How future language teachers adapt their gestures to their interlocutor
This paper addresses the question of how speakers adapt their gestures according to their interlocutor’s proficiency level in the language of the interaction especially in the specific context of foreign language teaching. We know that speakers make changes in their speech when addressing a non-native speaker, called Foreigner Talk (Ferguson, 1975) to make their speech more comprehensible. However, whether and how gestures are also modified along with speech has hardly been addressed in the literature. In this study, we examined the speech and gesture of future teachers of French in a word explanation task to see what types of adjustments they made when explaining a word to a native speaker and a non-native speaker. We had ten future teachers of French explain the same 12 words to a native and a non-native speaker of French and compared the explanations. We found that the future teachers produced significantly more gestures, significantly longer gestures in duration, significantly more illustrative (iconic and deictic) gestures, and significantly larger gestures when addressing a non-native interlocutor. These results show that native speakers make not only speech adjustments but also gesture adjustments in addressing non-native speakers.
Keywords: gestural accommodation, foreigner talk, gesture, teachers’ gestures, gesture space
Published online: 22 November 2021
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