Learnings from a second language speaker: conclusions observations from gestures.

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Gestures in second language (L2) learners, meaning-making hand and arm movements co-occurring with speech, are still not well understood, including how gestures develop in language learners, what their functions are and how they are processed. This paper presents additional information based on the results of a longitudinal in-depth study of the gestures of one English L2 speaker.

Most existing gesture studies tend to focus on referential gestures and only provide a static snapshot of gestures at a specific proficiency point. With this cross-sectional information, it is not possible to understand how students are progressing in their processing of the FL. Previous studies have mostly compared referential gestures in the L2 with those in the mother tongue (L1), and the interference from one language to the other (Kita, 2009). There are few studies as to how gestures in general, and not just referential ones, develop within adult language learners in the L2. This question can only be answered by longitudinal studies following individuals as they improve their proficiency, which has only been done in a handful of cases (Saddour, 2017; Stam, 2015).

This paper provides additional insights as to how gestures develop with proficiency in our participant, in particular gestures with pragmatic functions. These include beats but also a number of recurrent gestures which can be observed in both the L1 and the L2. The overall observation is that there is an increase in gestures with a metadiscursive (pragmatic) function as proficiency increases. However, we expect these to decrease with further proficiency, as they are not so frequent in the L1. As this pattern has been observed in other L2 learners (study in progress), we will present some hypotheses as to why this could be, together with its implications for L2 pedagogues.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusNot published / presented only - Jun 2021
EventLSPPC6 - City University, Hong Kong., Hong Kong
Duration: 3 Jun 20215 Jun 2021
Conference number: 6


Abbreviated titleLSPPC
CityHong Kong
Internet address


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