A Virtual Agent as Vocabulary Trainer: Iconic Gestures Help to Improve Learners’ Memory Performance
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An important and often laborious task in foreign language acquisition is vocabulary learning. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that performing iconic gestures together with novel words has a beneficial effect on learning performance. Can these findings be transferred onto virtual agents applied in gesture-supported vocabulary training? We present a study investigating whether iconic gestures performed by a virtual agent and imitated by learners have an impact on verbal memory for words in a foreign language. In a within-subject design we compared participants’ memory performance achieved with the help of a virtual agent and those achieved with the help of a human trainer regarding both short-term learning effects and long-term decay effects. The overall results demonstrate improved memory scores when participants learned with a virtual agent. Especially high performers could profit from gesture-supported training with a virtual agent.
KeywordsVocabulary acquisition iconic gestures memory performance
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