Gesture supports children's word learning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This review paper, based on a keynote address to the 2007 Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, summarizes three recent research studies that pertain to gesture as an intervention tool. Specifically, the research concerns the utility of gestured input as a scaffold to children's comprehension of-and hence learning of-spoken words. The research is framed within the Emergentist Coalition Model. In Booth, McGregor, and Rohlfing we found evidence that toddlers of 28 - 30 months exploited both the attentional and intentional bases of gesture when fast mapping new words. In Capone and McGregor, toddlers of a similar age exploited representational gesture as a cue to linguistic meaning during both fast mapping and slow mapping stages of word learning. In McGregor and Capone we demonstrated that representational gestures are also useful for at-risk children who are acquiring an early lexicon. The overall purpose of this review paper is to motivate research efforts aimed at clinical applications of the gesture - language relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gesture
  • Scaffolding
  • Vocabulary
  • Word learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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