An Investigation into the Modality Specificity of L2 Learners' STM Abilities in Learning Vocabulary via PDAs

Saeed Khazaie, Mohsen Jannejad, Zahra Ahmadpour Kasgari


Parallel with the rapid growth of wireless technology and potentials of mobile learning for language teaching/learning, employing mobile devices in language learning seems indispensable. To this end, designing learning materials suitable for different types of mobile devices regarding dual coding (DCT) and cognitive load (CLT) theories seems inevitable. In this study, multimedia were employed for designing two types of learning materials. Since short-term memory plays an important role in language learning, learners’ visual and verbal short-term memories were taken into consideration, too. 161 L2 Learners aged 19 and 23 years old participated in the major phases of an experiment via personal digital assistant (PDA). Based on their scores on the English vocabulary recognition and recall (EVRR) tests and the statistical analysis of the results, it was revealed that delivery of learning materials with pictorial and written annotations combined rather than delivery of learning materials without such annotations to learners with high-visual and high-verbal abilities, learners with high-visual but low-verbal ability, and learners with low-visual but high-verbal ability results in better vocabulary learning outcomes. However, this was not the case for learners with low-visual and low-verbal abilities. This study acknowledges the relation between STM and the relevant modalities of materials presentation.



Mobile learning, PDA, Verbal and visual ability, Vocabulary learning

Full Text:



Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K.W. Spence & J. T. Spence (Eds.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 2, 89-195.

Bauman (1995). About the GSL. Retrieved March 20, 2009 from

Brown, J. D. (1988). Understanding research in second language learning. Cambridge University Press.

Bull, S., & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2009). Theory- based support for mobile language learning: Noticing and recording. iJIM, 3(2), 12-18.

Chen, C. M., Lee, H. M., & Chen, Y. (2005). Personalized e-learning system using item response theory. Computers and Education, 44(3), 237-255.

Chen, Ch.-M., & Chung, Ch.-J. (2008). Personalized mobile English vocabulary learning system based on item-response theory and learning memory cycle [Abstract]. Journal of Computer and Education, 51 (2), 624-645.

Chen, Ch.-M., & Hsu, sh.-H. (2008). Personalized mobile learning system for supportive effective English learning. Educational Technology and Society, 11 (3), 153-180.

Chen, N.-S., Hsieh, sh.-W., & Kinshuk. (2008). The effects of short-term memory and content representation type on mobile language learning. Journal of Learning and Technology, 12, 93-113.

Chun, D. M., & Plass, J. L. (1996). Effects of multimedia annotations on vocabulary acquisition [Abstract]. The Modern Language Journal, 80, 183-198.

Coe, N., & Fowler, W. S. (1976). Nelson English Language Tests. London: Butler and Tanner Ltd.

Conacher, J. (2009, November). Using technologies in learning, teaching and research: Challenges and opportunities for the language Profession. Paper presented at the conference of Technology Enhanced Language Teaching and Learning, London, Vernon.

Cui, G., & Wang, Sh. (2008). Adopting cell phones in EFL teaching and learning. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 1, 69-80.

Ellis, N.C. (1996). Working memory in the acquisition of vocabulary and syntax: Putting language in good order. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 49(1), 234-250.

Entekhabi, N., Haghshenas, A. M., & Samei, H. (2003). Millennium English–Persian dictionary. Tehran: Farhang Moaser Publishers.

Greffe, Ch., Linden, M.V., Majerus, S., & Poncelet, M. (2005). Relations between vocabulary development and verbal short–term memory: The relative importance of short-term memory for serial order and item information. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 93 (2), 95-119.

Gupta, P., & Whinney, B. M. (1997). Vocabulary acquisition and verbal short-term memory: computational and neural bases. Brain and Language, 59, 267-333.

Hopper, H. U., Joiner, R., Milrad, M., & Shrples, M. (2003). Guest editorial: wireless and mobile technology in education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, (19), 255-259.

Hully, J., Proctor, S., & Richards, J. C., (2005). New Interchange (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

John Eng, M. D. (2003). Sample size estimation: how many individuals should be studied? Radiology, 227, 309-313.

Jones, L., (2004). Testing L2 vocabulary recognition and recall. Learning and Technology, 8(3), 122-143.

Kennedy, C. & Levy, M. (2008). Using SMS to support beginners' language learning. Recall,20 (3), 315-330.

Klas, W. & Zaharieva, M. (2004). Mobilearn: An open approach for structuring content for mobile learning environments (pp. 114-124). Berlin: Springer.

Kumar, M. (2004). A critical discourse in multimedia design. E-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology, 7 (2), 1-8.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English (4th ed.). England: Pearson Education Limited.

Mayer, R. E., 1979. Can advance organizers influence meaningful learning? Review of Educational Research, 49(2), 371-383.

Mayer R.E. (2003). Elements of a science of e-learning. Educational Computing Research, 29 (3), 297-313.

Mayer, R. E., Sobko, K., & Mautone, P. D. (2003). Social cues in multimedia learning: Role of speaker's voice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 419-425.

Mayer, R. E. (Ed.) (2005). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. Cambridge University Press.

Rate of influencing cell phones will reach to 61 percent at the end of the year 2008. Retrieved February 12, 2010 from

Montgomery, D. C. (1991). Design and analysis of the experiments. NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Nation, P. & Waring, R. (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. UK: Oxford University Press.

Pieri, M. & Diamantini, D. (2008). From e-learning to mobile learning: New opportunities. International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 4 (2-3), 176-188.

Richards, J. C., & Schmidt, R. (2002). Dictionary of language and applied linguistics (3rd ed.). England: A Pearson Education Book.

Reis, J. C., Bonacian, R. & Martins, M. C. (2009). Using multimedia in the mobile collaborative learning. Research, Reflection, and Innovation in Integrating ICT in Education, 869-873.

Sharples, M. (2000). The design of personal mobile technologies for lifelong learning. Computer and Education, 34 (4), 177-193.

Sweller, J. (1988) Cognitive load during Problem Solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science, 12, 257-285.

Traxler, J. (2007). Defining, Discussing, and Evaluating Mobile Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8(2), 1-12.

United Nations [UN], 2010. 67 Percent of people have cell phones. Retrieved March 25, 2010 from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.