Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Steven G. McCafferty, Chair

Second Committee Member

Thomas W. Bean

Third Committee Member

Shaoan Zhang

Graduate Faculty Representative

LeAnn G. Putney

Number of Pages



Vygotsky (1978) uses the example of gesture in a child, stating that finger pointing represents an interpersonal relationship, and only after this cultural form is internalized can an intrapersonal relationship develop. Language learning must be viewed in the context of social interaction, and the gesture of others, specifically language instructors toward their students, is a form of social interaction worthy of attention. Newman and Holzman (1993) discuss the idea of performance as a mode of semiotic mediation related to meaning making. Daniels, Cole, and Wertsch (2007) also discuss the concept of performance, stating that gestures are tools which assist performance. Wells (1999) adds performance to Vygotsky’s modes of semiotic mediation when discussing learning and teaching within the ZPD, considering these sources of assistance to learners in the ZPD. This study examined the discourse and corresponding gestures used in the classroom by one female instructor and her students in a university ESL pronunciation course. Specifically, the observations are of the teacher in interaction with students concerning the subject matter. The instructor and students were video recorded for the first five weeks of an eight-week course, meeting twice per week for one hour. The findings are discussed in relation to the instructor’s embodied practices. The data revealed that the instructor gestured and mimetically illustrated in order to concretize the language. In addition, her performance included nearly constant instantiations of language in terms of gesture. The gestures observed are organized into the different linguistic categories of grammar, pronunciation, and lexis. In addition, gestures related to classroom management are described. This organization reinforces the notion that the instructor was trying to concretize the language and codify it. Gestures in this study are considered in relation to pedagogy. Therefore, not only the gesture types, but also the functions, are discussed.


English as a second language; English language — Study and teaching (Higher) — Foreign speakers; ESL; Gesture; Pedagogy; Pointing (Gesture); Post-secondary; Sociocultural theory; Speech and gesture


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Linguistics

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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