5-speed listening (Smiling Classes - Level 3)

Smiling lessons in Japan after years of mask-wearing



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People in most countries have stopped wearing masks. In Japan, many people are still covering up. Some of those who have gone maskless, or who want to, are taking lessons in how to smile. A lot of adults say they have "forgotten" how to smile naturally after three years of wearing a face covering. They are taking lessons from "smile coaches" to relearn how to smile with confidence. One coach, Keiko Kawano from a "smile education" company, spoke to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper about her work. She said: "Mask wearing became normal, so people had fewer opportunities to smile. Many people developed a complex about smiling. I want people to smile for their physical and mental wellbeing."

Smile coaches in Japan may be busy for some time to come. A recent survey by Laibo Research found that 27.8% of company employees in their 20s to 50s would continue to wear masks. Just over two-thirds of people said they would wear a mask depending on the situation. Only 5.5% said they would go mask-free. Ms Kawano is well known in Japan. She has coached more than 4,000 people in the art of smiling. She has also trained hundreds of "smile specialists". She said: "Smiling makes a good impression on others and helps communication. It also has the effect of making yourself feel more positive." She added: "Moving and relaxing the facial muscles is the key to a good smile."

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