Project Overview

Dual Streams of Iconicity: Sound symbolism and iconic gestures in foreign vocabulary learning

Faculty Sponsor

Spencer Kelly (




While second language learning in adults is a universally difficult task, it has been discovered that certain cues make this challenge easier. Studies demonstrate that pairing new words with iconic gesture facilitates memory (Macedonia & von Kriegstein, 2012; Kelly, McDevitt & Esch, 2008). Additionally, sound symbolism  (e.g., onomatopoeia) is a form of iconicity that has been shown to improve language learning because of the correspondence between word form and meaning (Dingemanse, Blasi, Lupyan, Christiansen & Monaghan, 2015). The present study investigates the extent to which the combination of iconic hand gestures and sound symbolism synergistically influences vocabulary learning in a foreign language.

Student Qualifications

The students must have some training in my lab to be competitive for the positions. 

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/05/2018 and close on 02/05/2018

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (