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Developing Guidelines To Design Gestures For Teaching Chinese As A Second Language

3218 words - 13 pages

Developing Guidelines to Design Gestures for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language
From the Perspectives of Kinesics and Linguistics

Yihan Zhou
Seton Hall University


According to kinesics and linguistic theories, this project investigates what parts are involved in making gestures and how gestures carry meanings. A wide range of body parts are involved in making a gesture. According to David Mcneill, the physical movements acquire meaning by iconics, metaphorics, deictics, and beats. The project also discovers an etymological way to connect gestures to Chinese vocabulary. Based on the findings, the project further develops some guidelines to design gestures for teaching ...view middle of the document...

Green (1968) composed a gesture inventory for teaching Spanish which contains gestures with illustrations and explanations.
2.2 Research purpose and significance
In the light of the close connection between gestures and language, an increasing number of papers further indicate that gestures are conducive to learning foreign languages. However, insufficient efforts are made to explore how to apply those principles into foreign language teaching, i.e., teaching vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. How to tailor the sophisticated theories to classroom practices becomes a key problem. Also, as a less-commonly taught language, Chinese receives less attention of the researchers as compared with English, Spanish, and French. Such a background promotes the research project. This paper intends to answer three questions:
1. What part of Chinese language and culture can be taught with gestures?
2. How to apply gestures into teaching Chinese?
3. Is applying gestures into teaching Chinese different from applying gestures into teaching other languages?

Significance of the project includes the followings: first of all, the application of gestures into teaching Chinese will facilitate students’ learning. Secondly, it enhances students’ non-verbal communication skills; finally, it may be a supplement to the Total Physical Response method with regard to connecting gestures to speech.
2.3 Research design
The research project is a qualitative study, using literature review as the main research method. The research process contains four steps: literature review, developing guidelines, designing gestures and application. The article explores the physical components of gestures according to and how the physical movements carry the meanings based on kinesics and linguistic research. Next, it analyses the foreign language class settings. Then, by fitting the theories to practice, it develops guidelines to design gestures for teaching Chinese. In the end, it applies the guidelines into designing activities for teaching Chinese with gestures.

2. Literature review
3.4 Defining gestures
Gestures sometimes are also called body language, non-verbal communication, and kinesics. These terminologies are overlapping and confusing. Therefore, a definition of gestures is needed.
Adam Kendon(1988) first distinguished the general gestures. Mcneill(1992) lined up Kendon’s differentiations on a continuum and termed it as “Kendon’s continuum”. The Kendon’s continuum includes the following parts: gesticulation, speech-linked gestures, pantomimes, emblems, and sign language. Mcneill offered a detailed explanation:
Gesticulation is motion that embodies a meaning relatable to the accompanying speech. Gesticulation is by far the most frequent type of gesture in daily use.
Speech-linked gestures are parts of sentences themselves. Such gestures occupy a grammatical slot in a sentence where the gesture completes the sentence...

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