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L2 Vocabulary
Learning via Video and Pictures

Presenting an
individual lexical item simultaneously via multiple modes is one of the key
issues in L2 vocabulary acquisition. Also multimodal glosses (within a computer
program) have some studies of the efficacy on vocabulary acquisition. In
addition to traditional definitions of words, it is possible to provide
different types of information with multimedia applications, such as pictures
and videos.

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The effects of
video and pictures on L2 vocabulary learning especially within multimedia
environments have not been well explored. However, a wide research attention
has been assigned to the effect of visual information on comprehending texts
and learning other skills.

There are general
observations about the literature existing in teaching new vocabulary with the
use of video and pictures. It is important that selected pictures and video
segments depict meanings precisely and do not contain too much information. In
other words, they should be simple illustrations.  The research did not compare the effects of
videos and pictures on L2 vocabulary acquisition. Both seemed more effective
than other modes of presentation, particularly audio. This is simply because
students can visualize what the word means and relate the words to actual

Omaggio (1979)
conducted the first empirical study on the impact of pictures on reading
comprehension with beginning college French students. She found that pictures
produced a significant improvement in reading comprehension in French. The
focus of more recent research is narrowed to include studies on the effects of
visual imagery on L2 vocabulary acquisition. Oxford and Crookall (1990) stated
that most learners are capable of associating new information to concepts in
memory by means of meaningful visual images that make learning more efficient (In
a critical analysis of L2 vocabulary learning techniques). Visual imagery is
known to help learners collect information more efficiently than they could if
using just words alone. Moreover, since many parts of the brain is consisted of
the pictorial-verbal combination, it provides greater cognitive power (p. 17).

A study by
Snyder and Colon (1988) investigated the influence of both audio and visual
aids on facilitating second language acquisition. Two groups were taught for 7
weeks under two different conditions. One was exposed to a standard curriculum
with audio-visuals limited to overhead transparencies, audiotapes with
accompanying fill-in pictures, and slides. The other group was exposed to a
curriculum enriched with more audio-visual aids, such as additional overhead
transparencies, audio tapes and slides, as well as one bulletin board for
reviewing material, and another for students to bring in materials from home,
pictures from magazines, cut-out dolls to identify and reinforce names for
parts of the body, and picture flash cards. After both covered groups are
tested on the material, it was found that the group provided with additional
audio-visual aids performed significantly better in
vocabulary retention.

Kost, Foss, and
Lenzini (1999) carried out a study comparing the effects of pictorial and
textual glosses on incidental vocabulary growth for foreign language learners.
Participants were asked to read a passage under one of three glossing
conditions: textual gloss alone, pictorial gloss alone, and text combined with
pictures. It was better to provide tests of 14 words of both production and
recognition to see the performance of those who were allowed to use a
combination of text and picture. The theoretical explanation for such results,
the authors argue, is that processing information requires different degrees of
cognitive effort. The two different representations allow plotting of the
picture into one mental model and thereby provide a “stronger bond” than the
plotting of the words (p. 94).

A research has
been done on the efficacy of video in the domain of L2 vocabulary acquisition.
Neuman and Koskinen (1992) state that captioned video with sound provides a
semantically enriched context where the visual and the audio lend meaning to
the printed words on the screen. Learning vocabulary is been compared by this
study through watching television, through reading and listening to a document,
and through listening alone. Their results indicated that words were learned
and retained best from watching television.

listening to a dialogue with and without visual aids, Duquette and Painchaud
(1996) intended to determine which would better allow learners to guess the
meaning of new words. Participants listened to a dialogue on the subject of
driving a car under two conditions. Under the first condition, they listened to
a dialogue while a videotape played. Then they listened to the same dialogue
with only an audiotapeunder the second condition, Results indicated that the
learners in the video group made gains on 8 unfamiliar words out of a total of
40, whereas the audio- only group learned only 3. The authors speculated that
the “match between prominent visual cues and linguistic ones allows for the
inference of unfamiliar words” (p. 158).

The only study
that undertook to compare the effect of video clips and static pictures on
comprehension and retention of a written passage was carried out by Hanley,
Herron, and Cole (1995). Their study showed that a video clip is a more
effective organizer than a picture. Twenty-eight college students of French,
divided into two groups, took part in the study. Group One was shown a short
video clip with French narration. Group Two was presented the same narrative
with the teacher reading it aloud while presenting four still pictures of the
context. The students in Group One performed significantly better on a
comprehension and retention test than those in Group Two.Video aiding in
“conceptualizing language,” (linking language form to meaning),the authors
contended that the video clip proved to be more effective in aiding
comprehension and retention (p. 63).

Using of
multimedia to enhance L2 vocabulary acquisition is supported by the studies
altogether because it is a single interactive presentation environment for
diverse instructional resources which includes printed texts, photographs,
slides, and dynamic audio/video.Multimedia instructionhas varied and
interactive nature which makes reading, listening, and speaking engaging and
enjoyable. Additionally, the immediacy of access and student independence make
learning more efficient and effective. 
Finally, the combination of media enhances learning because words are
dually coded resulting in referential connections that are constructed between
the verbal and visual systems.


Duquette, L.,
&Painchaud, G. (1996). A Comparison of vocabulary acquisition in audio and
video contexts. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 54(1) 143-172.

Hanley, J.,
Herron, C., & Cole, S. (1995). Using video as advance organizer to a
written passage in the FLES classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 79(1),

Kost, C., Foss,
P., &Lenzini, J. (1999). Textual and pictorial gloss: Effectiveness on
incidental vocabulary growth when reading in a foreign language. Foreign
Language Annals, 32(1), 89-113.

Neuman, B.,
&Koskinen, P. (1992). Captioned television as comprehensible input: Effects
of incidental word learning from context for language minority students.
Reading Research Quarterly, 27(1), 95-106.

Omaggio, C.
(1979). Picture and second language comprehension: Do they help? Foreign
Language Annals, 12(2), 107-116.

Oxfored, R.,
&Crookall, D. (1990). Vocabulary learning: “A critical Analysis of
techniques.” TESL Canada Journal 7(2), 9-30.

Snyder, H.,
& Colon, I. (1988). Foreign language acquisition and audio-visual
aids.  Foreign Language Annals, 21(4),

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