A gesture-based approach to teaching english as a second language

  1. Bilbrough, Michael Alan
Supervised by:
  1. Gloria Álvarez Benito Director

Defence university: Universidad de Sevilla

Fecha de defensa: 28 June 2017

  1. Francisco Garrudo Carabias Chair
  2. Isabel Iñigo-Mora Secretary
  3. Francisco Javier Ávila López Committee member
  4. Fernando David Rubio Alcalá Committee member
  5. Carmen Gregori Signes Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 480216 DIALNET lock_openIdus editor


An artificial hand-gesture code was designed by the author to present and elicit English as an L2 in the English language classroom. The gesture code was combined with a methodological approach bearing resemblances to input-based instruction and Focus on Form. The combination of the gesture code together with the methodology when applied in the classroom was named GestureWay (GW). The rationale behind this teaching focus was to provide students with an alternative input reference to text and allow learners accelerated exposure and practice of holistic language in its oral form thereby assisting in the development of communicative spoken L2 competency. An experiment was set up over an academic year comparing a group of nineteen nine-year-olds at a Seville primary school (Spain) who received a course of GW and a control group who continued with the usual programme of English instruction. Pre-tests and post-tests were carried out on both groups. Results showed that when communicative acquisition levels were assessed, the experimental group scored significantly higher marks than the control group especially in oral story-telling activities. Comparisons between non-communicative aspects of language knowledge such as controlled discrete item tests resulted in more evenly spread scores between the two groups or with a small advantage to the experimental group. Besides the quantitative measurements taken from both groups, a qualitative appraisal was made of the consequences of implementing GestureWay in the classroom with learners unused to this style of teaching. The overall observations were favourable in that learners quickly accepted and successfully continued with the dynamic to the end of the course and responded well despite some teething problems of difficulties in adapting to classroom environments of highly communicative and cognitively intensive classroom environments.