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ERIC Number: EJ827372
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 75
ISSN: ISSN-0005-3503
Gesture in Modern Language Teaching and Learning
Orton, Jane
Babel, v42 n2 p12-18, 38 Nov 2007
For decades there have been linguists who proclaimed the significant role of kinesic expression in carrying the meaning of spoken language (e.g. Efron, 1941; Birdwhistell, 1952; Kendon, 1972). Drawing on such studies, there have also been pioneer studies of gesture in second language learning and use (McNeill, 1992; Gullberg, 1998, 2006), and approaches to teaching foreign languages using gestures (Menot, 1970, 1981; Orton et al., 1995; Maxwell, 2002; Taeschner, 2005). Yet to this day, language teaching continues to focus most heavily on the verbal, to a lesser extent on the vocal, and virtually not at all on the kinesic channels of expression. Recent interdisciplinary studies combining neurophysiology, psychology, and linguistics (Kita, 2003; Goldin-Meadow, 2003a; Roth, 2004; Gullberg & Indefrey, 2006) not only confirm the integral role of gesture in natural spoken interaction, but also make evident the significance of gesture in all human learning, in any field. These findings suggest that a quite remarkable rethink is needed about the place of the kinesic in learning, not least in language classrooms. To this end, the essentials of contemporary knowledge about gesture in language use and learning are presented here, and some of the second language pedagogical approaches now being employed to put this knowledge into practice are discussed. As these works show, it is time that the long-neglected domain of kinesics was included in our discourse on teaching and learning languages.
Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations. Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Tel: +61-29351-2022; e-mail:; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A