Handling discourse: Gestures, reference tracking, and communication strategies in early L2

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The production of cohesive discourse, especially maintained reference, poses problems for early second language (L2) speakers. This paper considers a communicative account of overexplicit L2 discourse by focusing on the interdependence between spoken and gestural cohesion, the latter being expressed by anchoring of referents in gesture space. Specifically, this study investigates whether overexplicit maintained reference in speech (lexical noun phrases [NPs]) and gesture (anaphoric gestures) constitutes an interactional communication strategy. We examine L2 speech and gestures of 16 Dutch learners of French retelling stories to addressees under two visibility conditions. The results indicate that the overexplicit properties of L2 speech are not motivated by interactional strategic concerns. The results for anaphoric gestures are more complex. Although their presence is not interactionally motivated, their spatial articulation is. A learner‐ and processing‐oriented account for both speech and gesture is discussed.


External organisations
  • Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • visibility, communication strategies, reference tracking, gesture, second language acquisition, discourse, information structure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-196
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)