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Dr Renia Lopez
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Renia Lopez

Assistant Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Associate Professor

Research Overview

My focus of interest is gestures, movements of the hands and arms co-occurring with speech, a modality used together with language to externalize the thought. I first became aware of gestures as a field of research when analyzing why non-proficient speakers could not successfully communicate with native speakers. Aside from the obvious lack of language proficiency, there was also an apparent lack of proficiency in nonverbal skills that hindered creating meaningful content and relevant pragmatic meaning. The ultimate aim of my research is to prove the link between thought speech and gesture. I believe that gestures help alleviate cognitive load in thinkers/speakers but also that they carry a significant portion of the pragmatic meaning of our utterances.

In the early stages of my studies, I was fortunate to be challenged by Prof. David McNeill, who is one of the founding fathers of research into gestures, leading to a joint publication in 2017. In this paper we discussed the meaning of the ‘Growth Point’, McNeill’s hypothesis explaining the gesture-speech-thought link. Currently, I am working with other gesture researchers in Prof. Gale Stam’s AILA Research Network “Gesture, Multimodality, and SLA”.

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Engineering, The University of Leeds
  • Master of Business Administration, INSEAD
  • Master in Applied Linguistics for the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language, Jaen University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Málaga

Professional Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK

Teaching Areas

  • European languages and cultures
  • European trade and expansionism
  • Spanish language
  • Second language teaching

Research Interests

  • Cognitive pragmatics
  • Second Language acquisition
  • Gestures

Research Output

  1. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (accepted). Proposing a revised functional classification of pragmatic gestures. Lingua.

  2. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2020). A multimodal cognitive approach to aid the conceptualization of Spanish utterances with ‘se’, Cognitive Linguistics (published online ahead of print 2020), 000010151520190089. doi:

  3. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (Sept. 2019). Cut-offs and co-occurring gestures: Similarities between speakers’ first and second languages. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL).

  4. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2018) Disagreeing without a ‘no’: how teachers indicate disagreement in a Hong Kong classroom. Journal of Pragmatics, 137, pp.1-18.

  5. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (June, 2018). Can gestures help clarify the meaning of the Spanish marker ‘se’? Lingua (208), 1-18.

  6. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (June, 2018). Testing task difficulty evaluating parameters and identifying gestures as a valid indicator. The Asian EFL Journal, 20(6), Ch. 11.

  7. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2017). Cut-offs and Gestures: Analytical Tools to Understand a Second Language Speaker. In C. Vargas-Sierra (ed.), Professional and Academic Discourse: an Interdisciplinary Perspective (vol 2, 60-68). Alicante: EPiC Series in Language and Linguistics.

  8. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2017). Creando intimidad mediante los comportamientos no verbales. In S. Fernandez Medina (Ed.), Almudena Grandes : memoria, compromiso y resistencia. Granada, Spain: Valparaiso Ediciones.

  9. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2016). Estudio sobre la producción de gestos en estudiantes de lenguas extranjeras. Didáctica. Lengua y Literatura, 28, 165-180.

  10. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2016). Book review: “Context, Individual Differences and Pragmatic Competence Naoko Taguchi (2012) Multilingual Matters”. East Asian Pragmatics, 1 (2), 277-281.

  11. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2016). Adquiriendo ELE a través de los personajes de Almudena Grandes. Revista Foro de Profesores de ELE, 12, 147-155

  12. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2015). Cultural aspects of immediacy in an Asian classroom. ELIA,15, 13-34.

  13. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2013). Reflections on the Use of Nonverbal Communication in Teaching Spanish to Sino-Speakers. Revista de Lenguas para Fines Específicos, 19, 321-340.

  1. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (accepted). The meaning of teachers’ negations in Hong Kong classrooms interpreted from their co-occurring gestures. In M. Roitman and M. Garcia Negroni (Eds.), The Multidimensionality of Negation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

  2. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (under review). Improving second language writing across the disciplines: resources for content teachers. In M. Carrió Pastor (Ed.). Teaching language and content in multilingual classrooms: CLIC and EMI approaches.

  3. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (under review). Learning from a Corpus of Students’ Academic Writing. In Francisco J. Álvarez-Gil and Marina Bondi (Eds).

  4. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2017). Independent ESP learners: The case for blended learning. In R. Muñoz-Luna & L. Taillefer (eds.), Integrating Information and Communication Technologies in English for Specific Purposes (pp. 37-56). New York: Springer.

  5. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2012). Manifestaciones sociolingüísticas para dar y tomar la palabra en la interacción oral de estudiantes hongkoneses de español. Master thesis (unpublished). Universidad de Jaen, Spain.

  6. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. & McNeill, D. (2017). Exchange on gesture-speech unity: What it is, where it came from. In R. Breckinridge Church, Martha W. Alibali and Spencer Kelly (Eds.), Why Gesture?: How the hands function in speaking, thinking and communicating (pp. 103-125). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

  1. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2012). ¿Ahora hablo yo?: Observaciones de cómo negocian los turnos discursivos estudiantes hongkoneses de español. Proceedings of the III Encuentro de Profesores de Español para Sinohablantes (EPES) (pp. 210-220). Jaén, Spain: Publicaciones de la Universidad de Jaén.

  2. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2010). ¿Cómo enseñamos el presente de indicativo? Recursos para las primeras horas de clase. Proceedings of the IV Jornadas de Formación de Profesores, Beijing.

  1. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2015). Analysis of disfluencies and gestures in Spanish natives and in students of Spanish as a foreign language. Doctoral thesis (online publication). Universidad de Malaga, Spain.

  2. Lopez-Ozieblo, R. (2000). Demystifying Online Education. Master thesis (published online by Netdimensions, no longer available). INSEAD, France and Singapore.



  • Ongoing Advisor: From negation to disagreement: Detection and analysis of multimodal patterns in audiovisual and lab interaction corpora (MultiNeg). Led by Dr. Ines Olza (University of Navarra, Spain) (2018).

  • Ongoing: AILA REN on Gestures in second language acquisition. Led by Prof. Gale Stam (University of St. Lois, USA) (2018).

  • Ongoing: Base-line Study to Identify Types of Gestures in Speakers of English as a Second or Foreign Language at Various Proficiency Levels. Funded by: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2018).

  • Ongoing: A Telecollaborative E-Learning Project on Foreign Language Learning. Led by Dr. Chauduri (Baptist University HK) Funded by: HK UGC TL (2017).

  • Pilot Study to Determine the Interference of L1 Gestures in L2 English Representational Gestures. Funded by: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2017 - 2019).

  • Supporting Professional Development, Pedagogy & Language for Curriculum Learning. Funded by: HK UGC (2017 - 2019).

  • Identifying cognitive load differences in narrating and reflective tasks through gesture -speech analysis. Funded by: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2017 - 2018).

  • Corpus Use in Academic Writing by Postgraduate Students: Impact and Implications. Funded by: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2016 - 2017).

  • A contrastive analysis of gestures in Mexican and Spanish speakers of Spanish. Funded by Early Career Fund, University of Huddersfield (2015 - 2017).

  • Investigating the use of teachers’ nonverbal communication to enhance their classroom performance. Funded by: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2015 - 2017).

  • PIE15-49: Design of virtual activities in English for the Virtual Campus Funded by: Proyecto de Innovación Educativa para la mejora de la práctica docente, Malaga University, Spain (2015).

  • Academic Writing in English as a Foreign Language (Extended). Funded by: Research Network - International Association of Applied Linguistics (2013 & 2015).

  • PIE13-29: Skype Practicum en Inglés/Español como Lengua Extranjera. Funded by: Proyecto de Innovación Educativa para la mejora de la práctica docente, Malaga University, Spain (2013).

  • Academic Writing in English as a Foreign Language. Funded by: Research Network - International Association of Applied Linguistics (2012).

Esteem Measures



  • Fellow: Higher Education Academy, UK.
  • 2019 - Faculty Award for Outstanding Performance Achievement in Teaching - Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  • Winner “Five Best Master Thesis” for the academic year 2011-2012, University of Jaen, Spain.

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