- Mar 2022
S CLEAR THAT spontaneous gestures can support intelligent thinking. There’salso a place for what we might call designed gestures: that is, motions that arecarefully formulated in advance to convey a particular notion. Geologist MicheleCooke’s gestures, inspired by sign language, fall into this category; she verydeliberately uses hand movements to help students understand spatial conceptsthat are difficult to communicate in words.
There are two potential axes for gestures: spontaneous and intentional. Intentional gestures include examples like sign language, memetic pantomimes, and dance or related animal mimicry gestures used by indigenous cultures for communicating the movement and behavior of animals.
Intentional gestures can also be specifically designed for pedagogical purposes as well as for mnemonic purposes.
cross reference to Lynne Kelly example about movement/gesture in indigenous cultures.
Cooke often employs a modified form of sign language with her (hearing)students at UMass. By using her hands, Cooke finds, she can accurately capturethe three-dimensional nature of the phenomena she’s explaining.
Can gesturing during (second) language learning help dramatically improve the speed and facility of the second language acquisition by adult learners?
Evidence in language acquisition in children quoted previously in The Extended Mind would indicate yes.
link this related research
People who are fluent in sign language, as Cooke is, have beenfound to have an enhanced ability to process visual and spatial information. Suchsuperior performance is exhibited by hearing people who know sign language, aswell as by the hearing impaired—suggesting that it is the repeated use of astructured system of meaning-bearing gestures that helps improve spatialthinking.
Evidence indicates that those who are have experience or fluency in sign language (both hearing and non-hearing) have increased visual-spatial intelligence and reasoning. Practice using gesturing directly improves spatial thinking.
Children can typically understand and act on a request to point to theirnose, for example, a full six months before they are able to form the spokenword “nose.”
Many children are also able to begin using sign language for their needs prior to being able to use spoken language as well.
- spatial fluency
- language acquisition
- child development
- spatial relationships
- intentional gestures
- spontaneous gestures
- spatial thinking
- sign language
- mnemonic devices
- language pedagogy
- Jan 2019
power of words to represent preexistingthings
Sign vs. Symbol distinction -- crucial in understanding language.