Mobile Learning in Foreign Language Learning: Podcasts and Lexicon Acquisition in the Elementary Instruction of Italian

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This paper illustrates the research design (including the pilot study) of a work-in-progress study aimed at examining the potential of bilingual podcasts for the vocabulary acquisition in Italian as an L3 in the Austrian school context for beginning learners. The longitudinal study tries to link findings of the Lexical Approach (Lewis, 1993, 1997) and the Mental Lexicon (Aitchison, 2005) by taking into account lexical learning and the importance of spoken language for acquisition and by connecting them to the opportunities offered by podcasts as a means of mobile (micro) learning (cf. Hug, 2007a, 2007b, 2010a, 2010b; Hug & Friesen, 2007). In order to investigate the effects of podcasts on the lexical acquisition of Italian as an L3 two groups of participants will be analysed: (a) an experimental group (students use self-made, bilingual podcasts – German-Italian – to learn the lexical items), and (b) a control group (students are presented with lexical input without using podcasts). During the study, classroom teaching of the two groups will be observed in order to conduct a third-party-observation (cf. Bortz & Döring, 2009) of the participants and to compare and contrast their lexical input. A pre- and a post-test of lexical acquisition will be carried out at the beginning and the end of the observation period. As the use of podcasts as a tool of mobile learning might considerably change the vocabulary learning strategies of the participants in the experimental group, a questionnaire at the beginning and the end of the study will be applied in addition. It is assumed that, due to the Lexical Approach and the Mental Lexicon and enhanced by the mobile nature of the podcasts, the experimental group will achieve a higher increase of Italian lexicon than the control group. However, the executed pilot study has revealed weaknesses in the research design, which have to be adapted for the final case study.

Keywords: lexicon, mobile learning, Italian.


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Unterrainer, Eva Maria. (2012). Mobile Learning in Foreign Language Learning: Podcasts and Lexicon Acquisition in the Elementary Instruction of Italian. In Linda Bradley, Sylvie Thouësny (Eds), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, EUROCALL Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012, Proceedings (pp. 296-301).

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