Mass Media as a Remedy for Poverty of the Stimulus in the Foreign Language Context

Samaneh Tarighat


The present study is intended to determine how extensive exposure to target language mass media can affect foreign language learning and the poverty of the stimulus problem in the foreign language context. For this purpose, an EFL learner was studied for the period of one month and was asked to have extensive exposure to English language mass media only. The case was also asked to record her experience in a journal on a daily basis. The results indicated tangible improvement in her English speaking, listening, pronunciation and vocabulary but hardly any improvement on her English writing. A more profound impact was reported on the subject’s four-year-old son who was not initially the focus of this study. The results suggest that considering the authentic, lengthy language input it provides, foreign language mass media can compensate for the problem of poverty of the stimulus in foreign language learning. It is concluded that formal language instruction and exposure to foreign language mass media outside the class can complement one another and promote foreign language learning on the whole. It is also evident that the impact of extensive language input varies with the age of the language learner, with young learners bearing more influence than adult learners as the effects of the critical period hypothesis.



Poverty of the Stimulus, Mass Media, Second Language Acquisition, Foreign Language Context, Foreign Language Learning

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