Volume 20, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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The research reported here examined the effects of language proficiency, gender, and language dominance on gesture use in the tracking of referents by Persian-English bilinguals. 32 EFL learners were divided into two groups of highly proficient and less proficient speakers with equal number of males and females in each group. They were presented with a video extract and asked to recount the story in both L1 and L2. The sessions were video-recorded and the participants’ speech and gestures were transcribed and coded to compare the total number of word tokens and the proportion of maintained references accompanied by three types of gestures. The results offered an effect for proficiency level as proficient learners produced shorter L2 narratives with fewer spoken referents and co-speech gestures. Regarding language dominance, the results were mixed as both males and females produced longer narratives and more gestures in their dominant language (L1), but fewer spoken references, which could be attributed to the pro-drop phenomenon in Persian. The findings also indicated that females’ narratives were longer with more referring expressions and gestures, suggesting that gender can modulate the relationship between language proficiency/dominance and gesticulation. Finally, abstract deictic gestures were observed to be more frequently used by participants.


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