How the French interpret gestures

door Regina Coeli

Picture yourself at work discussing a project plan with your French colleague. He compliments you on the ingenious discovery you’ve just made. To signal that you, too, are amazed at your own contribution to the discussion, you put your forefinger to the side of your head. Hopefully your facial expression is friendly so that your colleague understands that the gesture is meant positively. In France, this same gesture would come across as something like ‘Are you out of your mind?’

Differences in social and professional interaction

Non-verbal communication differs from country to country and this is often one of the reasons why intercultural communication is such a challenge. Even between neighbouring countries, such as the Netherlands and France, there are big differences in the way we interact socially and professionally, which explains why a simple discussion can take an unexpected turn, quite unintentionally.

Another gesture that confuses the French is the one the Dutch (mostly children) make to indicate that they like food they are eating. In France the same gesture means that you’re about to get a good spanking!

Close link between language and culture

Verbal and non-verbal communication are very closely linked. So, too, are language and culture. All these aspects are discussed in one-to-one lessons with language trainers during our intensive language training courses at Regina Coeli.


Interested in following language training at Regina Coeli?

The Regina Coeli method ensures that you learn to speak a foreign language quickly and effectively. Our highly qualified trainers teach you the skills, vocabulary and grammar that you need for your specific situation so you can immediately start communicating in the language.

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