Learning abstract versus concrete words in a second language: the effect of gesture.

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In an increasingly globalized and, as a result, multilingual world as we live in today, the need for speaking multiple languages continues to grow. The growing demand for proficiency in a second language asks for methods to facilitate second language learning. One opportunity to do so can be derived from the Dual Coding Theory (DCT), suggesting that the simultaneous use of verbal and non-verbal stimuli will benefit memory and recall (Clark & Paivio, 1991). Following this line of reasoning, the use of gestures during the process of second language acquisition should facilitate learning. Using a 2x2 mixed design, this study aimed to examine the effect of gesture in learning concrete versus abstract words in a second language. The results of this study indicated that Type of word does not matter for participants who did not see any gestures during learning. When gestures were used, however, participants were significantly better in remembering concrete words as compared to abstract words. These results may contribute to the optimization of L2 vocabulary learning processes in classroom settings.
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