send a message or to indicate something so it is definitely a way to communicate. For example, when people raise their eyebrows, it often means they are incredulous or disbelieving and when they tap their foot on the floor, you know they are impatient. So, using facial expressions and physical actions can communicate things to other people.

Q) Do you think it is possible to misunderstand someone’s body language?

A) Yes, definitely. When someone avoids your eye, it is possible to think that they are avoiding your question and don’t want to talk to you. But really, it might be that they are just shy. So, it’s quite easy to grasp the wrong meaning in people’s actions.

Q) Describe a time you were late for an appointment.

A) I remember, about one month ago, organising to meet someone in the town center at 9pm. Unfortunately, I was delayed because of traffic and didn’t arrive until about 9.30pm. My friend was really mad. She had her arms crossed and was tapping her foot impatiently on the ground. I was so embarrassed and blushed a lot. I stammered my apology but felt really uncomfortable because she was staring at me with angry eyes. Anyway, we sorted out our differences and have been really good friends ever since. (this is an example of part of a talk for speaking part 2 – add details and descriptions)

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Linking Words for IELTS Speaking: Word List & Tips

Here is a list of linking words for your IELTS speaking with tips and models. For speaking you need some simple linking words and natural phrases to help the examiner follow your ideas and stories. These linking words  and signposts are simple and informal on the whole. IELTS writing is different and requires the use of a wide range of linkers.


Adding more information

  • and
  • also
  • as well as
  • another reason is

Time Phrases

You should use signposts to help the listening understand when you are talking about the past or the present.

  • now
  • at the moment
  • at present
  • right now
  • these days
  • nowadays
  • in the past
  • before
  • then
  • at that time
  • years ago
  • when I was younger

Expressing ideas

  • I think one important thing is
  • I guess one difference is
  • I suppose the main difference between X and Y is

Causes and Solutions

  • I guess it’s because
  • The main reason is
  • It was caused by
  • Because
  • I suppose the best way to deal with this problem is
  • I reckon the only answer is to
  • The best way to solve this is

Giving Examples

These connective devices are for giving examples in your answers. The most common and natural to use is “like”. Please note that “like” can’t be used as a linking device in IELTS writing.

  • for example
  • for instance
  • such as
  • like

Being Clear

You use these simple, natural expression to explain your point again more clearly or get your answer back on track.

  • What I mean is
  • What I want to say is
  • As I was saying

Contrasting and concessions

Use these connecting words to compare and contrast or give concessions.

  • but
  • on the other hand
  • while
  • although
  • or

Free PDF Download: Linking words for IELTS Speaking

Examples of Linking Words in Speaking

Look at the following questions and answers. See what linking words are contained in the answers.

Q. Do you eat much fruit?

A. Yes, I do. I love tropical fruit like mangoes and pineapples.

Comments: We would not use “for example” in this type of sentence which relates to our everyday life.

Q. Do you think fast food is bad?

A. Yes, I do. If it is eaten too often, it can cause problems such as heart disease or diabetes. Also, it can lead to weight problems which are really common nowadays.

Comments: You could use “such as” or “for example” in this sentence because the content is more serious. Please note that we don’t use “furthermore” or “in addition” for speaking, instead we use “also” or “and”.

Q. Do children play similar games today that they played in the past?

A. No, I don’t think they do. Before, children used to play simple games like hide and seek or they used to play with simple handmade toys. But, these days, kids tend to prefer computer games and their toys are battery operated. 

Comments: This answer contained time phrases for the past and present “before” and “these days”. It also had an example “like”. “Like” is the main example linking word for speaking and can be repeated again and again. This answer also uses a contrasting linking word “but”. “But” is the main contrasting linking word in speaking and can be repeated many times.

Mistakes with Linking Words in Speaking

The example below will help you understand how not to answer a question with linking words.

Q. Do you like going out with friends?

A. Yes, I do. Firstly, it gives me a chance to relax. Secondly, I can catch up on their news. Last but not least, it allows me the opportunity to visit new places.

Comments: The method of linking is too formal. It is inappropriate and is not a good for a high score.

See below what the answer should be:

A. Yes, I do. It’s great being able to chill out and catch up with their news. Also we often go out to new places which I really enjoy.

Comments: This answer was more natural and would be marked higher in IELTS speaking. The linking words are used appropriately (and / also).

