Gestures and the Spoken Language: A Crucial Semiotic and Symbiotic Relationship in Multilingual Mathematics Classes
Clemence Chikiwa 1 *
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1 Rhodes University, SOUTH AFRICA* Corresponding Author


This study’s focus was two-fold, first to look at forms of gestures teachers of multilingual mathematics classes use during teaching; and second to find out how teachers of multilingual mathematics classes utilize learners’ home language, language of learning and teaching and gestures to foster understanding in the teaching of mathematics. This qualitative case study is informed by the embodied cognition theory and social constructivism. Two purposively selected Grade 11 teachers were observed and video recorded while teaching trigonometry for a week in a multilingual policy environment. They were each interviewed for an hour. Results shows that iconic and deictic gestures were frequently used to link the teacher’s verbal language and the diagrams on the chalkboard or what was previously learnt, to ground cognition into the physical teaching and learning environment. Metaphoric gestures were less used while beat gestures were not used. Results also show that there exists an intricate semiotic and symbiotic relationship between gestures (bodily actions), and spoken language (in two or more languages in the same environment). In this paper, I conclude that in multilingual classes all forms of teacher gestures that indicate and refers to objects and locations in reality may help improve learning. Gestures and verbal languages complement each other, and should be used as resources for mediating and scaffolding teaching and learning.


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Article Type: Research Article

EURASIA J Math Sci Tech Ed, Volume 17, Issue 12, December 2021, Article No: em2034

Publication date: 15 Oct 2021

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