This contribution focuses on the role of spontaneous gestures in the comprehension of co-occurring phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions by learners of English as a foreign language. The hypothesis at the basis of the work is that iconic gestures may assist in the understanding of semantically opaque expressions not only learners with typical development, but also learners with developmental dyslexia, who tend to have greater difficulty in processing figurative language and pragmatic meanings. An experiment was run covering 11 not-fully compositional verbs and non-transparent idioms as linguistic stimuli accompanied by iconic and metaphoric gestures, which were taken from authentic audio-visual materials. Two groups of Italian students, with and without dyslexia and consisting of 23 members each, from undergraduate courses at the University of Pisa were recruited for the experiment. Each student was exposed to the same stimuli via two different modes, namely audio and video, following different orders of presentation. The results seem to support the initial hypothesis, as highlighted by the better performance elicited through the visual mode where gestures were clearly visible, especially when learners with dyslexia were involved. Consequently, the study provides evidence in favour of a multimodal orientation and use of correlated strategies in the learning/teaching of English as a foreign language in general, and even more so when learners with dyslexia are present.

On the Role of Gestures in the Comprehension of Phrasal Verbs and Idiomatic Expressions in English

Silvia Masi
;
Gianmarco Vignozzi
2022-01-01

Abstract

This contribution focuses on the role of spontaneous gestures in the comprehension of co-occurring phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions by learners of English as a foreign language. The hypothesis at the basis of the work is that iconic gestures may assist in the understanding of semantically opaque expressions not only learners with typical development, but also learners with developmental dyslexia, who tend to have greater difficulty in processing figurative language and pragmatic meanings. An experiment was run covering 11 not-fully compositional verbs and non-transparent idioms as linguistic stimuli accompanied by iconic and metaphoric gestures, which were taken from authentic audio-visual materials. Two groups of Italian students, with and without dyslexia and consisting of 23 members each, from undergraduate courses at the University of Pisa were recruited for the experiment. Each student was exposed to the same stimuli via two different modes, namely audio and video, following different orders of presentation. The results seem to support the initial hypothesis, as highlighted by the better performance elicited through the visual mode where gestures were clearly visible, especially when learners with dyslexia were involved. Consequently, the study provides evidence in favour of a multimodal orientation and use of correlated strategies in the learning/teaching of English as a foreign language in general, and even more so when learners with dyslexia are present.
2022
Masi, Silvia; Vignozzi, Gianmarco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1145533
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