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Learning nouns and verbs in a foreign language: The role of gestures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2018

University of Granada, Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC), Granada, Spain
University of Granada, Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC), Granada, Spain
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Pedro Macizo, Departamento de Psicología Experimental, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Granada, Campus de Cartuja, s/n. 18071, Granada, Spain. E-mail:


We evaluated the impact of gestures on second language (L2) vocabulary learning with nouns (Experiment 1) and verbs (Experiment 2). Four training methods were compared: the learning of L2 words with congruent gestures, incongruent gestures, meaningless gestures, and no gestures. Better vocabulary learning was found in both experiments when participants learned L2 words with congruent gestures relative to the no gesture condition. This result indicates that gestures have a positive effect on L2 learning when there is a match between the word meaning and the gesture. However, the recall of words in the incongruent and meaningless gesture conditions was lower than that of the no gesture condition. This suggests that gestures might have a negative impact on L2 learning. The facilitation and interference effects we found with the use of gestures in L2 vocabulary acquisition are discussed.

Original Article
© Cambridge University Press 2018 

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