Could a multimodal dictionary serve as a learning tool? An examination of the impact of technologically enhanced visual glosses on L2 text comprehension

Takeshi Sato

Abstract

This study examines the efficacy of a multimodal online bilingual dictionary based on cognitive linguistics in order to explore the advantages and limitations of explicit multimodal L2 vocabulary learning. Previous studies have examined the efficacy of the verbal and visual representation of words while reading L2 texts, concluding that it facilitates incidental word retention. This study explores other potentials of multimodal L2 vocabulary learning: explicit learning with a multimodal dictionary could enhance not only word retention, but also text comprehension; the dictionary could serve not only as a reference tool, but also as a learning tool; and technology-enhanced visual glosses could facilitate deeper text comprehension. To verify these claims, this study investigates the multimodal representations’ effects on Japanese students learning L2 locative prepositions by developing two online dictionaries, one with static pictures and one with animations. The findings show the advantage of such dictionaries in explicit learning; however, no significant differences are found between the two types of visual glosses, either in the vocabulary or in the listening tests. This study confirms the effectiveness of multimodal L2 materials, but also emphasizes the need for further research into making the technologically enhanced materials more effective.

Keywords

animated image; explicit learning; multimodal glosses; online dictionary; prepositions; second vocabulary acquisition

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References

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