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Gesture as a Communication Strategy in Second Language Discourse : A Study of Learners of French and Swedish

Gullberg, Marianne LU (1998) In Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund 35.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish
Gester betraktas ofta populärt som det mest typiska sättet för språkinlärare att lösa kommunikativa problem. Trots det har gester sällan studerats inom ramen för teorier som rör bruket eller inlärningen av andraspråk. Den här studien avser att redogöra för hur andraspråksinlärare använder spontana eller koverbala gester som kommunikationsstrategier. Gester klassificeras och analyseras som likvärdiga med muntliga lösningar på kommunikativa problem inom en teoretisk ram som kombinerar en processinriktad teori för kommunikationsstrategier med en kognitiv teori för gestproduktion.

Två empiriska studier presenteras. Produktionsstudien undersöker svenska inlärare av franska och franska inlärare av... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish
Gester betraktas ofta populärt som det mest typiska sättet för språkinlärare att lösa kommunikativa problem. Trots det har gester sällan studerats inom ramen för teorier som rör bruket eller inlärningen av andraspråk. Den här studien avser att redogöra för hur andraspråksinlärare använder spontana eller koverbala gester som kommunikationsstrategier. Gester klassificeras och analyseras som likvärdiga med muntliga lösningar på kommunikativa problem inom en teoretisk ram som kombinerar en processinriktad teori för kommunikationsstrategier med en kognitiv teori för gestproduktion.

Två empiriska studier presenteras. Produktionsstudien undersöker svenska inlärare av franska och franska inlärare av svenska och deras strategiska användning av gester. Resultaten, som är baserade på analyser av individuellt beteende såväl som av grupper, motsäger både populära föreställningar och teoretiskt grundade förväntningar. Inlärare ersätter inte tal med gester, utan kompletterar istället sin muntliga produktion med gester. Gester används inte heller enbart mimetiskt för att lösa lexikala problem, utan mera abstrakta gester utnyttjas för att upprättahålla sammanhang och koreferens, samt för att kommentera själva kommunikationssituationen. I analysen diskuteras det inflytande som språknivå, kulturell tillhörighet och kommunikativ kompetens utövar på gestbruket, och muntliga och gestuella kommunikationsstrategier jämförs därvid. Den andra studien undersöker infödda lyssnares bedömning av inlärarnas gester, samt även den effekt dessa gester har på bedömningen av inlärarnas språkliga kunskapsnivå. En avgörande faktor som berörs är inlärarnas individuella kommunikativa stil.

Gester fungerar således som kommunikativ kompensation på flera nivåer. För att gester skall kunna inlemmas i existerande teorier om kommunikationsstrategier, behöver dessa expanderas till att omfatta både kognitiva och sociala faktorer. (Less)
Abstract
Gesture is always mentioned in descriptions of compensatory behaviour in second language discourse, yet it has never been adequately integrated into any theory of Communication Strategies (CSs). This study suggests a method for achieving such an integration. By combining a cognitive theory of speech-associated gestures with a process-oriented framework for CSs, gesture and speech can be seen as reflections of similar underlying processes with different output modes. This approach allows oral and gestural CSs to be classified and analysed within a unified framework. The respective fields are presented in introductory surveys, and a review is provided of studies dealing specifically with compensatory gesture–in aphasia as well as in first... (More)
Gesture is always mentioned in descriptions of compensatory behaviour in second language discourse, yet it has never been adequately integrated into any theory of Communication Strategies (CSs). This study suggests a method for achieving such an integration. By combining a cognitive theory of speech-associated gestures with a process-oriented framework for CSs, gesture and speech can be seen as reflections of similar underlying processes with different output modes. This approach allows oral and gestural CSs to be classified and analysed within a unified framework. The respective fields are presented in introductory surveys, and a review is provided of studies dealing specifically with compensatory gesture–in aphasia as well as in first and second language acquisition.



The experimental part of this work consists of two studies. The production study examines the gestures exploited strategically by Swedish learners of French and French learners of Swedish. The subjects retold a cartoon story in their foreign language to native speakers in conversational narratives. To enable comparisons between learners and proficiency conditions both at individual and group level, subjects performed the task in both their first and their second language. The results show that, contrary to expectations in both fields, strategic gestures do not replace speech, but complement it. Moreover, although strategic gestures are used to solve lexical problems by depicting referential features, most learner gestures instead serve either to maintain visual co-reference at discourse level, or to provide metalinguistic comments on the communicative act itself. These latter functions have hitherto been ignored in CS research. Both similarities and differences can be found between oral and gestural CSs regarding the effect of proficiency, culture, task, and success. The influence of individual communicative style and strategic communicative competence is also discussed. Finally, native listeners’ gestural behaviour is shown to be related to the co-operative effort invested by them to ensure continued interaction, which in turn depends on the proficiency levels of the non-native narrators.



