A microgenetic analysis of the relationship between speech and gesture in children: Evidence for semantic and temporal asynchrony
We present a microgenetic analysis of the gestures that children produce as they talk about a balance task. Children gesture spontaneously on this task and here their hand gestures are considered in relation to the accompanying speech. By close examination of 21 children's single sessions, and the 163 iconic gestures they produced (a mean of 7.6 gestures per child), it was found that gestures are rarely produced without speech. However, one third of the gestures the children produced conveyed different information to that expressed in their spoken explanations. Furthermore, children were found to convey information uniquely in gesture by expressing ideas in the manual modality that did not appear in their spoken explanations. Finally, in many cases children expressed an idea in gesture before they talked about it. These data suggest that gestures are integrally linked to the child's thinking and are an important and illuminating means of externalising cognition.