Multimedia Technology and Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition

                          Mia Howard

                  ...
In the field of Second Language learning vocabulary acquisition is an essential

component in the student’s mastery of the...
remember words that appear only once within the text. As for vocabulary acquisition

with the use of words coupled with im...
video mode or static picture? Al-Seghayer (2001) hypothesized that video is a more

effective tool to foster the acquisiti...
level of learning and retention that a student will need to become fluent in a second

language. Other limitations to this...
randomly received the courseware with text + picture annotations score higher than those

who did not, indicating that tex...
to complete the tasks as well as presenting recorded audio at a speech rate that exceeded

the users listening proficiency...
The story consisted of 101 English words, 12 of which were inside a button: donkey,

drawer, penknife, hammer, bricks, lad...
information. Cognitive load is defined as the effort used with thinking and reasoning that

can interfere with other thoug...
and verbal information simultaneously. As stated earlier, 152 college students

participated in the study, all of which we...
understand the process of multimedia learning so that educators and their students can

fully appreciate and benefit from ...
References

Acha, J. (2009). The Effectiveness of Multimedia Programmes in Children's Vocabulary

        Learning. Britis...
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Multimedia Lit Review

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Multimedia Lit Review

  1. 1. Multimedia Technology and Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition Mia Howard Hunter College May 19, 2009
  2. 2. In the field of Second Language learning vocabulary acquisition is an essential component in the student’s mastery of the language being studied. With the increased use of multimedia programs in schools, many programmers are faced with the added challenge of creating programs that are effective for a broad range of students with different learning styles. One of the most fundamental questions being explored in educational research is: Which presentation mode is most effective for vocabulary acquisition? It is hypothesized that the use of multimedia programs that incorporates the use of word annotations with different types of information such as pictures and videos enhances vocabulary acquisition. An annotation in multimedia software can be in the form of an image, video, audio recording, or text, which provides a description or definition of the highlighted word or passage. The following literature reviewed for this paper attempts to demonstrate and support this hypothesis with conflicting positions on which presentation mode is more beneficial for the learner. In a research article by Chun & Plass (1996), two specific questions were addressed for guiding the study. First, how well is vocabulary learned “incidentally” when the purpose of the task is reading comprehension? Second, what is the effectiveness of annotations with different media types for vocabulary acquisition? The focus of the investigation was second-year German student’s foreign language vocabulary acquisition when viewing a multimedia German text with annotations for words in the form of text, pictures and videos. Each student was subsequently given a vocabulary test to assess the learning outcomes. In regard to incidental vocabulary learning, previous research suggests that second language learners are not likely to 2
  3. 3. remember words that appear only once within the text. As for vocabulary acquisition with the use of words coupled with images or videos, research suggests that words associated with actual objects or imagery is learned more easily. “The results showed a higher rate of incidental learning than expected (25% accuracy on production tests, 77% on recognition tests), significantly higher scores for words that were annotated with pictures + text than for those with video + text or text only, and a correlation between looking up a certain annotation type and using this type as the retrieval cue for remember the word.” (Chun & Plass, 1996, p.183) An explanation for the higher percentage of vocabulary recall can be attributed to dual coding effect. “According to dual coding theory, learning of a vocabulary item is best when both visual and verbal information are presented.” (Chun & Plass, 1996, p. 189) The research findings in this study support the proposed hypothesis that the use of multimedia programs that incorporates the use of word annotations with different types of information such as pictures and videos enhances vocabulary acquisition. One limitation to the study is that individual cognitive learning styles were not investigated. “For example, pictures may not be more useful than definitions for all learners but might help visualizers, whereas definitions might improve the learning of verbalizers.” (Chun & Plass, 1996, p. 195) Next, the topic of foreign language vocabulary acquisition will focus on the benefit of video annotations versus still picture annotations. In a published journal article by Al-Seghayer (2001), the research study was guided by the question, which is more effective for facilitating vocabulary acquisition: 3
  4. 4. video mode or static picture? Al-Seghayer (2001) hypothesized that video is a more effective tool to foster the acquisition of new words in a foreign language. Participants in the study consisted of 30 ESL students (17 males, 13 females) who were enrolled in the English Language Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. Al-Seghayer (2001) provided a brief overview of previous research on second language vocabulary acquisition enhanced by multimedia annotations. With a focus on three issues: the value and effect of multimedia annotations, the effect of electronic glossing, and the efficacy of dynamic videos and static pictures. The research reviewed on multimedia annotations focused on research studies that focused on modes that presented imagery. Some findings suggested that dual coding of vocabulary words better facilitates learning and different types of media furthers richness of recall cues and boosts the likelihood of retention. “The mean and percentage of correct answers for words with video and text annotations were 4.3 (87%), compared to 3.3 (67%) for words with picture and text, and 2.7 (53%) for text alone” (Al-Seghayer, 2001). The overall results on both the recognition and production vocabulary tests show that words presented with both the printed text and the video clips produced the best results. The results of this study support the researcher’s hypothesis that video is a more effective tool to foster the acquisition of new words in a foreign language. Although the participants recalled more words when the video clips were provided than when pictures or just text was present, I still question what level of retention was achieved. The researchers’ choice not to administer a delayed post test limits the findings to temporary recall. There is a need to access whether different annotation modes facilitate a deeper 4
