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Hands-on second language acquisition


Time frame

February 2018- ongoing

Project description

Previous work has shown that spoken language and hand gestures are closely related. This project uses the close relationship between speech and gesture by studying the use of gesture in second language acquisition. We focus on the production and perception of (supra)segmental features of L2 speech and ask questions such as: Can (a particular type of) hand gestures help learners sound more native-like in the second language, for example with regard to pronunciation or use of lexical stress? Does it matter whether L2 learners only see a gesture or whether they also produce a gesture during learning? What is the role of individual differences, for examples with regard to musicality or working memory, in this process? Results thus far show that gestures may be a useful tool in the L2 learning process, but that their exact usefulness depends on specific contexts. For example, a particular type of gesture may facilitate the acquisition of one kind of phoneme but not another. Our aim is to determine in which cases L2 acquisition classes should be more “hands-on”.


Gesture, second language acquisition, prosody


Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University


Dr Marieke Hoetjes, marieke.hoetjes@ru.nl