Do we adapt our gestures to our interlocutor?

Marion Tellier (LPL), Gale Stam (National Louis University) and Alain Ghio (LPL) have just published the article "Handling language: How future language teachers adapt their gestures to their interlocutor" in the scientific journal Gesture. This eagerly awaited article is the culmination of important research work as part of the "Gesture in Teacher Talk" project conducted by Marion and Gale since 2009.

Reference: Marion Tellier, Gale Stam, Alain Ghio. Handling language: How future language teachers adapt their gestures to their interlocutor. Gesture, John Benjamins Publishing, 2021, 20 (1), pp.30-62. 10.1075/gest.19031.telhal-03445299

For information, the article is available in its entirety at the LPL library (and soon also in HAL).


This paper addresses the question of how speakers adapt their gestures according to their interlocutor’s proficiency level in the language of the interaction especially in the specific context of foreign language teaching. We know that speakers make changes in their speech when addressing a non-native speaker, called Foreigner Talk (Ferguson, 1975) to make their speech more comprehensible. However, whether and how gestures are also modified along with speech has hardly been addressed in the literature. In this study, we examined the speech and gesture of future teachers of French in a word explanation task to see what types of adjustments they made when explaining a word to a native speaker and a non-native speaker. We had ten future teachers of French explain the same 12 words to a native and a non-native speaker of French and compared the explanations. We found that the future teachers produced significantly more gestures, significantly longer gestures in duration, significantly more illustrative (iconic and deictic) gestures, and significantly larger gestures when addressing a non-native interlocutor. These results show that native speakers make not only speech adjustments but also gesture adjustments in addressing non-native speakers.

Credits: Corpus GTT 2009 (Tellier and Stam)

These gestures that matter for language learning

"The Conversation" publishes a new article by Marion Tellier (LPL / AMU) which discusses here the positive effects of gestures and body techniques in the learning of foreign languages!

Link to article (in French): Ces gestes qui comptent pour l’apprentissage des langues (

Link to her last article about the role of the body in distance learning (April 2021, in French): Le corps a-t-il encore sa place dans l’enseignement à distance ? (


Credits: Andrea Piacquadio /Pexels, CC BY

Does the body still have a place in distance education?

"At the university, while the courses are now delivered by videoconference, teachers and students find themselves in perpetual digital representation. How do you re-establish a real bond?"

In an article published in the media "The Conversation", Marion Tellier, University professor in language teaching (LPL / AMU) and specialist in gestures, wonders about the role of the body and pedagogical gestures during online courses.

Link to article (in French): Does the body still have a place in distance education? (


Image by chenspec / Pixabay