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Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts




Webb, Stuart


This meta-analysis investigates the contributions of viewing audiovisual input on second language (L2) learning. We calculated 75 effect sizes from 56 experiments (n = 1954). We assessed the effects of audiovisual input on language learning using a within-group (pre-post) meta-analytic approach. The extent to which fifteen moderator variables influenced results was assessed. Several methodologically and pedagogically relevant results were found. Results showed that a) there was a medium effect of audiovisual input on L2 learning (g = 1.01); b) no differences were found between the effects of viewing audiovisual input on different areas of L2 learning (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, listening proficiency); and c) video category had a significant impact on L2 learning with entertainment-focused videos (e.g., TV series, movies, and mixed videos) yielding lower effects than educational videos (e.g., TED Talks, documentaries, and language-focused). These findings along with future research directions for L2 learning through audiovisual input are discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

In recent years there has been a large amount of research published that focuses on second language (L2) learning through viewing audiovisual input. These studies typically focus on various types of videos such as movies, TV series, and documentaries among others. Since there have been many studies focusing on learning through viewing audiovisual materials, there is a large amount of data that indicates the benefits of audiovisual input for L2 learning. However, these studies may not be directly compared due to varying methodological choices such as the type of L2 test used, the type of video used, participant demographics, and the area of L2 learning (e.g., vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation). Moreover, it is difficult to understand the extent to which viewing audiovisual materials contributes to L2 learning because there is a lot of variation in the results across studies.

In such cases, a meta-analysis can be conducted to directly compare the various studies. A meta-analysis standardizes the effect of each study so that they can be directly compared, and then pools these effects. This allows researchers to assess the overall impact of a treatment and allows them to assess the influence that certain variables may have on the outcome variable.

This study meta-analyzed research involving learning a L2 through viewing audiovisual input. In total, 56 studies that investigated L2 learning through viewing audiovisual input were analyzed. Methodological variables such as participants’ first language, age, target L2 (e.g., grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary), and variables related to the types of tests taken were analyzed as moderator variables (i.e., variables which may have an effect on the learning outcome) .

Overall findings of the meta-analysis showed that viewing audiovisual materials has a medium effect on L2 learning. Results also showed that audiovisual input does not benefit one area of L2 learning significantly more than others. These findings are important for real-world use as they suggest that not only can watching videos help second language learners, but that several areas of second language learning can benefit from watching video.