The effect of gesture use on L2 word comprehension.

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This study investigated the effect of gesture use on second language vocabulary learning and aimed at answering the following research question: ’To what extent does gesture use facilitate L2 word comprehension?’ In order to find an answer to this question, a total of 66 native Dutch speakers between 19 and 25 years old were randomly assigned to 3 different conditions: viewing gestures, repeating gestures and no gestures. The experiment was conducted online using Qualtrics and the participants were asked to learn 7 Slovakian verbs and 7 Slovakian nouns. Each condition contained a video with two instructors, one Dutch instructor and one Slovakian instructor. These instructors pronounced the Dutch words with their Slovakian translations and, depending on the condition, showed the corresponding hand gestures. The results of a word-recall test showed that verbs were better comprehended than nouns in the gestures viewing condition than in the other two conditions. Additionally, it was found that, contrary to the expectations, repeating the gestures did not improve L2 word comprehension more than just viewing the gestures. The analysis showed that the verbs were significantly better remembered while viewing the gestures than when repeating the gestures. On top of that, this condition scored the lowest average means, even lower than the no gesture condition.
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