Research Bites: Gesture and Pronunciation

Smotrova, T. (2015), Making pronunciation visible: Gesture in teaching pronunciation. TESOL Quarterly.

Research shows that body movement and speech are intimately linked, with some theorizing that they are from the same cognitive source. Whether this is true or not, what is known is that body movements and speech are unconsciously coordinated and that these gestures are not random but coordinate to meaning. What is also known is that gesture often occurs alongside not only conversation but instruction in the classroom. Smotrova first looks at how gesture has been used in pronunciation teaching, pointing out it is one of the least researched aspects of language instruction. Clapping, rubber bands, mirroring and imitation, and even some gesture-systems such as the “essential, haptic-integrated English pronunciation (EHIEP) framework“, have been employed in pronunciation teaching, many of which have been shown to be effective. However, overall there is a paucity of research in this area. In this article, Smotrova analyzed gestures as they occurred in a classroom during pronunciation instruction. Her analysis is in-depth and concludes with two important implications: 1) teachers should be made aware of the importance of gestures and utilize them, perhaps systematically, in their instruction; and 2) students should use the teacher’s gestures because they are beneficial and effective to their learning.

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One thought on “Research Bites: Gesture and Pronunciation

  1. Thanks for sharing this Anthony. I know that when I’m modelling separate phonemes for students, and especially when I’m contrasting one phoneme with another, I almost always have accompanying gestures to highlight the differences between them. One day that will be a blogpost 🙂

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