Jul 11, 2020
category: Education


The paper is a critical review of the article “Visuals & language learning: Is there a connection?” by Christine Canning-Wilson. The source clearly outlines its purpose. Specifically, the study quantitatively determines whether use of visual aids for guiding students with a completion of language tasks is sufficiently effective.

Hypothesis/Research Question

The research question is explicit: findings just response the initial research question. To be more precise, the scholar managed to prove with the experiment measures that visual aids are effective for learning and performing foreign language (Canning-Wilson 2001).

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Learning Theory

The article is related to the Gestalt theory that defines learning as acquisition of the external concepts through mediation of human senses, including sight, hearing, touch, and smell. Such a standpoint creates the basis for the entire research. The author argues that visual cues assist in better perception of the foreign language vocabulary. In this context, students facilitate their learning language with the use of various visual aids, ranging from pictures, illustrations, and posters to cards among others. Nonetheless, the article does not build its argument only on the framework of the Gestalt theory. Indeed, this implicit assumption is common for the methodology of foreign language teaching, and the study does not present any unique vision of foreign language learning. The author is obviously traditional in terms of the outlooks related to learning theory and methods of instruction in the field, and these constraints respectively limit the study’s framework in this regard. Thus, the study does not touch upon the issues beyond fundamental concepts of the foreign language learning.

Research Methodology

On a similar note, the study utilizes a complex quantitative approach for collection of data: the experimental observation. A choice of this methodology is justified: it was necessary to understand whether visual aids are effective in learning language and to what extent. That is why an experimental measurements between two groups of participants has been chosen. Meanwhile, the choice of the sample could have been more rationalized and diversified. In particular, students of the same grade, institution, and gender cannot represent an entirely credible sample for such a profound research.

Validity of The Approach

Nevertheless, the selected research method is relevant to the study purpose due to a number of reasons. First, the research design managed to answer the research questions and clearly present them to the reader. Second, it is easy to comprehend the main purpose of the article, its findings, discussion arguments, and final conclusions. This factor makes increasingly apparent the validity of this methodology as it allows answering the research question.

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Reliability of The Approach

The results and their interpretation are clear and transparent, so that they are easy to understand. With this respect, the selected research method is reliable owing to the fact that all data and process of the collection of the material are transparent: a reader can easily comprehend the process of data collection and analysis. Moreover, the information is appropriately allocated, so that the reader can easily highlight the clear trends in the findings. This circumstance is a particular advantage of the research design incorporated in the research procedure, and it impacts clarity of the entire study.

Clarity of The Findings

Therefore, the article presents the findings clearly, and they are easy to understand without additional explanations. On the other hand, the above specificity would have made the illustrative material as excessively stretched, and the study itself would become more complicated. At any rate, presenting the findings is clear and comprehensible, which is why the entire study is transparent. Overall, the methodological approaching of the research questions is evidently the strongest component of the study under analysis.

Congruence of Conclusions

The conclusion itself is quite clear and understandable: visual aids facilitate learning of languages, but this statement is not related to any further implications. Such conclusions are obviously weak because they comprise minor practical significance: these findings are not applicable to a contemporary professional context of foreign language teaching. At the same time, they are still relevant even though these statements are insignificant in practical context.

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Presence of Practical Implications

Although observable, the practical implications are not unique. Undoubtedly, the community of practitioners widely discusses the use of visual cues, and its significance is apparent to any practicing teacher of foreign languages. Moreover, visual cues are a standard practice nowadays, and contemporary studies are expected to provide an account of specific and innovative issues related to the method.

Relevance to The Professional Context

The article does not report about such sort of findings, though it emphasizes on the general efficacy of visual aids, which is already quite apparent to any practitioner. On the contrary, all arguments are empirically-driven, so a beginner teacher may use this article for a personal guidance. However, this article does not present any practical significance for experienced teachers.

Strength of The Conclusions

The research does not convince a modern practitioner to change personal views on the topic due to the lack of novelty implications: efficiency of visual cues in learning vocabulary cannot be ignored. This study can be utilized as rationale and motivation for a teacher to use more visual aids in classrooms, but it does not suggest specific strategies for doing that. The suggestions made by this study are not new, especially to experienced teacher, since use of visual aids is a common practice, even in EFL settings. Therefore, the conclusions do not present any practical significance, as they just restate already obvious fact regarding effectiveness of visual aids. The experiment itself was a priori redundant, as the study was intending to prove already known fact. All in all, the article complies with the general field of study, but does not contribute much to the new developments in the sphere of foreign language teaching.

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