Gestures as a Peer-Assistance Mechanism in Collaborative Tasks
Although research on the learner-learner interactive processes has shown how collaboration may result in provision of developmentally appropriate assistance, the mechanisms providing or obtaining assistance during language learning tasks have been little examined. In addition, EFL research has been scarce when nonverbal communication, including gesture, is concerned. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory study is to explore to what extent, in what ways and in what types are gestures are used as a mechanism of obtaining and providing assistance amongst peers to complete collaborative language learning tasks in an ESL classroom. The study is conducted in a school in Bosnia. To collect data, collaborative tasks in an ESL classroom were observed for nine days and video-tapped. The participants were interviewed about their gestures. The results of this research suggest that many types of gestures are used to a great extent as a mechanism of obtaining and providing assistance amongst peers to complete collaborative language learning tasks. These gestures are mainly synchronized with speech. The results have some pedagogical implications.
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