My thesis investigates several issues related to the precursor and beneficial effects of beat gestures —and their concomitant prosodic prominence— on 5- to 6-year-old children’s oral narrative skills.

Link to my PhD research proposal (June 2017)

Beat gestures
boost children's narrative performance
  • The potential effect of encouraging the production of beat gestures on children's narrative discourse performance (i.e., narrative skills) in a brief narrative discourse training.

​Vilà-Giménez, I., & Prieto, P. (under review). Teaching kids to beat: Encouraging beat gesture production boosts children’s narrative performance. Developmental Science.

Vilà-Giménez, I., & Prieto, P. (2018). Encouraging children to produce rhythmic beat gestures leads to better narrative discourse performances. Proceedings from the 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody. Poznań: Poland.

  • The effects of beat gestures' observation on children's narrative discourse comprehension.

Llanes-Coromina, J., Vilà-Giménez, I., Kushch, O., Borràs-Comes, J., & Prieto, P. (2018). Beat gestures help preschoolers recall and comprehend discourse information. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 172(8), 168–188. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.02.004] [ISSN: 0022-0965

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  • The potential effect of observing beat gestures on children's narrative discourse performance (i.e., narrative skills) in a brief narrative discourse training.

Vilà-Giménez, I., Igualada, A., & Prieto, P. (2018). Observing storytellers who use rhythmic beat gestures improves children’s narrative discourse performance. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication.

Beat gestures: labelling proposal

Together with my colleagues Alice Cravotta, Patrick Rohrer, Dr. Olga Kushch and my supervisor Dr. Pilar Prieto, we advanced a comprehensive gesture labelling proposal which highlights the independence of the prosodic and semantic properties of different gesture types and at the same time challenges a simplistic definition of beat gestures as biphasic rhythmic non-meaningful gestures.

Prieto, P., Cravotta, A., Kushch, O., Rohrer, P., & Vilà-Giménez, I. (2018). Deconstructing beat gestures: a labelling proposal. Proceedings from the 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody. Poznań: Poland.

Children's pragmatic and prosodic abilities

Together with my colleagues Mariia Pronina, Dr. Iris Hübscher and my supervisor Dr. Pilar Prieto, we created a test that aims at assessing pragmatic abilities from a multimodal perspective (e.g., by taking into account prosodic and gestural patterns). The test assessment thus focuses not only on the verbal cues (speech, prosody), but importantly, it also considers multimodal aspects of communication (facial expression, gestures, posture). 

Pronina, M., Hübscher, I., Vilà-Giménez, I., & Prieto, P. (2019). A new tool to assess pragmatic prosody in children: evidence from 3- to 4-year-olds. Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS, 2019). 

The predictive role of beat gestures on children's narrative development

Project IN PREP.

In collaboration with:

  • Natalie Dowling (Dept. of Compartive Human Development, University of Chicago, USA)

  • Dr. O. Ece Demir-Lira (Dept. of Psychological nd Brain Sciences, University of Iowa, USA)

  • Dr. Pilar Prieto (Dept. of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

  • Prof. Susan Goldin-Meadow (Dept. of Psychology and Dept. of Compartive Human Development, University of Chicago, USA)

We assessed the pragmatic function of beat gestures, iconic gestures and flip gestures by analyzing a longitudinal database including child-parent dyads who were visited every four months between 14 and 58 months of age. We conducted a very detailed analysis of children's target sentences with co-speech gestures following a pragmatic coding scheme. Moreover, we examined whether the children's early production of beat gestures (as opposed to iconic gestures and flip gestures) would predict later narrative production performance at 5 years of age. 

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© 2019 by Ingrid Vilà-Giménez.


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