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A comparison of audio-only versus audio-visual second language instruction in first-year university-level Spanish

, Texas Tech University, United States

Texas Tech University . Awarded


Research into second language acquisition has shifted in the last three decades from an emphasis on language teaching to a concentration on second language learning. Researchers' new agenda looks closely at learner styles and the learner process. When students in a university setting take second language courses, they are usually required to spend a considerable amount of time completing activities in the language learning laboratory during their first four semesters of study in the foreign language. A new form of language learning laboratory exercise includes the use of videos. Many university language learning laboratories are replacing the commonly used cassette tape exercises in order to employ audio-visual learning programs. However, little research exists to demonstrate which form, audio-only or audio-visual, of language learning laboratory activity more efficaciously aids students in acquiring their second language.

Listening and reading are often paired as receptive skills because they do not require the same type of production that speaking and writing do. Students generally spend much of their time listening to cassettes and reading along with the tapes in workbooks as a part of their language learning laboratory activities. Therefore, I chose to study the acquisition of skills in listening and reading and the combination of listening and reading as a component of my investigation of the language learning laboratory.

This dissertation investigated the use of audio-only versus audio-visual language learning laboratory activities to learn which, if either, was more useful for aiding students in their first year of university level foreign language instruction to build skills in reading and listening and the combination of listening and reading in their second language, which was Spanish.

A one semester study was conducted with all seven sections of Spanish 1501, the first semester of Spanish instruction, at Texas Tech. Participants of the experiment were divided naturally into two groups, the morning group and the afternoon group. I met with each of the groups one day per week for 50 minutes and conducted their language learning laboratory activities during the fall 1997 semester.

For the first half of the semester the morning group received audio-only language learning laboratory instruction while the afternoon group performed audio-visual activities. After taking a mid-term listening, reading and listening/reading combination comprehension exam, the morning and afternoon group changed their language learning laboratory activities so that the morning group received audio-visual instruction and the afternoon group received audio-only instruction. At the end of the semester, participants took a final listening, reading and listening/reading combined comprehension exam. In addition, students filled out surveys which investigated student opinions about the usefulness of the language learning laboratory for building listening and reading skills in the second language on the first and last days of class.

The study used materials from the “Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish” series.

Results from the experiment demonstrate that audio-only activities were more effective for building skills in reading in Spanish. However, there was no difference between audio-only and audio-visual activities for building skills in listening and the combination of listening and reading in Spanish. Students' preference surveys illustrate that participants prefer to learn a language with the use of audio-visual language learning laboratory activities.


Ware, T.L. A comparison of audio-only versus audio-visual second language instruction in first-year university-level Spanish. Ph.D. thesis, Texas Tech University. Retrieved March 22, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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