A Workshop Combining Gestures, the Earth Speakr App, and Teacher Training

Learning the phonemes of a foreign language challenges many learners. While learners are frequently judged by their pronunciation, how teachers can support this area of instruction is often neglected. There is neurocognitive support for gestures being closely related to spoken language (Willems & Hagoort, 2007) and evidence that gestures support language learning, comprehension and memory (Macedonia & Klimesch, 2014) but how to best use them in the classroom is up for debate. Using embodied teaching methods and the Earth Speakr artwork developed by Olafur Eliasson, this workshop gives insight into an online Teaching and Learning Lab from the Freie Universität Berlin. This 60 minute practical tutorial explores using gestures and drama pedagogy to help beginning learners to create, practice and record an Earth Speakr message in a foreign language. It begins by briefly reporting on new gesture research from the classroom. Following this input we will investigate how to support beginning learners in creating their own Earth Speakr message in both online and classroom settings.

Eliasson, O. (n.d.). About Earth Speakr. from https://earthspeakr.art/en/about/
Janzen Ulbricht, N. (2020). The Embodied Teaching of Spatial Terms: Gestures Mapped to Morphemes Improve Learning. Frontiers in Education, 5(109), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.00109
Macedonia, M., & Klimesch, W. (2014). Long-Term Effects of Gestures on Memory for Foreign Language Words Trained in the Classroom. Mind, Brain, and Education, 8(2), 74–88.

Natasha Janzen Ulbricht holds an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from St. Mary’s Twickenham, London. She has trained teachers and taught English as a foreign language in Germany, Zambia and the United States. Her research interests include
gesture and foreign language learning and teaching in dif-cult circumstances. She is completing her doctoral studies in the English Didactics Department of the Freie Universität Berlin. Email: