First Advisor

Marjorie Terdal

Term of Graduation

Winter 1994

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers -- Audio-visual aids, Comprehension, Video tapes in education



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, iv, 77 pages)


This study was meant to provide empirical evidence to support or challenge the assumption that a nonfiction video narrative will be better comprehended by students of ESL if it includes a variety of relevant visual information compared to only seeing a single speaker or "talking head" reciting a narration. The overarching goal of this study was to give teachers of ESL greater knowledge and confidence in using video materials to develop the listening skills of their students. It compared two video tapes which contained the identical soundtrack but different visual information.

The first tape (also called the "lecture tape") showed a single speaker, standing behind a lectern, giving a speech about Costa Rica. The second video (also called the "documentary tape") contained the identical soundtrack of tape one, but included documentary video footage actually filmed in Costa Rica which complemented the narration. A questionnaire of 45 true/false questions was created based on facts given in the narration.

Thirty-nine advanced and fifty-five intermediate university ESL students took part in the study. Approximately half of each group viewed the lecture tape while the other half watched the documentary tape. All students answered the 45 - item questionnaire while viewing their respective video tapes. A thorough item-analysis was then conducted with the initial raw scores of all 94 students, resulting in fifteen questions being omitted from the final analysis. Based on a revised 30 - item questionnaire, the scores of the video and documentary groups were compared within each proficiency level.

The hypothesis of the study was that the documentary tape would significantly improve listening comprehension at the intermediate level but that no significant difference would be found between the advanced lecture and documentary groups. In other words, it was predicted that the documentary video would have an interaction effect depending upon proficiency level. However, the results of a 2-way ANOVA did not support the hypothesis. In addition to the ANOVA, a series oft-tests also found no significant difference between the mean scores of the documentary and lecture groups at either the intermediate or the advanced levels

This study was intended to be a beginning to research which may eventually reveal a "taxonomy" of video images from those which enhance listening comprehension the most to those that aid it the least. It contained limitations in the testing procedures which caused the results to be inconclusive. A variety of testing methods was suggested in order to continue research which may reveal such a "video" taxonomy. Given the plethora of video materials that ESL teachers can purchase, record, or create themselves, empirical research is needed to help guide the choices that educators make in choosing video material for their students which will provide meaningful linguistic input.


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