2020 – 27th Annual Conference, Belgrade

Speakers, Presentations & Workshops

Tilia Gamba

Learning verbs conjugating system through gestures : towards an embodied language learning

In the digital age where our pedagogical practices are increasingly sedentary through new technologies, our research examine the role of gesture and movement in the classroom, and particularly gestures as vectors and facilitators in the verbal system’s (conjugation) acquisition of French as a foreign language.

Theories in cognitive science such as “embodied cognition” (F. Valera, E. Thompson, E. Rosch, Alva N. 1990, G. Lakoff, 1999) state that thought impacts the body, while as much as the body affects thought; as a result, whatever is learned, is done through the mobilization of the body and the brain (cognition). In addition, the field of neuroscience has already demonstrated through the discovery of mirror neurons (Rizzolati, Sinagaglia, 2008) that the motor system holds many functions other than the simple movement’s control such as empathy or cognition. Perception, language and action are all located in the same place (Broca’s area): these functions are therefore interdependent.

In didactics, researchers (Goldin-Meadow et al, Dennison, 2010), work on the relationship between gesture and cognition by highlighting the cognitive changes that may result from the use of gesture in the learning process of mathematics or reading. The results are positive concerning comprehension, problem solving as well as memorization of lexicon in the short and medium term. However, research dealing with grammar’s acquisition dealing with gesture remains limited.

As far as our research is concerned, we attach ourselves to didactic propositions such as AIM (Accelerative integrated method, Maxwell), the Gesture way (Bilbough), and the co-grammatical gestures (Lapaire) to show the impact can have gesture on the verbal system’s acquisition with bilingual children (between 8 and 11 years old) English/ Arabic speakers who learn French as a foreign language at the French Institute of Kuwait, and more particularly the improvement of verbal endings pronunciation which is usually problematic in class.


French as a foreign langage teacher in the French Institute of Kuwait since 2014, I also worked in several countries like Oman, Palestine, Morocco, Yemen, Ethiopia and of course France. Through my years of teaching French I’ve noticed how learners and particularly children were limited in their learning potential by their sitting and static posture. These observations led me to write a phd thesis about “Using gestures to learn verb conjugating system in French as a foreign language classes: towards an embodied language learning.”, and to conduct a research on bilingual children between 8 and 11 years old teaching French conjugation through gestures to overcome the difficulties often encountered in this area. I am in my last year of PHD in “didactics and linguistics” and will submit my thesis in December 2020 in Montpellier 3 university in France. I already participated in an international conference, presenting my research last July in Jordan at Mutah University (Challenges of Modern Language Theories: Language Learning and Acquisition).