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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of visual format and mode of presentation on nonnative speaker comprehension of verbal information Fitzpatrick, Dale Mary


The purpose of this study was to gather data on nonnative speakers' comprehension of spoken language presented via the audio mode (sound only) or the video mode (sound + picture). More specifically, the research examined the effects of three visual formats (or picture content)--contained in the video channel—on comprehension of verbal information carried in the audio channel of broadcast news stories. The three visual formats under investigation were: (1) high redundancy (HR): voice-over-film with similar verbal and visual content; (2) low redundancy (LR): voice-over-film with dissimilar verbal and visual content, and (3) talking head: newscaster only presentation, without film. A smaller follow-up study examined the effect of visuals with a group of subjects of higher second-language proficiency. The procedure utilized a between-and-within-subjects design and nine news stories videotaped from CBC television, categorized according to visual format. Stimulus news stories were presented to subjects via either the video or audio mode. After each story, actual comprehension o£ verbal information was measured using a test of cued-recall and perceived language comprehension was measured using a self-reporting question. In the video mode, subjects were also asked to rate the difficulty of each story. The results of an analysis of variance indicated that, under the conditions of the present study, subjects scored significantly higher on a test o£ cued recall when news stories were presented via the video mode. Significant differences were also found between language comprehension scores for each of the visual formats. Highest scores were obtained for the HR stories, and lowest scores for the TH stories. From the results of the follow-up study, it appears the comprehension-facilitating effect of visuals is not as strong for subjects of higher proficiency. Results are discussed in light of literature on media and learning, the relationship between aural and visual channels, visual format effects and television news, listening comprehension, and visual information processing. Implications and suggestions for further study are presented.

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