On the role of gesture in microgenetic development of L2 grammar
Though gesture is a growing area in second language research, its role in the teaching and learning of grammar remains on the margins. Drawing from Sociocultural Theory, the present case study addresses this gap by offering a microgenetic analysis of an ESL learner’s developing understanding of the progressive aspect. Our analysis is threefold. First, we observe how the learner’s gesture reveals her initial understanding of the progressive aspect. This is followed by study of the learner’s appropriation of the teacher’s gesture for the progressive aspect. Finally, we examine the crucial ways in which the learner’s gesture differs from the teacher’s, arguing that the learner merged her initial understanding and the teacher’s gesture, instead of merely copying the teacher. We contend that gesture should not be regarded as supplementary to speech but as an indispensable window into the learning process that may not be accessible through the verbal channel alone.
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