The Internet is a wonderful place for ESL students. Those who are looking for intriguing listening activities have access to countless videos, podcasts, and lessons. The website TED is a particularly excellent resource for speeches on many topics, but one that really sticks out for us is Amy Cuddy’s talk titled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” Not only is this speech intriguing, it is also an excellent source of formal vocabulary words that are useful to English learners and those studying for ESL exams like the CAE, FCE, IELTS, or TOEFL tests: Cuddy’s message is a mix of inspiration and wisdom that is of particular interest to test-takers.

Before you listen, ask yourself these questions:

1. How important do you think body language is?

2. Do you consider yourself to have good posture?

3. Have you ever felt as if you were in a job or class that you were not qualified for? How did this affect how you acted?

4. What advice would you give to someone before they went on an interview?

Here are some vocabulary words that might improve your listening skills.

  • life hack: something simple you can do to make your life easier.
  • unfolds: figuratively, this means how something happens.
  • awkward: uncomfortable
  • valid: acceptable
  • sweeping judgments: quick judgments
  • incompetent: unable to do a task
  • inevitable: unavoidable
  • outcome: the ending; final result
  • collaborator: a person working with another on a project
  • primates: animals in the same family as monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.
  • assertive: not afraid to express opinion or disagree
  • fake it: pretend

What do you think? Can body language shape who you are? We think this is great behavior to adopt before taking an English exam. Fake it until you make it . . . and help improve your score!