Gesture and Speech in the Vocabulary Explanations of One ESL Teacher: A Microanalytic Inquiry


  • This research was supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota through a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship, a Faculty Summer Research Fellowship, and a McKnight Summer Fellowship. I appreciate the detailed feedback of three anonymous reviewers, as well as input and advice from Andrew Cohen, Elaine Tarone, and Noriko Ishihara. Any remaining errors of omission or commission are mine alone.

Anne Lazaraton, ESL/ILES, 215 Nolte Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Internet:


This article takes a microanalytic perspective on the speech and gestures used by one teacher of English as a second Language in her intensive English program classroom. Videotaped excerpts from her intermediate-level grammar course were transcribed to represent the speech, gesture, and other nonverbal behavior that accompanied unplanned explanations of vocabulary that arose during three focus-on-form lessons. The gesture classification system of McNeill (1992), which delineates different types of hand movements (iconics, metaphorics, deictics, beats), was used to understand the role the gestures played in these explanations. Results suggest that gestures and other nonverbal behavior are forms of input to classroom second Language learners that must be considered a salient factor in classroom-based second Language acquisition research.