  5. 5. level of learning and retention that a student will need to become fluent in a second language. Other limitations to this study are the small sample size which hinders the validity of the results and does not allow us to generalize the results. Al-Seghayer (2001) admits that alternate assessment techniques are needed to tap various aspects of vocabulary knowledge (Al-Seghaver, 2001, p. 217). In addition, the use of multiple choice questions as well and the questionnaire and survey are not ideal measurements of vocabulary retention. The research thus far has not explored the use of auditory annotations. The next study will incorporate research on the effectiveness of text plus picture and sound as well as investigate the effects of different learning styles. Researchers at the National Tsing Hua University, Yeh & Wang (2003) focused their study on two topics; one goal was to investigate the effectiveness of three types of vocabulary annotations on vocabulary learning for English Foreign Language students in Taiwan as well as to determine whether learners with different perceptual learning styles benefit more from a particular type of annotation. Perceptual learning styles refer to students, “… different sensor preferences for processing information (Kinsella, 1995).” (as cited by Yeh & Wang, 2003, p. 133). A student who tends to process information through listening is categorized as an auditory learner and learners who prefer to process information by reading printed text are labeled as visual learners. The research participants were 82 freshmen from the Department of Material Science and Technology and the Department of Chemistry at the Nation Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Students were given two questionnaires and two tests before and after using the multimedia courseware. The results of the post-tests indicated that the students who 5
  6. 6. randomly received the courseware with text + picture annotations score higher than those who did not, indicating that text + picture annotations was most effective for vocabulary learning. To answer the second research question, that asked if perceptual learning styles influence the effectiveness of annotations each student was given a self-report questionnaire and categorized into groups according the their scored responses on the questionnaire. The results suggest that there seems to be little correlation between three versions of the courseware and the learning styles. With the exception of the auditory/visual group scoring significantly higher than those who received the text-only version, no other group showed any correlation between perceptual styles and the different vocabulary annotations. These findings fall in line with the premise of previous research that supports the hypothesis that text + visually annotations are most effective in multimedia second language learning. As mentioned earlier, this study explored the effect of dual annotations (text + picture) plus audio annotation. The students who received the courseware with text + picture + auditory proved to be ineffective. The researchers attributed this to the learning styles used in learning Chinese as opposed to English, the speech rate of the recorded annotations and the amount of time students were given to complete the tasks. Although findings in this study supported the overall hypothesis that text + picture annotations are most effective in the field of second language vocabulary acquisition, there were several limitations to the study. The researchers attempted to investigate the concept of auditory annotations which had not been widely researched before but failed to execute the study properly. Failure to give participants adequate time 6
  7. 7. to complete the tasks as well as presenting recorded audio at a speech rate that exceeded the users listening proficiency limited the study from providing sound research on the use of audio annotations. Although the research did not further our understanding of auditory annotations, the findings will help shape future studies. Thus far the research reviewed has been conducted on college level participants. The next study explores the use of different vocabulary annotations in multimedia programs designed for grade school children studying a foreign language. In a research study by Acha (2009, p.25), the following research question was proposed, which presentation mode of a multimedia program will help in learning more vocabulary in an unknown language: one with pictures, one with words or one combining both representations? The research participants were clearly stated as such: “…135 Spanish children (67 female, 68 male), 66 in Grade 3 (age M = 8 years) and 69 in Grade 4 (age M = 9 years).”(Acha, 2009) These children were from Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa, Spain attending a primary school that serviced middle to low socioeconomic populations from urban zones. All of the children were assessed by their teacher based on an exam given at the beginning of the school year as making normal progress in English language. Previous research findings conducted on adults support the premise that presenting words and pictures simultaneously in multimedia programs is more effective than words or pictures alone when learning second language vocabulary. It was hypothesized that since children’s cognitive ability is lower than adults, presenting words and pictures simultaneously in multimedia programs would not yield the same results. Each child was given access to a personal computer that presented an interactive multimedia short story. 7
