Learning a new language can be a challenge, but a recent study shows that using gestures as you familiarize yourself with another language's vocabulary can at help speed up the learning process. Traditionally, we learn a new language through written and spoken instructions. However, if the language is a little unforgiving, this less conventional route may be more effective.

To compare which method would produce the most proficient linguistic students, researchers invited 20 participants to learn an artificial language via a six-day course. Vimmi, as the new language was called, was created to avoid unfair advantages to those who might be bilingual or more. With a completely new language to learn, at least everyone is at zero skill level.

The volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group took the normal route to learning a new language with written and spoken guidance. In the meantime, the other group focused more on gestures than anything else. After six days, results showed that those who made use of gestures remembered more words than those who were stuck with the traditional method.


Interestingly, researchers discovered that the gestures didn’t exactly have to match the words associated with them. While action words were easy enough to act out in silence, abstract words had no concrete gestures assigned to them. Words like “rather” required more original hand waving, and yet the study proves that whatever gesture was assigned to a word, it still had a positive effect.

For more on language, check out this study:

(Photo by johanlb via Flickr Creative Commons)

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