The programme brings into collaborative work four research teams (one from France, one from Italy, two from South Africa as third country), whose expertise is on multimodality in human interaction, language acquisition, gesture and cognition. It is grounded on past and present scientific collaboration on the development of narrative abilities in children.
The main goal is to share methods, data and multimodal annotation tools for the study of language and gesture, as well as to cooperate at a high scientific level. It also includes the training of young researchers and the enhancement of new professional practices in the field of speech therapy and related fields.
On the scientific level, the programme tests the validity of a gesture task to assess early lexical abilities in children of different countries, explores the cognitive aspect of representational gesture in early and late childhood, and investigates the effect of linguistic and cultural constraints on multimodal language production in comparing two Romance and two Bantu languages. These are key issues in the field of language and gesture studies; a field that has developed rapidly within the last ten years and which is now at the cutting edge of the research on human communication and cognition. The exchange programme will extend the expertise of each one of the four research units involved.
The outcome of the exchange is the introduction of a new language assessment tool for young children in South Africa and France, and the training of young researchers to do psycholinguistics and research on gesture and multimodality in human interaction, in South Africa as well as in Europe. The exchange also aims at establishing a sustained collaboration with the third country partners in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and at reinforcing the cooperation between the two European partners in Rome and Grenoble.