The effect of gestures on second language memorisation by young children
This article examines the impact of gesture on second language memorisation in teaching to very young learners. Twenty French children (mean age 5;5) took part in an experiment. They had to learn eight words in a foreign language (English). One group of children (N = 10) were taught words with pictures and another group (N = 10) words with accompanying gestures. Children in this group had to reproduce the gestures while repeating the words. Results show that gestures and especially their reproduction significantly influence the memorisation of second language (L2) lexical items as far as the active knowledge of the vocabulary is concerned (being able to produce words and not only understand them). This finding is consistent with theories on multimodal storage in memory. When reproduced, gestures not only act as a visual modality but also as a motor modality and thus leave a richer trace in memory.
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