ReN Gesture, Multimodality, and SLA: February 2020 News

Gale Stam, National Louis University, 


Recent events and publications

Since the last AILA matters was published, Kimi Nakatsukasa, Texas Tech University, my co-convener of this network unexpectedly died in October 2019. I have assumed all responsibilities for the network.

The AILA ReN had two meetings via Zoom: one for members in Asia and North America on Monday, November 18, 2019 and another for members in North America, Africa, and Europe on Friday, December 13, 2019.

The following are recent publications from members (in bold) of the AILA ReN:

aus der Wieschen, M. V. & Eskildsen, S. W. (2019). Embodied and occasioned learnables and teachables in an early EFL classroom. In Nguyen, H. t. & T. Malabarba (eds.), Conversation analytic perspectives on English language learning and teaching in global contexts: Constraints and possibilities (pp. 31-58). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Cadierno, T., Hansen, M, Eskildsen, S. W., Hannibal-Jensen, S., Fenyvesi, K., & aus der Wieschen, M. (2020). Does younger mean better? Age of onset, learning rate and short-term L2 proficiency in Danish young learners of English. Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 57-68.

Debreslioska, S., van de Weijer, J., & Gullberg, M. (2019). Addressees are sensitive to the presence of gestures when tracking a single referent in discourse. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(1775). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01775

Eskildsen, S. W. (2020). Constructional or interactional competence? The substance of language and L2 learning from a usage-based perspective. In C. Hall & R. Wicaksono (eds.), Ontologies of English. Reconceptualising the language for learning, teaching, and assessment (pp. 59-79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eskildsen, S. W. (2019). Learning behaviors in the wild: How people achieve L2 learning outside of class. In Hellermann, J., Eskildsen, S. W., Pekarek Doehler, S., & Piirainen-Marsh, A. (eds), Conversation analytic research on learning-in-action: The complex ecology of second language interaction ‘in the wild’ (pp. 105-129) Dordrecht: Springer.

Eskildsen, S. W. & Kasper, G. (2019). Interactional usage-based L2 pragmatics: From form-meaning pairings to construction-action relations. In N. Taguchi (ed.), The handbook of second language acquisition and pragmatics (pp. 176-191). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hellermann, J., Eskildsen, S. W., Pekarek Doehler, S., & Piirainen-Marsh, A. (Eds). (2019). Conversation analytic research on learning-in-action: The complex ecology of second language interaction ‘in the wild’. Dordrecht: Springer.

Nirme, J., Haake, M., Gulz, A., & Gullberg, M. (2019). Motion capture-based animated characters for the study of speech-gesture integration. Behaviour Research Methods. doi:10.3758/s13428-019-01319-w

Sandler, W., Gullberg, M., & Padden, C. (Eds.). (2019). Visual language. Lausanne: Frontiers Media.


Preparations for the World Congress 2020 

The network is busy planning for our colloquium at AILA 2020 on “Latest research on gesture and second language acquisition: Production, perception, and classroom” to showcase the latest research by ReN members. I will host two meetings in April with the presenters of both our AILA 2020 ReN symposium and coding workshop.

The following are three projects that are in progress for AILA 2020:

Søren Eskildsen and Johannes Wagner are interested in understanding the specifics of how a socially adaptive L2 repertoire manifests and develops as an interplay among embodied, interactional and linguistic resources. They investigate how specific L2 items move along a developmental path of embodied appropriation-for-use. They look at L2 speakers' initial packaging of specific linguistic resources with specific gestures, often in repair sequences, which give rise to particular gesture-word assemblies and then trace the usage trajectories of these gesture-word packages over time.

Renia Lopez is analyzing gestures co-occurring with the discourse marker “entonces” (then) in a corpus of twenty four narrations from native and non-native speakers of Spanish. “Entonces” often indicates a temporal sequential nexus linking two propositions. However, it has a number of other highly pragmatic functions including cognitive, inferential and metadiscursive, such as managing turns and indicating a shift of theme or speech difficulties (also observed by Bestgen, 1998), or to providing logical-argumentative relations between propositions. She has observed that over half of gestures co-occurring with “entonces” are of a recurrent nature, with some forms being repeated, such as cyclical gestures and arc gestures, seemingly “bridging” the transition between two events.

Masaaki Kamiya and Amanda Brown examine a context of negation in which the presence of quantification yields scopal ambiguities and ask to what extent gestural forms and timings help second language (L2) users of English comprehend intended interpretations. Fifty eight university-level L2 English speakers (27 low-intermediate CEFR-A2/B1; 31 high-intermediate CEFR-B2/C1) were presented with two versions of ambiguous sentences produced with scripted gestures. Contrasting audio-only versus audio+video sentence presentation formats, analyses revealed moderately accurate levels of interpretation, with a partial effect of proficiency but no/limited effects of presentation type. Their findings emphasize the importance of gesture in L2 communication.


Ongoing research and opportunities for collaboration

 Members continue to work on various topics related to gestures and multimodality including classroom instruction, pedagogical gestures, gestures and L2 learning, bilinguals' gestures, gestures in conversation analysis, gestures and L2 comprehension, gestures and L1 and L2 thinking for speaking. If you are interested in participating in or collaborating on any of these projects, please send us a brief description of research interests so that we can identify a possible collaborator.

The following is an example of research that a member of the network is currently working on:

Breaking into sign language: the role of input and individual differences
Chloe Marshall, Vikki Janke, & Marianne Gullberg

Although much is known about how adults learn a second spoken language, very little research has focused on how they learn a sign language. In this project we investigate how hearing adults 'break into' a language that seems starkly different in form to their first. We investigate how the input (i.e. the signs that learners see), learners' individual cognitive differences, and the potential effect of a gestural substrate in hearing learners contribute to the initial stages of learning. By focusing on both production and comprehension, and combining naturalistic but controlled input with experimental cross-sectional and longitudinal methods, we address questions of theoretical and applied importance in this novel research area.


Upcoming events

Members from the network will be offering a pre-conference workshop, dedicated to the memory of Kimi Nakatsukasa, at AAAL 2020 on coding video data:

The AILA ReN will also have a meeting on Sunday at AAAL. In addition, Zoom meetings of the AILA ReN are planned for May for those who could not attend the meeting in March.


Contact information

For more information about ReN, please contact the convener Gale Stam ( and visit our AILA ReN website (