World language teachers want to immerse their students in the target language. One technique to keep the class in the target language is through gestures that indicate the meaning of a word or sentence. As the teacher introduces a new word, he/she does a gesture to help the students understand the meaning of the world. A good gesture makes the meaning clear to the students and helps students to remember the word since the gesture visualizes the meaning. For example, one sign for “separated” as in
“My father and mother are separated” is both hands in fists with the knuckles touching, lift up the thumbs and quickly spread the hands apart ; students understand “separated” instantly. Likewise, as a teacher tells a story and comes upon a new word, the teacher gestures the meaning of the world. Additionally, as students talk in the language, they may not remember a world and the teacher can do the gesture to help them remember the word. Gestures can help clarify grammar such as when the teacher does a flip of the hair to indicate a feminine ending after the student uses an incorrect masculine ending. Gestures help the class stay in the target language.
The teacher has several options for gestures:
1) Create his/ her own gestures to convey the meaning of words or sentences.
2) Use the gestures from a program such as the Accelerated Integatived Method (AIM)
3) Use TPR gestures
4) Use ASL (American Sign Language) signs such as from the Signing Savvy webiste.
5) Use sign gestures from the target language country by searching for “sign dictionary online” +country such as this one for Spanish teachers from Ecuador
How do you use gestures to help your students have more comprehensible input in the class?
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