Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

The Effect of a Student Video Project on Vocabulary Retention of First-Year Secondary School German Students

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

The Effect of a Student Video Project on Vocabulary Retention of First-Year Secondary School German Students

Article excerpt


The present study is an attempt to fill the void of specific research-supported information on types of interactive vocabulary learning. The study, conducted with 272 participants randomly assigned to experimental and control groups, examines the relationship between interactive, output-dominant vocabulary practice and students' achievement on vocabulary recall tests. The interactive practice took the form of video projects, assignments in which teams performed in specific conversational situations captured by video. The participants in the experimental groups prepared video fashion shows, while the students in the control groups completed worksheet assignments. The 2×2 mixed ANOVA (F =24.748, p = .000) and ANCOVA (F =14.877, p = .000) revealed that although both groups improved their performance, the experimental group showed a higher gain in scores over time.

Key words: communicative language activities, interactive language learning, language teaching, methodology, video-assisted instruction, vocabulary retention

Language: German


The shift from a teacher-fronted classroom toward communicative language teaching prompts researchers to explore classroom techniques that promote active language use in communicative contexts. In order to communicate effectively, foreign language students need to learn sufficient vocabulary and be able to use the words in real-life situations. There is a growing interest in designing activities that maximize student involvement to benefit vocabulary acquisition. From this perspective, the present study is an attempt to examine the benefits of student video projects for vocabulary instruction.

Background of the Problem

The past few decades have experienced a renewed interest in language learning, as well as a greater recognition of its place in the curriculum. Researchers and practitioners alike seem to agree that communication should be given the top priority. This consensus is reflected in Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century (National Standards, 1996), where the ability to use language in real situations and "to respond meaningfully in appropriate ways" (p. 38) is highlighted.

In the mid-1980s, researchers began investigating the importance of the learner's output, that is, the language produced by the student, in the process of interaction. The conclusions from studies by Swain (1995), Fischer, Bullock, Rotenberg, and Raya (1993), and Firth and Wagner (1997) support the new focus on output and improved student performance.

Too often, teachers are tempted to move on when their students can recognize the right words but cannot actually produce them. However, just the ability to listen and understand (receptive knowledge) will not enable learners to carry on meaningful conversations. To accomplish the goal of communication, students need to accurately recall vocabulary (Atkins & Baddeley, 1998).

The influence of what became known as the functional or communicative curricular approach has been considerable, and it not only affected schools in the United States but spread to other countries as well. Savignon (1984) called it "a universal effort that has found inspiration and direction in the interaction of initiatives, both theoretical and applied" (p. v). The communicative approach is frequently contrasted with the traditional or so-called grammatical approach, which emphasizes linguistic forms and the ways in which they can be combined into grammatical sentences (Canale & Swain, 1980). The distinction has been made between purely structural competence and communicative competence, the structural study of language and the language as a communication tool (Conoscenti, 1997). Healy et al. (1998) have stressed the necessity of having a working command of the language.

The role of context in communicative competence theory has been given its fair share of attention in research. …

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