Banner Portal
The Egg and Jerry


Hands gestures
English L2

How to Cite

Capussotti G, Meluzzi C. The Egg and Jerry: narration and gesture in L1 and L2 by Italian schoolchildren. J. of Speech Sci. [Internet]. 2020 Sep. 9 [cited 2024 May 21];9(00):31-48. Available from:


In this paper we present a sociolinguistic research conducted on Italian schoolchildren learning English as LS. Following on from renowned researchers, we focused on a less studied population, that is school-aged monolingual children. Our participants consist in 15 students of a 4th grade class at a primary school in Pavia, all aged around 9 y.o, 7 boys and 8 girls. All children do not present any recorded cognitive problems and they are all Italian L1 speakers with little or no use of other languages at home, and English learnt as LS since the beginning of primary school at age 6. We recorded all children performing a task of re-narration of a “Tom & Jerry” cartoon, firstly in Italian and then, after one week, in English. The corpus consist of about 2h 45’ of recordings, transcribed and annotated in ELAN. Lexical knowledge in English was also tested through a questionnaire before the recordings. The results were analyzed both qualitatively and, partly, quantitatively. During qualitative analysis, two elements were observed: (1) general tendencies in speakers general behavior and (2) differences in the relationship between syntactic-conversational system and gesture system in relation to L1/L2. The quantitative analysis show a difference in the use of beats gestures and iconic ones between L1 and LS, but also between boys and girls.


Alibali MW, Goldin-Meadow S. Gesture-Speech Mismatch and Mechanisms of Learning: What the Hands Reveal about a Child’s State of Mind. Cognitive Psychology, 25: 468–523, 1993.

Alibali MW, Flevares LM, Goldin-Meadow S. Assessing Knowledge Conveyed in Gesture: Do Teachers Have the Upper Hand? Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(1): 183–193, 1997.

Alibali MW, Spencer RC, Knox L, Kita S. Spontaneous gestures influence strategy choices in problem solving. Psychological Science 22(9): 1138–1144, 2011.

Broaders SC, Cook S, Wagner MZ, Goldin-Meadow S. Making children gesture brings out implicit knowledge and leads to learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136: 539–550, 2007.

Bates E, Camaioni L, Volterra V. The acquisition of performatives prior to speech. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development 21(3): 205–226, 1975.

Bello A, Capirci O, Volterra V. Lexical production in children with Williams syndrome: Spontaneous use of gesture in a naming task. Neuropsychologia, 42: 201–213, 2004.

Broaders S C, Wagner Cook S, Mitchell Z, Goldin-Meadow S. Making Children Gesture Brings Out Implicit Knowledge and Leads to Learning. Journal of ExperimentalPsychology: General, 136(4): 539–550, 2007.

Capirci O, Contaldo A, Caselli M C, Volterra V. From action to language through gesture: A longitudinal perspective. Gesture 5(1-2): 155–177, 2005.

Capussotti G. La multimodalità in italiano e inglese LS: relazione tra gesto e discorso nei bambini di una scuola primaria. Unpublished Master’s Degree Thesis, University of Pavia, Italy, 2019.

Church RB, Goldin-Meadow S. The mismatch between gesture and speech as an index of transitional knowledge. Cognition, 23: 43–71, 1986.

Church RB, Ayman-Nolley S, Mahootian S. The role of gesture in bilingual education: Does gesture enhance learning? Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7: 303–319, 2004.

Colletta JM. Comparative analysis of children's narratives at different ages: a multimodal approach. Gesture, 9(1): 61–97, 2009.

Colletta JM, Pellenq C, Guidetti M. Age-related changes in co-speech gesture and narrative: Evidence from French children and adults. Speech Communication, 52(6): 565–575, 2016.

Coates J. Women, men and language: A sociolinguistic account of gender differences in language. London: Routledge, 2015.

Ekman P, Friesen W V, Hager J C. Facial Action Coding System. Salt Lake: Research Nexus, 2002.

Garber P, Alibali M W, Goldin-Meadow S. Knowledge Conveyed in Gesture Is Not Tied to the Hands. Child Development, 69(1): 75–84, 1998.

Garber P, Goldin-Meadow S. Gesture offers insight into problem-solving in adults and children. Cognitive Science 26: 817–831, 2002.

Grosjean F. Neurolinguists, beware! The bilingual is not two monolinguals in one person. Brain and Language, 36: 3–15, 1989.

Grosjean F, Li P. The Psycholinguistics of Bilingualism. Oxford: Wiley‐Blackwell, 2013.

Kendon A. Gesture and speech: two aspects of the process of utterance. In Mary R. Key (Eds.), Nonverbal Communication and Language, The Hague: Mouton, 207–227, 1980.

Labov W. Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1972.

Legerstee M, Fisher T. Coordinated attention, declarative and imperative pointing in infants with and without Down syndrome: Sharing experiences with adults and peers. First Language, 28: 281–312, 2008.

Macedonia M, von Kriegstein K. Gestures enhance foreign language learning. Biolinguistics, 6(3-4): 393–416, 2012.

McCafferty S G. Space for cognition: gesture and second language learning. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14(1): 148–165, 2004.

McNeill D. So You Think Gestures are Nonverbal? Psychological Review 92(3), 350–371, 1985.

McNeill D. Psycholinguistics: A new approach. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

McNeill D. Hand and Mind. What Gestures Reveal About Thought. Chicago-London: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Nicoladis E, Mayberry RI, Genesee F. Gesture and early bilingual development. Developmental Psychology, 35(2): 514–526, 1999.

Nicoladis E, Pika S, Marentette P. Do French-English bilingual children gesture more than monolingual children? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 38: 573–585, 2009.

Özçalışkan S, Goldin-Meadow S. Sex differences in language first appear in gesture. Developmental Science 13: 752–760, 2010.

Ping R, Goldin-Meadow S. Hands in the air: Using ungrounded iconic gestures to teach children conservation of quantity. Developmental Psychology, 44(5): 1277–1287, 2008.

Pika S, Nicoladi E, Marentette P. A cross-cultural study on the use of gestures: Evidence for cross-linguistic transfer? Bilingualism, 9: 319–327, 2006.

Tellier M. The effect of gestures on second language memorisation by young children. Gesture, 8: 219–235, 2008.

Wagner Cook S, Goldin-Meadow S. The Role of Gesture in Learning: Do Children Use Their Hands to Change Their Minds? Journal Of Cognition And Development, 7(2): 211–232, 2006.

Wakefield E M, James K H. Effects of learning with gesture on children's understanding of a new language concept. Developmental Psychology, 5: 1105–1114, 2015.

Wittenburg P, Brugman H, Russel A, Klassmann A, Sloetjes H. ELAN: a Professional Framework for Multimodality Research. In: Proceedings of LREC 2006, Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, 2006.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2020 Giulia Capussotti, Chiara Meluzzi


Download data is not yet available.