Video clips increase vocabulary for ELLs

iStock_000003267167XSmallEnglish Language Learners (ELLs)in grades K-2 learned new vocabulary faster when words read aloud from a text were reinforced with video clips, finds a recent study in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

The multimedia enhancements had little effect on students who spoke English as a first language, but ELLs whose teachers used video clips to reinforce new vocabulary scored better on vocabulary measures than ELLs who simply learned the vocabulary in a read-aloud context.

“It may be that for ELL children who have a difficult time understanding the verbal definitions of words, representing words in more than one way may supplement and clarify the instructional dialogue and provide children with the additional information they need to make sense of the words they are learning,” the authors write.

Some previous research found no effect from multimedia enhancement on vocabulary, but teachers in this intervention provided instructional support, the authors note.

“In the multimedia-enhanced intervention in this study, teachers guided children to notice words in the video and scaffolded children’s word learning by discussing words in the context of the video,” the researchers write. “It is likely that just showing the video to the children instead of using the video as part of a multifaceted vocabulary intervention would not have been as effective.”

Participating in the study were 85 children and 8 teachers in grades K-2 in a semiurban public school in the northeast. All teachers used a scripted science lesson on habitats (rainforests, savannahs, coral reefs, etc.) for 45 minutes per day for 3 days a week over the course of 12 weeks. Classes read one book per week on habitats and 8 target words were chosen from each book or about 100 words for the 12-week intervention. Some of the words chosen for the rainforest habitat, for example, were creature, rare, depend, tropical, territory and dangerous. The same books and words were used at all grade levels in the study.

Video clips were obtained from several DVDS on animals, deep sea diving, a safari and the tropical rain forest. In the 1st lesson of the week, teachers read through the book and then introduced four new vocabulary words and played word games such as “Finish my sentence”. In the 2nd lesson of the week, teachers reintroduced the book, reviewed vocabulary words from the first lesson and then introduced 4 new vocabulary words as well as played word games.

In the 3rd lesson of the week, teachers in the multimedia condition used a 5-min-video clip to reinforce target vocabulary words while those in the control condition reintroduced the book and reviewed the target words from the previous 2 lessons.

While children in the group that used video clips performed better in vocabulary than ELLs that were not exposed to video, there was no effect on science concepts knowledge.

Use of multimedia enhancements may be one tool educators can use to build the vocabulary of ELLs so that they can catch up to their peers, the researchers report.

“The Effects of Multimedia-Enhanced Instruction on the Vocabulary of English-Language Learners and Non-English-Language Learners in Pre-Kindergarten Through Second Grade,” by Rebecca Silverman and Sara Hines, Journal of Educational Psychology, Volume 101, Number 2, pp. 305-314.

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