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How To Learn Sign Language

5 Common Gestures in North American Communication


Hi, everyone. Today we’re going to look at five gestures that are commonly used in North American conversation. Extra English Practice A gesture is something you do with your
hands or parts of your body or maybe your face, or maybe a combination of those things, that has a particular meaning. This is an aspect of nonverbal communication. So when you’re communicating with someone, you use your words — that’s verbal communication, but you also use your body. And there are some gestures or actions that we use in our culture that, if you understand, might help you understand people better. So the first one we’re calling THE CHIN NOD. Mm-hmm. And it goes a little something like this.. This one really means “what’s up?”, “what’s happening?”, “how are you?”, “hey”. It’s mainly a greeting. So if you don’t want to use your words, or if you’re seeing someone from a distance, you can just greet them by raising your chin a little. Mm-hmm. We’ll show you a couple of examples. Hey, Larissa. Larissa! Hey! Hi! The next gesture we’re looking at we’re
going to call THE PHEW gesture. It looks like this. It often has that little sound with it. [phew] This gesture means that you’re relieved about something, so you’re happy that something bad didn’t happen. Here are a couple of examples. Hey, Larissa. [gasp] Oh! [phew] Misha, watcha doing? Oh, man, I’m studying for the huge test we have tomorrow! Didn’t you hear? It was canceled! Oh! [phew] That’s a relief! Alright, onto the third gesture. This one looks like this… We do this one when we’re feeling embarrassed, so maybe somebody has done something or WE have done something, it doesn’t matter, (yeah) but we’re feeling kind of sheepish and embarrassed about it so we’re trying to hide our face so people don’t …don’t know it was us and can’t see us, (yeah) and maybe we’re trying to hide that we’re turning pink a little bit. Mmm. Should we look at some examples? Uhhhh, hey, Misha? Yeah, what’s up? Did you … notice….? [gasp, groan] [in background: Yoo hoo! Larissa! OOO, hoo, hey! Larissa! Yo ho, hey oh oh!] Hey, isn’t that your sister? [laughs] She’s loud! Okay, our next gesture is when we roll our eyes. This is really common in our culture, especially among teenagers. It looks like this. Sometimes.. sometimes you do a whole tilt of your head with the eye roll if you really mean it. If you wanna be very dramatic! [laughter] But it can also be subtle, like this… (mm hmm) In general, this means that you’re annoyed with someone or angry about something or you think someone is lying or don’t believe them. It means a whole lot of things. It does. It’s pretty useful. It’s useful, yeah. I use it probably every day. Woah, every day? Yeah. Here are some examples. Hey Larissa, that test last week was SO hard, right? Oh, I know! I didn’t pass. Yeah, I had a really hard time, too. Tom told me that he didn’t even study and he got a hundred percent. [sigh] I know he’s such a liar. Hey, Misha, did you see our favorite TV show last night? No, I haven’t watched it yet, so don’t tell me. Ok, I won’t tell you anything important, but just this one thing! No, no, Larissa! You won’t believe it, it’s unbelievable! Don’t TELL me about it! The last gesture we want to look at is one you’ve probably seen before. It’s the HIGH FIVE. We use this when we’re celebrating, so after someone has done a good job or has been successful, we celebrate with a high five. It’s very important if someone does this to you, you hit their hand, because if you don’t, it’s called leaving someone hanging, and it’s very embarrassing and culturally unacceptable. Unless you’re trying to make them feel silly. Yeah. But in general, you don’t leave someone hanging. Yeah, it’s rude. That’s right, Larissa. Yeah! Okay, here are some examples. Watch this — I’m gonna get this ball in that basket. No way! I’m going to, watch! Alright, let’s see. What?! Whoo!! Oh, nice! Sometimes, if you want to celebrate, but you’re not sure the other person knows, you can ask by saying, “Give me five!” Mm-hmm. Hey, Misha, give me five! Sometimes people also say “up high” or “high five”. Hey, Larissa, up high! High five! So those were five examples of some gestures you might see when you interact with English speakers in North America. Try them out and be aware of them when you see them going on. Mm-hmm. Also we would love to hear about gestures that are used in your culture, so tell us about them in the comments below. We look forward to hearing them! I think it’s so funny! Hey, Misha, did you hear that the [nonsense mumbles]. What DID i hear? I didn’t hear that! Okay, here we go again. ROLL!

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