Tips for Linking Devices in IELTS Speaking

  • Don’t use formal linking words for simple questions about yourself and your life.
  • Don’t worry about repeating linking words. This is different to IELTS writing.
  • The most common linking words for speaking are: and, but, because, also, like (for giving examples)
  • “Like” is only used as a linking word to give examples in speaking NOT in writing.
  • You do not get a higher score because used a range of linking devices.
  • Linking words in speaking are just to help the listener understand better.
  • Linking words are used naturally not formally in IELTS speaking.
  • Linking words are part of the criterion of “Fluency and Coherence” which is 25% of your marks.

Linking Devices for IELTS Writing

The following link will provide you with a list of Essential Linking Words for Writing Task 2. For IELTS writing, you MUST use a range of formal linking words in your essay to get a high score. This is applicable to both GT and academic students.

IELTS Speaking Questions

IELTS speaking common questions and topics to practice for your test.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Topics

IELTS Speaking Model Answers and Tips:

IELTS Speaking Page

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Linking Words


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IELTS Speaking Part 2 Quiz: How much do you know?

How much do you know about IELTS speaking part 2? Make sure you understand everything about speaking part 2 before you do your test.


Are the following tips and advice good or bad?

  1. If you don’t know anything about the topic, ask the examiner to give you another cue card.
  2. You must write answers to each question on the cue card during your 1 minute preparation.
  3. You shouldn’t look at your notes while you are giving your talk.
  4. You will get a low score if your talk is boring.
  5. You should only add information to your talk relating to the prompts on your card.
  6. The examiner will interrupt you if you go off topic.
  7. If you don’t speak for 2 minutes, you won’t get a high score.
  8. The examiner is not interested in your grammar in part 2, only in your fluency.
  9. Use plenty of idioms to get a higher score.
  10. You should expand your talk by adding descriptions, details and stories.

All the advice given above is bad except for one. Read the comments below to learn more.

  1. You can’t change your topic. Even if you don’t know much about it, you should still try to talk by adding your own ideas and information.
  2. There are no questions on the speaking part 2 cards. There are prompts on the cards which are only guidelines. You should decide how to write notes in a way that is useful for your talk. The notes are only to help you remember your ideas so you decide if you want to make notes on each prompt or not.
  3. This is really bad advice. Of course you can look at your notes. Your notes will help you remember your ideas. However, don’t look down at your notes all the time. Eye contact with the examiner while you are speaking is important. Just glance at your notes from time to time to help remember ideas.
  4. There is no score for having an interesting talk or a boring talk. However, an interesting talk usually contains a better range of language and for that reason adding interesting details can help.
  5. This is also poor advice. The prompts should be used as guidelines. If you decide not to follow them, it is up to you. Personally, I recommend following them because they provide a useful structure for your talk but you need to add more information to each prompt. It is your choice what extra information you add.
  6. The examiner will not interrupt your talk at all. Once you start talking, the examiner will remain silent until you have finished. Also there is no scoring for being on or off topic in IELTS speaking. You shouldn’t change the topic but you might want to add some interesting details which are not mentioned on your card.
  7. Part of fluency is your ability to speak at length but that doesn’t mean you must speak for 2 minutes. If you only speak for 1.5 minutes but during that time you speak without hesitation, you can still get a high score.
  8. There are four marking criteria in IELTS speaking (fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation). These criteria are scored from your answers to ALL parts of the test. While part 2 is a good chance to show your fluency skills, your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation will still be assessed.
  9. Using idioms is not a sure way to get a high score. Idioms should be used appropriately and correctly and should definitely not be over used.
  10. This is absolutely correct advice. You need to expand your talk by adding more detail and descriptions. This website (IELTS Advantage) has a great strategy for developing your talk. I’m sure you will all find it useful.


Recommended for Speaking Part 2

Recommended IELTS Website

IELTS Advantage: A great website for IELTS tips and strategies.

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Maths: Reported Speaking Topic in May 2015

Maths was a reported IELTS speaking topic this month (May). It is quite common to be asked about your school days and also about the subjects you studied. Below are some questions for this topic for you to prepare and also some useful vocabulary to help you talk in more detail. This topic could also be called “calculations” or “mathematics”.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Questions: Maths

  • Are you good at maths?
  • Did you like mathematics when you were at school?
  • What was your teacher like?
  • What kinds of things did you learn in maths?
  • Did you use a calculator when learned maths?
  • Do you find it difficult to do calculations?
  • How do you calculate difficult sums?
  • Do you think maths is an important subject for children to learn?
  • Why do you think children should learn maths?

