The potential for learning vocabulary through watching L2

Friday, 3 March 2017 - 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Stuart Webb, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Western Ontario
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There are many studies that have shown that L1 and L2 words can be learned incidentally through reading (e.g., Nagy, Herman, & Anderson, 1985; Waring & Takaki, 2003). Research has also shown that L1 and L2 vocabulary can be learned incidentally through listening (e.g., Elley, 1989; van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013). Several studies have investigated second language (L2) incidental vocabulary learning through watching videos (e.g. Sydorenko, 2010; Winke, Gass, & Sydorenko, 2010).   However, the videos used in most studies have been relatively short, and included a variety of learner-centered video genres such as lectures and educational series. This research is valuable as it provides evidence that L2 incidental vocabulary learning can occur through watching video. However, it is unclear whether full-length television programs, which are perhaps the most likely type of video to be watched by L2 learners, contribute to incidental vocabulary learning. In this talk I will discuss two recent studies that have investigated the extent to which L2 words might be learned through watching a full length BBC documentary (Peters & Webb, in preparation) and watching 10 episodes of a television program (Rodgers & Webb, under review). The pedagogical and research implications of the findings will be discussed in detail.

About the speaker

Stuart Webb is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Western Ontario. Before teaching applied linguistics, he taught English as a foreign language in Japan and China for many years. His research interests include vocabulary, second language acquisition, and extensive reading, listening, and viewing. His latest book (with Paul Nation), How Vocabulary is Learned will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017.