Conversational Movement Dynamics and Nonverbal Indicators of Second Language Development: A Microgenetic Approach

Kristine Marie Bragg


This dissertation study extends on current understandings of gesture and embodied interaction with the eco-social environment in second language development (SLD) while introducing new aspects of movement analysis through dynamical modeling. To understand the role of embodiment during learning activities, a second language learning task has been selected. Dyads consisting of a non-native English-speaking student and a native English-speaking tutor were video recorded during writing consultations centered on class assignments provided by the student. Cross-recurrence quantification analysis was used to measure interactional movement synchrony between the members of each dyad. Results indicate that students with varied English proficiency levels synchronize movements with their tutors over brief, frequent periods of time. Synchronous movement pattern complexity is highly variable across and within the dyads. Additionally, co-speech gesture and gesture independent of speech were analyzed qualitatively to identify the role of gesture as related to SLD events. A range of movement types were used during developmental events by the students and tutors to interact with their partner. The results indicated that language development occurs within a movement rich context through negotiated interaction which depends on a combination of synchronized and synergistic movements. Synchronized movements exhibited complex, dynamical behaviors including variability, self-organization, and emergent properties. Synergistic movement emergence revealed how the dualistic presence of the self/other in each dyad creates a functioning intersubjective space. Overall, the dyads demonstrated that movement is a salient factor in the writing consultation activity.