Oxford University Press

English Language Teaching Global Blog


Evaluating Multimedia Language Learning

Young man working at a computer and smilingZöe Handley is an OUP Research Fellow in Applied Linguistics at the Department of Education, Oxford University, which has recently conducted a systematic review of the research on the use of new technologies in EFL, particularly at primary and secondary level. This post is the first in a series to introduce and examine that research. An accompanying video interview with Zöe will be available soon.

Multimedia has long been used in language learning to respond to students’ different learning styles, but what evidence is there for its effectiveness?

In our review, we identified nine studies involving multimedia. The majority focused on vocabulary. I will use three of these studies to illustrate the available evidence for the effectiveness of the use of multimedia in language learning.

All three studies present positive findings with respect to the use of multimedia, but to different degrees. Let’s take a look at each study in turn.

Broad media comparison

The first study is an example of a broad media comparison in which multimedia software is compared with traditional classroom instruction.

The study (Tsou et al., 2002) compared a word learning system which integrated graphics and animations to illustrate function words with traditional classroom instruction. It found that students who received multimedia instruction improved more and were more motivated than those who received traditional classroom instruction.

Single media comparison

The second study is an example of a media comparison which focuses on just one medium, namely video. It compares traditional instruction plus video with traditional instruction alone.

Continue reading