The evaluation study investigates native speakers’ assessments of subjects’ gestures, and the effect of gestures on evaluations of proficiency. Native speakers rank all subjects as showing normal or reduced gesture rates and ranges–irrespective of proficiency condition. The influence of gestures on proficiency assessments is modest, but tends to be positive. The results concerning the effectiveness of gestural strategies are inconclusive, however. When exposed to auditory learner data only, listeners believe gestures would improve comprehension, but when learner gestures can be seen, they are not regarded as helpful. This study stresses the need to further examine the effect of strategic behaviour on assessments, and the perception of gestures in interaction.



An integrated theory of Communication Strategies has to consider that gestures operate in two ways: as local measures of communicative ‘first-aid’, and as global communication enhancement for speakers and listeners alike. A probabilistic framework is outlined, where variability in performance as well as psycholinguistic and interactional aspects of gesture use are taken into account. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Dr Engberg-Pedersen, Elisabeth, Dept of Linguistics, Copenhagen University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
second language acquisition, communication strategies, applied linguistics, gestures, Lingvistik, Linguistics, French, Swedish
in
Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund
volume
35
pages
254 pages
publisher
Lund University Press
defense location
Samarkand, Akademiska Föreningen
defense date
1998-02-14 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUHSDF/HSLA--98/1011--SE254
ISSN
0347-2558
ISBN
91-7966-508-X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c9fbfb5a-c9fc-45d2-8d8a-eb84b42aaa06 (old id 18684)
date added to LUP
2007-05-24 13:23:59
date last changed
2017-02-22 09:59:18
@phdthesis{c9fbfb5a-c9fc-45d2-8d8a-eb84b42aaa06,
  abstract     = {Gesture is always mentioned in descriptions of compensatory behaviour in second language discourse, yet it has never been adequately integrated into any theory of Communication Strategies (CSs). This study suggests a method for achieving such an integration. By combining a cognitive theory of speech-associated gestures with a process-oriented framework for CSs, gesture and speech can be seen as reflections of similar underlying processes with different output modes. This approach allows oral and gestural CSs to be classified and analysed within a unified framework. The respective fields are presented in introductory surveys, and a review is provided of studies dealing specifically with compensatory gesture–in aphasia as well as in first and second language acquisition.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The experimental part of this work consists of two studies. The production study examines the gestures exploited strategically by Swedish learners of French and French learners of Swedish. The subjects retold a cartoon story in their foreign language to native speakers in conversational narratives. To enable comparisons between learners and proficiency conditions both at individual and group level, subjects performed the task in both their first and their second language. The results show that, contrary to expectations in both fields, strategic gestures do not replace speech, but complement it. Moreover, although strategic gestures are used to solve lexical problems by depicting referential features, most learner gestures instead serve either to maintain visual co-reference at discourse level, or to provide metalinguistic comments on the communicative act itself. These latter functions have hitherto been ignored in CS research. Both similarities and differences can be found between oral and gestural CSs regarding the effect of proficiency, culture, task, and success. The influence of individual communicative style and strategic communicative competence is also discussed. Finally, native listeners’ gestural behaviour is shown to be related to the co-operative effort invested by them to ensure continued interaction, which in turn depends on the proficiency levels of the non-native narrators.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The evaluation study investigates native speakers’ assessments of subjects’ gestures, and the effect of gestures on evaluations of proficiency. Native speakers rank all subjects as showing normal or reduced gesture rates and ranges–irrespective of proficiency condition. The influence of gestures on proficiency assessments is modest, but tends to be positive. The results concerning the effectiveness of gestural strategies are inconclusive, however. When exposed to auditory learner data only, listeners believe gestures would improve comprehension, but when learner gestures can be seen, they are not regarded as helpful. This study stresses the need to further examine the effect of strategic behaviour on assessments, and the perception of gestures in interaction.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
An integrated theory of Communication Strategies has to consider that gestures operate in two ways: as local measures of communicative ‘first-aid’, and as global communication enhancement for speakers and listeners alike. A probabilistic framework is outlined, where variability in performance as well as psycholinguistic and interactional aspects of gesture use are taken into account.},
  author       = {Gullberg, Marianne},
  isbn         = {91-7966-508-X},
  issn         = {0347-2558},
  keyword      = {second language acquisition,communication strategies,applied linguistics,gestures,Lingvistik,Linguistics,French,Swedish},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {254},
  publisher    = {Lund University Press},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund},
  title        = {Gesture as a Communication Strategy in Second Language Discourse : A Study of Learners of French and Swedish},
  volume       = {35},
  year         = {1998},
}