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Academic Paper

Title: The effect of bilingualism on the use of manual gestures
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: Gestures are often used while speaking to aid in the speaker's packaging of the verbal message and/or to aid the listener in decoding the message. The ways in which bilinguals use gestures are reviewed in this article. Researchers have predicted that bilinguals' gesture use is related to bilinguals' language proficiency. However, no clear pattern of a link between proficiency and gesture use has been observed across studies, probably because gestures rarely compensate for weak language proficiency, functioning instead to facilitate speech production in both first and second language use. Researchers have reported bilinguals using language-specific gestures in the other language. In addition, bilinguals have been shown to use gestures at a higher rate than monolinguals. These results suggest that cross-linguistic transfer can apply to gestures, as well as to other linguistic units. In conclusion, gestures play an important role in accessing language in the process of speech production. This conclusion has implications for second-language teaching; teaching through gestures and speech might be more effective than teaching the spoken component alone.


This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 28, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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