Theories of embodied cognition describe language processing and representation as inherently connected to the sensorimotor experiences collected during acquisition. While children grasp their world, collect bodily experiences and name them, in second language (L2), students learn bilingual word lists. Experimental evidence shows that embodiment by mean of gestures enhances memory for words in L2. However, no study has been conducted on the effects of grasping in L2. In a virtual scenario, we trained 46 participants on 18 two- and three-syllabic words of Vimmi, an artificial corpus created for experimental purposes. The words were assigned concrete meanings of graspable objects. Six words were learned audio-visually, by reading the words projected on the wall and by hearing them. Another 6 words were trained by observation of virtual objects. Another 6 words were learned by observation and additional grasping the virtual objects. Thereafter participants were subministered free, cued recall, and reaction time tests in order to assess the word retention and the word recognition. After 30 days, the recall tests were repeated remotely to assess the memory in the long term. The results show that grasping of virtual objects can lead to superior memory performance and to lower reaction times during recognition.
- second language learning
- virtual reality