Iconic Gestures boost Language Acquisition

22Jan12

Do you know what an Iconic Gesture* is?  Take the poll first:

Yes indeed…gestures are physical movements expressing verbal speech.  You know….giving someone a thumbs up or an Okay sign….fist in the air to show urgency…and even  vulgar hand gestures succinctly convey verbal meaning!  So, why should we be using our hands to support our verbal cues?  To enhance communication of course!  Communication is both the sharing and receiving of communication, so why not make sharing the information more efficient?  That is what a gesture does!  Makes learning/understanding efficient!

One picture may be worth a thousand words, but one gesture is a time-saving and almost instantaneous representation of  verbal explanation.  A baby may not be able to ‘tell their mother that the milk is too hot, but with a learned gesture (or the iconic shake of the hand in front of mouth), the baby can efficiently (before a burn occurs) tell the mother that the milk is too hot without words.

Regarding boosting Language Acquisition, it is so beneficial to learn a language through the addition of gestures supporting vocabulary.  Teaching the word “cut” or “scissors” could be supported with a hand movement of two fingers taking the action of the cutting.  Efficient.  It is just good teaching–it supports verbal language understanding.   Would you really want to make sure a student master the word scissors before teaching them how to use them?  The poll answer is the second one:  physical action to display verbal expression.

*Iconic gestures can differ culturally
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