Karlijn Leeflang (2007)
Visualisations: do they really facilitate Foreign Language Learning?
Master's thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
[ Paper (PDF, 1633 kb) ]

Abstract

For many years now visualisations are being used to facilitate foreign language vocabulary learning. Not only in traditional foreign language education, but ever more in an electronic environment.

Many studies have been done to find out if these visualisations used in electronic foreign language learning programmes facilitate the learner. Up to now most studies conclude that the visualisations have a facilitating effect, which is in line with theories about learning from several input modes.

In this study other results were found. It appears that either the learning environment (words learned with or without a context), and / or the type of test (recognition or reproduction) can significantly influence the outcome of the experiment.

Furthermore there are still several unanswered questions regarding which words these visualisations can depict and which type of visualisation is best suited to depict a certain word. In this study I addressed three of these topics. First of all, I researched if words from different word categories (nouns, verbs and adjectives) can be visualised equally well. Results from this study show that there does not appear to be a difference between the facilitating effect of visualisations of different word categories. Secondly, I researched if words from different levels of concreteness (concrete, middle or abstract) can be visualised equally well. Results from this study show that there is no difference between the facilitating effect of visualisations of words from different levels of concreteness. Finally I researched which type of visualisation (animation, photo or picture) is best suited for facilitating the learning of words from different categories and different levels of concreteness. Here the results show that photos yielded the best overall results regarding score, but that pictures yielded the best overall results regarding time.