  8. 8. The story consisted of 101 English words, 12 of which were inside a button: donkey, drawer, penknife, hammer, bricks, ladybird, waistcoat, bonnet, mittens, jug, tray and napkin. For each of these words different types of multimedia annotations were available. In addition to the use of personal computers the children were given a paper and pencil English vocabulary pre-test, post-test and a test of verbal and spatial ability. The vocabulary pretest consisted of 60 English words and the post test consisted of only the 12 annotated English words within the button. The children were instructed to write the meaning of the words they knew. The groups of children were randomly selected and assigned to three groups: “word only”, “picture only” and “word and picture”. Each child was given instruction on how to access the annotations for the words, how to use the mouse properly and they were also told that they needed to access the cues for each of the 12 words within the button because the learning task was to remember the meanings of these words. 20 minutes was allotted for the children to read the story twice and another 10 minutes was allotted for the students to fill out the post-test. The empirical evidence suggests that in a second language vocabulary program for children, presenting a word only is more effective than presenting just a picture representation of the word or a picture and the word simultaneously. These findings are in line with the proposed hypothesis theorizing that school age children’s limited cognitive ability affects second language vocabulary acquisition when a word is presented along with a picture. The researchers attribute these findings based on previous research on the effects of cognitive load on the working memory. Working memory refers to the structure and processes used for temporarily storing and manipulating 8
  9. 9. information. Cognitive load is defined as the effort used with thinking and reasoning that can interfere with other thought processes. “Cognitive load may occur when two types of stimuli that supply the same information (e.g., a written word and a picture related to the same concept) are perceived through the same information processing channel, which is a visual channel in this case.”(Acha, 2009, p.25) The presentation of both the word and the picture requires the child to exhaust more cognitive resources and is less effective in learning the task at hand. One limitation to the study was the time each child was allocated to reach each passage. Since the researchers were looking to assess vocabulary retention each child should have been given a longer time to read the passages. Setting a 20 minute time limit to complete the task suggests that the children could not retain many words in long term memory. Next, the topic of reading a foreign language text with multimedia aids according to cognitive load theory will be addressed. In a research study by Plass, Chun, Mayer & Leutner (2003), the authors of this study are concerned with the question of what role cognitive load plays in multimedia learning, and, in particular, how cognitive load affects the way learners with different cognitive abilities process verbal and visual information. The focus of the investigation was on English-speaking college students (N = 152), enrolled in a second-year German course. It is hypothesized that low-ability learners would be less likely to learn the translation of German words than high-ability learners when they were required to select and process both the verbal information of a foreign-language reading passage coupled with visual annotations for unknown vocabulary words. The researchers base this theory on the fact that low-ability learners use more cognitive resources when processing visual 9
  10. 10. and verbal information simultaneously. As stated earlier, 152 college students participated in the study, all of which were enrolled in a second-year German language course. Each student was given access to a personal computer loaded with an interactive multimedia version of a short story presented in German. Throughout the program selected vocabulary words were annotated with verbal or video multimedia annotations. A German vocabulary pre-test and post-test was administered to each student to assess vocabulary acquisition. The research finding supported the proposed hypothesis, as predicted when low-ability students processed verbal information from a reading text and had to simultaneously process visual annotations for vocabulary words within the text, they learned fewer vocabulary words in comparison to high-ability students. In Summary, the results of each of these studies provide implications for multimedia programmers who are developing new multimedia programs for second language instruction. In particular, programmers should be conscious of these findings and they should make an effort to include both visual and verbal annotations to accommodate the different learning styles of students. Pedagogical implications of these findings suggest that for some students multiple representations of information are not beneficial for all learners. In fact, for some students it can hinder learning for low-ability learners as well as grade school children. There are numerous instructional multimedia software packages and online multimedia websites for adults as well as children geared to foreign-language learning and we can assume many more are in the pre-production phase. In respect to this growing market, additional research is required to fully 10
  11. 11. understand the process of multimedia learning so that educators and their students can fully appreciate and benefit from this popular and growing field of technology. 11
  12. 12. References Acha, J. (2009). The Effectiveness of Multimedia Programmes in Children's Vocabulary Learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(1), 23-31. Al-Seghayer, K. (2001). The Effect of Multimedia Annotation Modes on L2 Vocabulary Acquistition: A Comparitive Study. Language Learning & Technology, 5(1), 202-232. Chun, D., & Plass, J. (1996). Effects of Multimedia Annotations on Vocabulary Acquisition. The Modern Language Journal, 80(2), 183-198. Mayer, R., & Moreno, R. (1998). A Split-Attention Effect in Multimedia Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 312-320. Mayer, R., & Moreno, R. (2002). Aids to computer-based multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction, 12(1), 107-119. Plass, J. L., Chun, D. M., Mayer, R. E., & Leutner, D. (2003). Cognitive Load in Reading a Foreign Language text with Multimedia Aids and the Influence of Verbal and Spatial Abilities. Computers in Human Behavior, 19, 221 - 243. Yeh, Y., & Wang, C. (2003). Effects of Multimedia Vocabulary Annotations and Learning Styles on Vocabulary Learning. CALICO Journal, 21(1), 131 - 144. 12

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