AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Gestures Used by ESL Children to Resolve Lexical

by Elizabeth Michelle Ray

Institution: Ohio University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Linguistics; Gestures; ESL Children; SLA; Lexical Ambiguity; Homonyms; English as a Second Language
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064280
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ohiou1428927667


Gestures are known to precede speech in language development of monolingual children and assist in speech for second language learners of English. However, there is a lack of research on gestures in children learning a second language. This thesis analyzes the types of gestures used by ESL children when retelling stories with lexical ambiguity. This study recruited seven L1 Arabic speaking children from the ages of five to seven with beginner to advanced English proficiencies. The participants were read three different stories that incorporated a pair of homonyms in each story. Then, the subjects retold the stories and were asked to explain the difference in the homonym pairs. This data analysis examined the types of gestures the children used during story retelling, while disambiguating homonyms, and the strategies employed to resolve the lexical ambiguity. The results suggest that the children with lower language abilities use more iconic gestures when they are unable to articulate the words. The older children had more successes resolving the lexical ambiguity using speech alone. The data argues that language proficiency and age related metacognitive abilities play a role in whether children who are second language learners of English can successfully disambiguate homonyms. Advisors/Committee Members: Jarvis, Scott (Advisor).