Welcome back. Hope you had a nice, gloriously sunny bank holiday. Last week I went off at a bit of a tangent, talking about the importance of ‘Comprehensible Input’, a theory thought to be at the heart of how a foreign language is learned or acquired. I make no apologies for this. J I know you’ll have found it interesting and hopefully, reassuring. Now, this week I want to look at the area of ‘personal space’. In English we have the expression: ‘to keep someone at arm’s length’. If you’re not 100% sure about this, it means, ‘don’t let this person get too close to you’. As you probably know, distance between people can differ depending on nationality. For example, I discovered that someone from the USA is quite happy to stand closer to you than is a British person.
Consequently, at a U.S. Embassy ball once, (yes, I have been to one) the Brits and the Americans were doing a kind of non-choreographed dance together as they put the world to rights. Each time the American moved closer, into their ideal space, the Brit moved back to re-establish theirs! Very funny to watch, (from a distance!) In Egypt it was quite disconcerting for a ‘repressed’ Brit to find out that Egyptians were perfectly happy to take your hand as you walked down the street! Next week we’ll look at how some people use language to establish this ‘distance’.