Digital flashcard L2 Vocabulary learning out-performs traditional flashcards at lower proficiency levels: A mixed-methods study of 139 Japanese university students

Robert John Ashcroft, Robert Cvitkovic, Max Praver

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of using digital flashcards on L2 vocabulary learning compared to using paper flashcards, at different levels of English proficiency. Although flashcards are generally believed to be one of the most efficient vocabulary study techniques available, little empirical data is available in terms of the comparative effectiveness of digital flashcards, and at different levels of student English proficiency. This study used a mixed-methods experimental design. The between-subjects factor was English Proficiency consisting of three groups: basic, intermediate and advanced. All participants underwent both a digital flashcards treatment and paper flashcards treatment using words from the Academic Words List. For each study mode, the two dependent variables were Immediate, and Delayed Relative Vocabulary Gain. The results of this study indicated that Japanese university students of lower levels of English proficiency have significantly higher vocabulary learning gains when using digital flashcards than when using paper flashcards. Students at higher levels of proficiency performed equally well using both study modes. It appears that by compensating for the gap in metacognitive awareness and effective learning strategies between students of lower and higher levels of language proficiency, digital flashcards may provide the additional support lower-level learners need to match their advanced-level peers in terms of their rate of deliberate vocabulary acquisition.


Keywords

Vocabulary; Digital Flashcards; Paired-associates; Autonomy; English Proficiency; Academic Words List

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References

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