Effects of Hand Gestures on Auditory Learning of Second-Language Vowel Length Contrasts Purpose Research has shown that hand gestures affect comprehension and production of speech at semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic levels for both native language and second language (L2). This study investigated a relatively less explored question: Do hand gestures influence auditory learning of an L2 at the segmental phonology level? ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2014
Effects of Hand Gestures on Auditory Learning of Second-Language Vowel Length Contrasts
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Yukari Hirata
    Center for Language and Brain, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  • Spencer D. Kelly
    Center for Language and Brain, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  • Jessica Huang
    Center for Language and Brain, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  • Michael Manansala
    Center for Language and Brain, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Yukari Hirata: yhirata@colgate.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Ewa Jacewicz
    Associate Editor: Ewa Jacewicz×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2014
Effects of Hand Gestures on Auditory Learning of Second-Language Vowel Length Contrasts
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2090-2101. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-14-0049
History: Received February 13, 2014 , Revised June 1, 2014 , Accepted July 19, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2090-2101. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-14-0049
History: Received February 13, 2014; Revised June 1, 2014; Accepted July 19, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Research has shown that hand gestures affect comprehension and production of speech at semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic levels for both native language and second language (L2). This study investigated a relatively less explored question: Do hand gestures influence auditory learning of an L2 at the segmental phonology level?

Method To examine auditory learning of phonemic vowel length contrasts in Japanese, 88 native English-speaking participants took an auditory test before and after one of the following 4 types of training in which they (a) observed an instructor in a video speaking Japanese words while she made syllabic-rhythm hand gesture, (b) produced this gesture with the instructor, (c) observed the instructor speaking those words and her moraic-rhythm hand gesture, or (d) produced the moraic-rhythm gesture with the instructor.

Results All of the training types yielded similar auditory improvement in identifying vowel length contrast. However, observing the syllabic-rhythm hand gesture yielded the most balanced improvement between word-initial and word-final vowels and between slow and fast speaking rates.

Conclusions The overall effect of hand gesture on learning of segmental phonology is limited. Implications for theories of hand gesture are discussed in terms of the role it plays at different linguistic levels.

Acknowledgments
Portions of this study have been presented at the Fifth Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies, Lund, Sweden, July 2012; the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Berlin, Germany, August 2013; and the 167th Annual Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Providence, Rhode Island, May 2014. This study was supported by National Science Foundation Grant 1052765 awarded to Yukari Hirata and Spencer D. Kelly. We thank Carmen Lin, Zach Zhao, April Bailey, and Kristen Weiner for being an integral part of designing stimuli and collecting data.
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