The Role of Gesture in Second Language Learning: Communication, Acquisition, & Retention

Abstract

Previous research has provided evidence that second language (L2) learners use gesture to enhance spoken communication with interlocutors, and that gesture facilitates L2 word learning. The current study investigates how L2 learners use gesture to communicate in conversational settings, and whether their gesturing in these settings facilitates L2 acquisition beyond the immediate context. The results reveal that L2 learners produce more iconic gestures when their interlocutor is visible, and that gesture production predicts their recall for novel words introduced in conversation. As such, they indicate that conversational gesturing enhances acquisition of the target language more broadly, facilitating L2 communication, acquisition, and retention.


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