CREATING AND LEARNING LANGUAGE BY HAND – COMMENTARY
Professor Susan Goldin-Meadow's in depth study of the links between language and gesture pointed very clearly to her point of view: that gestureis a key tool in the development of children, specifically to the learning of speech. Though most of her studies were said to be very short-term, which, I personally conclude to be somewhatineffective, I nevertheless find myself in full accordance.
I'd like to address, above all, her study of how children exposed to a spoken language since birth still resort to gesturing to communicate. Theauthor expresses that children will often gesture before their first spoken words or will combine words with gestures to form their first attempts at making a sentence. I full-heartedly agree with herobservations. It would seem that infants often use pointing or grabbing motions in addition to a simple word to express that they want or need a certain object. They also show early awareness ofpossession by, as Professor Goldin-Meadow pointed out, motioning towards their father and saying the word sock. This, in turn, shows that the infant understands that the sock is his father's. Clearly thisproves the first signs of language comprehension in the child, aiding it to develop proper spoken skills. Psychologist Adam Kendon, known to have spawned the study of gesturing, had underlined theimportance of gesturing not through studies of children, but in every-day communication between adults. He studied greetings, visual recognition, as well as regular body movement within conversation toconclude that a large portion of our spoken language is interpreted through gesture. I therefore reach the conclusion that, if gesture is so common and important among adults, early exposure mustcertainly aid a child's language processing.
Much like Goldin-Meadow, Kendon had also pursued research in the fields of homesign systems. Through studies of the sign-language of Aboriginal tribes, he had...
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