Computer or mobile-based English enhancement programs are gaining popularity among English language learners around the world. A recent publication in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness investigated the effects of these technology-assisted interventions on expanding English language learners’ vocabulary.
The paper synthesized studies conducted between 2012 to 2018. Eligible studies followed treatment-control experimental designs, targeted pre-school to college-aged students who learned English as a foreign language, and reported vocabulary-related learning outcomes. Researchers identified 45 studies that met these inclusion criteria.
- Compared with traditional instructional methods, technology-supported English learning programs were conducive for building vocabulary (ES = +0.85, p < .05).
- Detailed analysis revealed that mobile-assisted vocabulary learning (ES = +1.09, p < .05) was more effective than computer-assisted learning (ES = +0.63, p < .05).
- Contrary to common assumptions, technology without gamification (ES = +0.90, p < .05) was more effective than game-based technology (ES = +0.49, p < .05).
- Nonetheless, both game-based and non-game-based interventions had larger impacts than traditional methods.
- One interesting finding was that learning in informal settings (ES = +1.37, p < .05) was more effective than learning in classrooms (ES = +0.53, p < .05).
- Test format also mattered for learning outcomes: fill-in-the-blank was more effective than multiple choice.
This research supports the use of mobile-based programs outside classrooms for supplementary English language learning. As a side note, the authors recommended providing more instructional support for young learners to adapt to technology if such programs are to be implemented among elementary or pre-K students.
Source: Hao, T., Wang, Z., & Ardasheva, Y. (2021). Technology-Assisted Vocabulary Learning for EFL Learners: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 0(0), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2021.1917028