The Role of gesture and video games in second language acquisition




Barber, Jennifer Lee

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With the growth of recent research on the internal benefits of gesture for second language learners, the emphasis has begun to shift away from the traditional focus on addressee-related benefits. The current study explores student-student interactions which reflect internal benefits during face-to-face video game play. Data was collected in the conference room at a local Victoria high school and involved 7 participants; 6 English as a Second Language students and one native English speaker. Using discourse analysis as a method of data analysis, Long’s social constructivist model is taken as the grounded theory whereby it is thought that learners construct their new language through interaction that is socially mediated (Brown, 2007). The database is composed of videotaped sessions where student dyads, in a laddered consecutive order, take turns first as ‘novice’ gamers when learning how to play and then teaching in the next dyad. Each dyad experienced 5 minutes of instruction, 10 minutes of game play and 10 minutes of reflection about the game using a set number of questions. Videotapes of participants and transcripts were later examined and re-examined for face and body gestures, signs of social bonding as well as different types and uses of vocabulary. Two dyads emerged as having the most interesting results on almost all measures. These dyads both displayed a high number of gestures, vocabulary, mimicking and simultaneous gesturing. These findings reflect the potential utility of using student gesture to predict and gauge learner readiness, engagement and learning. This study has implications for both the instruction and learning of a second language as well as the use of interactive media and even video games for educational purposes. In addition, it contributes to the understanding of student-student interaction and the social construction of learning English as a second language.



Second Language Acquisition, ESL, Video games