The Lobo Language Acquisition Lab at The University of New Mexico will present Elena Nicoladis of the University of British Columbia as part of its #CelebrateBilingualismNM Speaker Series. The lab and series are supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The free virtual presentation will be Friday, Feb. 10, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Details are available online. ASL interpreters will be provided.

Nicoladis will discuss “Do gestures compensate for weak proficiency among bilingual children?”

Bilingual children most often know one of their languages better than the other. How do bilingual children communicate in their weaker language? One possibility might be that bilinguals use a lot of gestures to make their message clear. One study found that bilingual children used more points and conventional gestures (like waving ‘hello’) in their weaker language than their stronger language.

“In this talk, I will review the evidence from several studies as to whether bilinguals systematically use more gestures in their weaker language than in their stronger language. I will argue that bilinguals do occasionally use gestures to compensate for weak proficiency. However, they are far more likely to use either silence or spoken means to compensate (such as code-switching) for weak proficiency. I will discuss what these results mean for how gesture and speech are related,” Nicoladis said.

To inquire about specific access needs, please email Aster Forrest.

The Lobo Language Acquisition Lab (LLA Lab) is housed in UNM’s Linguistics Department. The Lab studies child language development through the lens of usage-based and cognitive-functional linguistics. Current projects include research on children's acquisition of minority language grammars in New Mexico, including Navajo, Spanish and ASL; signed language development; children's acquisition of morphosyntactic variation; language activation in bi-modal bilinguals; and assessment of bilingual children's language skills.