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date: 20 January 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Spontaneous gestures offer a window onto the mind of the learner. This chapter reviews evidence that gesture not only reflects what learners know but also plays a role in changing that knowledge. The gestures that children produce early in development are intimately related to the progress they make in learning language, as are the gestures that their parents produce. Moreover, once language has been mastered, children’s gestures begin to play a role in facilitating their learning of other concepts. Here too the gestures produced by others—for example, the gestures that teachers produce in instructional settings—influence children’s learning. The findings we review not only provide insight into how learning works, but they also have implications for educational and clinical practice.

Keywords: gesture, language acquisition, cognitive development, instruction, nonverbal communication, embodiment

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