Vocabulary acquisition through audio(-visual) input: how to measure learning gains?
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AbstractRecently, there has been an increasing interest in second language vocabulary acquisition through audio(-visual) input (e.g., Montero Perez et al., 2014; van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013). A comparison of those studies shows that different types of designs as well as of vocabulary measures have been used. This study aims to discuss the methodological challenges in research into vocabulary acquisition through audio(-visual) input. Our talk begins by looking at the design of studies using audio(-visual) input. Second, we will address the selection of the target items and discuss the advantages and pitfalls of using either authentic items or pseudowords in terms of prior knowledge, authenticity, and controllability. Next, we will focus on vocabulary measures, specifically (1) the number and sensitivity of the measures to assess partial knowledge, i.e., different types of form/meaning recognition tests and meaning recall tests and the potential of in-depth interviews to elicit partial learning gains, (2) the format of the tests, i.e., aural and/or written target item presentation, (3) the use of delayed posttests and (4) the use of distracter items. A fourth issue we will discuss is the use of measures to take into account learner differences, such as learners’ vocabulary size, which is not only related to successful listening but also to general language proficiency. Finally, the potential impact of data collection procedures, i.e., testing participants in groups or individually, will be addressed. Our findings seem to point to a trade-off between ecological validity and experimental control. We will conclude by formulating methodological suggestions for future research. References: Montero Perez, M., Peters, E., Clarebout, G., & Desmet, P. (2014). Effects of captioning on video comprehension and incidental vocabulary learning. Language Learning & Technology, 18, 118-141. van Zeeland, H., & Schmitt, N. (2013). Incidental vocabulary acquisition through L2 listening: A dimensions approach. System, 41(3), 609–624.
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