Author: Adrian Tennant | Published on 1 October 2023


Question: How can gestures help learners understand what to do?

Answer: They can help a lot when learners don’t know much English.

Gestures are a useful way to give instructions and support learners. They are particularly useful:

  • when learners don’t know much English
  • when giving instructions
  • for visual learners

The gestures you use as a teacher need to be simple and clear. Gestures are often universal, which means they can be used anywhere in the world. However, a gesture may sometimes have a different meaning in a particular culture. Make sure the gestures you use aren’t offensive

Look at these gestures. The first means: ‘Listen!’. The second means: ‘Open your books.’ When using this one, it is useful to say the page number.   

Gestures are easy to understand. By using English and a combination of gestures, you will help learners improve and understand more.

What gestures will you use in your lessons?


visual learners: learners who learn by reading or seeing pictures

universal: common

offensive: aggressive

combination: selection