Useful language:

  • calculate numbers / data / figures
  • adding up / addition (2 + 4 = 6)
  • subtraction / taking away (6 – 2 = 4)
  • multiplication  / multiplying numbers (multiplying = 2 x 3 = 6)
  • the multiplication table
  • division / dividing (dividing = 6 / 3 = 2)
  • long division (12,000 / 1,500 = 8)
  • estimating powers and roots for positive numbers
  • learning about decimals and fractions (decimal = 0.333 & fraction =  1/3)
  • algebra = learning about using letters and symbols in formulas
  • geometry = calculating angles in triangles or relationships between points on graphs or maps
  • proportions and rates of change
  • maths teaches people how to solve problems
  • maths teaches people how to interpret and understand data
  • maths teaches people how to do simple and complex calculations needed for everyday life

Model Answers

  • Question: Did you like maths when you were at school?
  • Answer: I enjoyed maths at the beginning doing just simple sums but I didn’t like it as much once we progressed on to complex calculations and doing algebra and things like that.
  • Question: Did you use a calculator at school for studying maths?
  • We weren’t allowed a calculator for doing sums or long division and things like that. But we were allowed to use one for geometry and other complex calculations.

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Which part of IELTS speaking is most important?

Are all the parts of the IELTS speaking test equally important?

The IELTS speaking test is graded by your performance in all parts of the test. The examiner will check your English language using the 4 marking criteria for each part of the test.

Speaking Part 1

If you are strong in speaking part 1 but not in the other parts, then you will not get a good score. You must do well in all parts to get a good score.

Most of the questions are quite easy in part 1 and are about yourself or your country. So, doing well in this part is expected for high level students. If you give very short answers, for example “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t”, you are not providing the examiner with a good range of language to assess. So, that means your potential score is not high when you enter part 2 and it will affect your overall score.

Speaking Part 2

In speaking part 2, the examiner has a chance to sit and listen to your English without interrupting. So, giving a short speech of only 1 minute gives you less chance to demonstrate the level of your English and less chance to show fluency. It is still possible to get a good score with only 1 mins or 1.5 mins speech but only if the language you use is very good  and your fluency is very strong during that time.

By the end of speaking part 2, the examiner has a rough idea of your band score. Adding more information and details to each prompt is a way of offering the examiner a broader range of your language ability. Description offers the examiner more vocabulary and fluency. Talking with feeling can offer better intonation. Explaining in detail can offer better sentence structures and grammar. Giving examples of the past and ideas for the future can offer more grammar tenses. Try to find ways to showcase your English in part 2.

Speaking Part 3

In speaking part 3, it is a chance for the examiner to ask more in depth questions which will require more skill in English to answer. The questions are abstract and about the world rather than yourself. This requires a better level of English to answer well.

This is a chance for you to boost your score by providing the examiner with a better range of vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. Giving examples and detailed explanations of your ideas naturally produces better language which will help your score.

Will the examiner decide my score in the test or later on?

Your score will be decided by the examiner who conducts the test and the score will be given at the end of the test. By the end of speaking part 3, the examiner will have decided your score.

Does the examiner have model answers?

No, there are no model answers used for assessing you in the IELTS speaking test. Each student will use different English and give different answers. Your score is only calculated on the English language you produce – the level and range of your English and the accuracy of your English.

If I don’t answer one question, will it affect my score?

If you perform well and produce good English in the other questions, you can still get a good score. Struggling with only one question while the others are fine, should not affect your score adversely.

Will I get a low score if I can’t think of many ideas?

The IELTS speaking test only assess your English language, not your ideas. This is very different to the IELTS writing test. IELTS writing assesses your ideas, your answers, how you develop the ideas and how you present them. IELTS speaking only tests your vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. See below for the band score descriptors.

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Newspapers: IELTS Speaking Questions and Model Answer

Below is a list of questions for newspaper that you can get in IELTS Speaking. There is a sample of questions for each part of the test. Two model answers are given at the bottom of the page.

Newspapers: Part 1 Questions

  • How do you usually get your news?
  • How often do you read the newspaper?
  • What type of news do you prefer to read?
  • Do most people in your country follow the news?
  • How do most people in your country access the news?
  • Do you pay much attention to headlines?
  • Do you think it is important to follow the news?

Newspapers: Part 2 Cue Card

Describe an article in a newspaper you have recent read.

You should say:

  • when you read it
  • where you read it
  • what it was about
  • and explain what you found interesting about it.

