Activating the ZPD by Gesture using in online foreign language teaching contexts
| Azra Tajhizi - 16 May 2022

This study aims to investigate the researchers' attitudes about the benefits of teachers' and students' gestures used in integration with the speech in digital online platforms creating zones of proximal development (ZPD) for foreign language learning and teaching.

The obtained results indicate a positive attitude toward using gestures in promoting language learning skills and facilitating positive interaction between the multilingual and multicultural participants in helping to create a sense of shared social, cultural, symbolic, physical, and mediated mental space.

Teachers need to be made aware of the pedagogical and cultural uses of gesture as a mediational tool for teaching and be sensitized to attending to student gestures. It raises learners' cultural awareness to improve their use of natural language, increase confidence and fluency and help to avoid intercultural misunderstandings.

The gesture is a mediational tool for meaning-making in learning and teaching a foreign language. Gesture plays a role as a mediational tool for meaning-making by using an SCT framework at an advanced context level. The use of dialectics and dialogism views gestures as necessary components of meaning-making for foreign language learning. Students' comprehension may be challenged by instructional discourse that presents new concepts and uses unfamiliar terms. This study investigates how teachers' online gestures facilitate students' comprehension of instructional discourse. As the student population becomes more and more diverse, so do the means students have access to construct and understand the different possibilities of meanings. Analysis of the teacher-student gestures as the facilitator of boosting ZPD provides insight as to how they moved from simply exchanging answers to using gestures to embody meaning and feelings, thus establishing strategic ways to solve communication problems. As early as the 17th century, the human body was seen as a mediator of passions and as a conveyer of authentic communication. The expressive movement of the body and the very gesture change with each new idea. Overall, gestures as a component of communication and understanding meaning played a fundamental role in clarifying, concretizing, and providing a foundation for communication that was instigated by both parties during the discourse.

In other words, gesture helps thinking as well as speaking. Therefore, gesture depicts transitional knowledge and predicts future learning. In sum, in addition to demonstrating benefits for communication, gesture has been shown to serve a variety of cognitive functions, reducing the cognitive load to benefit working memory, facilitating the exploration of ideas through transitional knowledge, increasing access to lexical and mental representations, and leading to lasting benefits in learning and memory. Less is known, however, about the neural mechanisms of gesture or how the benefits of gesture for communication and cognition are instantiated in the brain.

In addition to this, the use of cooperative learning, where teachers and students work together to discover, understand and practice new things, is very common. 

Gestures are facilitative at multiple levels and reflect both psycholinguistic and social phenomena. One of the most salient aspects of gestures is that people differ in their use of them.   

Online language learning must be viewed in the context of online group social interaction, and the online gesture of others, specifically language instructors toward their students, is a form of online social interaction worthy of attention. Gestures as a type of scaffolding interaction add the dimension of understanding shared construction of knowledge. Gestures that trigger verbal labeling of a concept or idea scaffold the use of foreign language. It describes teaching as strongly influenced by, and embedded in its social and cultural context and points to the meaning of teaching as the transformation of socially constructed knowledge into that which is individually owned by the learner. This type of online teaching assumes a specific paradigm shift of teacher-student interaction where the role of the mediational tool like gesture is that of collaborator and co-constructor. A strong emphasis is on the active position of this tool, which is essential for the development of life-long learning skills. This connects to the idea of tool mediation, that is, to a consideration of what cultural tools have been provided for the students to appropriate and use on their own in their independent performance. It also includes a consideration of the conditions that have been created for the tools to be internalized. In other words, the techniques that can be used to ensure the transformation of assisted performance into independent performance should be considered. The idea of transformation of shared activity into its form is important for becoming a life-long learner. In particular, understanding online gestural scaffolding as providing the young learners mediated with cultural online tools, the appropriation of it enables them to become independent learners. A deeper understanding of the theoretical underpinning of the scaffolding metaphor will promote its creative and informed use by educators. The "invention of new online norms and practices" or the "modification of existing ones" leads to the transformation of "the culture's toolkit and its repertoire for problem-solving". Transformation of the activity setting brought about by the problem-solving action in conjunction with the transformation of the participation of individuals comes "transformation in the social organization of the ground and in how the members relate to each other". All of these facets of transformation are evident in the role that online group gesture plays in the interaction. The beneficial use of gestures in foreign language learning explains memory enhancement in terms of depth of encoding and delays forgetting compared to pure verbal learning. It is the multisensory information conveyed into a word that leads to deeper semantic processing and a higher attention level.


















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