Investigation of the cell phone video recording feature by Japanese undergraduate EFL learners

Gromik, Nicolas A. (2013) Investigation of the cell phone video recording feature by Japanese undergraduate EFL learners. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Japanese students are renowned for their ability to master reading comprehension and for their retention of vocabulary and grammatical structures. They are also renowned for their shyness with speaking English. Research emerging out of Japan has often reported on studies to enhance reading, writing, and listening skills, often because it is easy to develop testing materials or use technology to enhance these skills. But limited research from Japan has investigated methods and approaches for enhancing autonomous speaking skills.

Research studies about cell phone integration in education have investigated the use of Short Message Service (SMS) for enhancing students' writing skills and the use of the photo camera to establish users' identities and to engage students to document class content. Research out of Japan has explored the social impact of cell phones and some educationalists have explored the merit of using this tool to expose students to specific target language lexical items.

This thesis reports on a single holistic case study to investigate the potential of the cell phone video recording feature to enhance students' speaking abilities. Sixty-seven Japanese second year university undergraduate English learners, in four different classes, used the video recording feature on their cell phones to produce weekly video productions. The task required participants to produce thirteen, 30-second videos in English on various teacher-selected topics. One video per week, per student, over thirteen weeks, was produced. The purpose of this research was to investigate the impact of using the video recording feature regularly to enhance oral performance in the target language.

To enhance student content production, some researchers have argued that by combining content learning with sustained practice and project-based learning, educators can increase students' acquisition and eventually improve retention. Thus by combining language learning with independent learning, technology-assisted learning and project-based learning, it is anticipated that students would be able to become more confident speakers. The learning outcomes are based on active learning, as the students learn by using both the technology and the target language to construct content on a given topic. Through the construction of videos, students learn to operate the technology to produce suitable visual resources. They also learn to use the language to express their opinions and to use their voices effectively to produce comprehensible audio resources. Cell phone technology provides students the opportunity to produce videos anytime and anywhere. By producing these videos on a regular basis in locations of their choice, they are learning to represent their knowledge through videos. Students are also encouraged to keep track of their videos, thus potentially enhancing their ability to improve their audiovisual performances.

Consequently, this research was guided by a simple research question: Is the cell phone video recording feature a suitable learning tool for Japanese students learning to speak English? The proposition is that using the cell phone video recording feature regularly to produce audiovisual content in the target language will enhance students' speaking abilities. To address this research question and to accept or refute this proposition, both qualitative and quantitative data was utilised to evaluate students' performances. Five units of analysis were established. First, the video speeches were transcribed and analysed in terms of words spoken per second. Second, the cell phone video content was viewed to establish location and visual cues participants used to enhance viewer comprehension. Third, students were also required to fill in a weekly report to document their video recording process and strategies. Fourth, students were invited for a video recorded interview organised in two stages. In the first stage, students demonstrated their video production process. In the second stage, they were interviewed regarding their production process as well as their opinion of the project. Finally, students also completed pre- and post-intervention surveys to collect their opinions of the project.

Data were analysed by comparing students' individual performances at the beginning and end of the term. Individual student's data were also compared against the peers in their class and against the data from other peers in other classes, so as to understand the significance of the individual student's performances. The weekly video performances indicated that some students were able to increase the number of words they spoke in their speeches over the length of the term. The feedback gathered from the weekly reports indicated that students used different strategies to produce their speeches and their videos. The responses suggested that these change depending on the perceived difficulty of the weekly topic. The pre- and post-intervention surveys indicated that participants believed that using the cell phone video recording feature was a useful activity. However, they did not believe that such a task was practical for other courses. The discussion emphasises that students were able to make progress and they believed that the video recording feature on their cell phones was a suitable educational tool.

The thesis identified some recommendations for future research, both with regards to using cell phones as learning tools and engaging students to speak more spontaneously. The thesis outlined some areas for further research, such as the need to conduct a study which can provide more generalisable evidence, as well as the need to define a better method for identifying extreme cases.

The thesis has reviewed the selected literature with depth and breadth so as to be able to contribute crucial evidence that adds to the current research on the educational benefits of using cell phones as learning tools in the language classroom. In particular, it identified the processes that enhanced and constrained students from using the technology and the target language effectively to produce comprehensible and viewable audiovisual resources. While keeping generalisability in mind, the evidence collected through this case study revealed that whereas in the past researchers focused on using cell phones to enhance reading and writing skills, this thesis suggested that it is now possible to use the video recording feature to enhance learners' speaking skills.

Item ID: 40269
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: audio-visual aids; cell phones; educational technology; EFL; English as a foreign language; English as a second language; English for speakers of other languages; English language; ESL; ESOL; foreign speakers; Higher education; instruction technologies; Japanese students; languages other than English; LOTE; mobile phones; study and teaching; teaching English to speakers of other languages; TESOL; video cell phone; video phone; video recordings; video telephone
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Gromik, Nicolas, and Anderson, Neil (2010) Cell phone technology and second language acquisition: an action research experiment. In: Proceedings of the 5th QS-APPLE Conference, pp. 21-37. From: 5th QS-APPLE - Fifth QS Asia Pacific Professional Leaders in Education Conference and Exhibition, 24-26 November 2009, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2015 06:56
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing @ 34%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130207 LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl Maori) @ 33%
13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 33%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies @ 100%
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