Dr Vikki Janke, Lecturer in Linguistics in the Department of English Language & Linguistics, will be delivering a guest lecture at the Sign Language Colloquium at the Max Planck Institute, Radboud University, Nijmegen on 9 June 2017, on the role of gesture and the acquisition of sign language as a second language.
Vikki will be presenting work undertaken with Dr Chloe Marshall (Institute of Education, UCL), which examines what learners of sign language start out with in terms of their manual gesture, by gathering data from 30 sign-naïve gesturers on an elicitation task requiring them to locate objects in space using their hands and no voice. Their results suggest that a key challenge when learning to express locative relations in sign is to reduce from a potentially very large set of handshapes rather than to supplement a restricted one.
Having detailed knowledge of what learners start out with in terms of their gestural inventories allows identification of contenders for both negative and positive transfer. Thus, by providing an intricate illustration of gesturers’ potential toolkit, this study establishes further connections between what a learner produces when acquiring sign and the source from which the production first stemmed. A positive outcome is that teachers might better anticipate and potentially circumvent confounds that hinder learning whilst exploiting those aspects of gesture that can bootstrap learning.
Further details of the Sign Language Colloquium and the full programme are available at: www.ru.nl/mlc/public-outreach/public-outreach-0/@1094031/sign-language-colloquium-june-9th-2017/