Newspapers: Part 3 Questions

  • What’s the difference between a newspaper and a magazine?
  • Why do you think some people only skim read a newspaper?
  • Do you think headlines are important?
  • Which is more important – domestic or international news?
  • How have newspapers changed over the last few decades in your country?
  • Do you think everything we read in newspapers is true?
  • Do you think the government has the right to censor the press?

Model Answers

  • How do you usually get the news?
  • Well, it depends on my day. If I have time I buy a newspaper and read through most of the pages and articles but if I’m short of time, I just go online and take a quick look at the main headlines.
  • What is the difference between a newspaper and a magazine?
  • Well, that’s an interesting question. I suppose one of the main differences is in the publication. What I mean is a newspaper is generally published daily whereas a magazine is published either weekly, monthly or quarterly. So, a newspaper is published more often than a magazine. Another big difference is in the content. A newspaper usually contains a range of subject matter from sports news to weather while a magazine is aimed at a specific target group such as readers who are interested in farming or something like that.



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Reported IELTS Speaking Topic: April 2015

Below is a reported IELTS speaking topic this month with tips and advice about how to answer the questions.

Speaking Part 2: Beautiful Person

Describe a beautiful person that you know.

You should say:

  • who the person is
  • when you met the person
  • where you met this person
  • and explain why you think he/she is beautiful

Speaking Part 3: Beauty

  • What is beauty for you?
  • Do you think the media influences our idea of beauty?
  • Do you think advertisement’s portrayal of beauty is correct?
  • How has people’s idea of beauty changed over the last few decades?
  • Do you think beauty only relates to a person’s appearance?

Tips for Developing Answers and Vocabulary

1. How can I paraphrase the word “beautiful”?

You can paraphrase the word “beautiful” as “attractive” or “good-looking”. For a man, you could also say “handsome” and for a women you could say “pretty”. But the main focus on vocabulary should not be just paraphrasing the word “beautiful”. This topic is full of high level vocabulary for describing people, their particular physical features and their character.

2. How can I expand my answers? What details can I give?

Part 2

For part 2, you need to expand on each prompt by giving more details of how you met the person and the impression you got. Giving a description of the person is a must – not only the physical appearance but also the character. When describing physical appearance it’s good to focus on an aspect of their appearance rather than giving the usual details. For example, “My father has rather startlingly blue eyes. They constantly smile at you and reveal the humour in his character. Many people have said he has intelligent eyes but I would say they are just full of life…“. By describing people in this way, you would get a much higher band score than only saying “he has blue eyes and he’s quite tall” which is what students learn in elementary level. Also tell a little short, possibly about an aspect of their character that you find appealing.

Part 3

For part 3, when expanding what you think is beautiful, it is good to go beyond just appearance and also talk about the way someone moves, for example, gracefully or powerfully. You can also talk about the person’s character or the way they dress. Try to go beyond just talking about physical features.

For media and beauty, it is good to go into detail about how fashion dictates our ideas of beauty and the impact it has on our society, particular on the young generation. This relates to magazines, films, the music industry and social media.

To show how beauty has changed over the years you can describe how women’s figures have changed over the years from the typical “hour glass figure” to the less curvy women’s figure, which is very stick-like, that is considered beautiful today. You can give specific examples, for example of famous female stars over the decades.


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IELTS Speaking Part 1: Camping

Below are some questions and a vocabulary for the topic of camping for IELTS speaking part 1. This topic can come in any part of the test although it is most common in part 1. This is a subtopic from the the topic of holidays.

Questions for Camping Speaking Part 1

  • Do you like camping?
  • Did you ever go camping when you were a child?
  • Is camping popular in your country?
  • Where do most people like to go camping?
  • Why do you think people like to go camping?
  • Do you think camping is popular for both men and women?
  • Why do you think children like to go camping?

Model Answers

Two different ways to answer the same question. Both answers offer the examiner a range of vocabulary suitable for the topic.

  • Question: Do you like camping?
  • Answer: Yes, I do. There’s something really exciting about being out in the forest, sleeping in a tent and cooking food over the campfire. It’s lovely to feel so close to nature. Unfortunately, I don’t get much chance to do it.
  • Answer: No, I don’t. I hate the idea of sleeping in a cramped tent and eating awful camp food. I would much prefer to sleep in a hotel where I had my own bathroom with a power shower. I honestly don’t know why people enjoy it.


Camping Vocabulary

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