Vocabulary learning through use of the picture-word inductive model for young English learners in China: A mixed methods examination using Cognitive Load Theory

Xuan Jiang, Florida International University


English has been taught as a core and compulsory subject in China for decades. Recently, the demand for English in China has increased dramatically. China now has the world's largest English-learning population. The traditional English-teaching method cannot continue to be the only approach because it merely focuses on reading, grammar and translation, which cannot meet English learners and users' needs (i.e., communicative competence and skills in speaking and writing). This study was conducted to investigate if the Picture-Word Inductive Model (PWIM), a new pedagogical method using pictures and inductive thinking, would benefit English learners in China in terms of potential higher output in speaking and writing. With the gauge of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT), specifically, its redundancy effect, I investigated whether processing words and a picture concurrently would present a cognitive overload for English learners in China. I conducted a mixed methods research study. A quasi-experiment (pretest, intervention for seven weeks, and posttest) was conducted using 234 students in four groups in Lianyungang, China (58 fourth graders and 57 seventh graders as an experimental group with PWIM and 59 fourth graders and 60 seventh graders as a control group with the traditional method). No significant difference in the effects of PWIM was found on vocabulary acquisition based on grade levels. Observations, questionnaires with open-ended questions, and interviews were deployed to answer the three remaining research questions. A few students felt cognitively overloaded when they encountered too many writing samples, too many new words at one time, repeated words, mismatches between words and pictures, and so on. Many students listed and exemplified numerous strengths of PWIM, but a few mentioned weaknesses of PWIM. The students expressed the idea that PWIM had a positive effect on their English teaching. As integrated inferences, qualitative findings were used to explain the quantitative results that there were no significant differences of the effects of the PWIM between the experimental and control groups in both grade levels, from four contextual aspects: time constraints on PWIM implementation, teachers' resistance, how to use PWIM and PWIM implemented in a classroom over 55 students.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Jiang, Xuan, "Vocabulary learning through use of the picture-word inductive model for young English learners in China: A mixed methods examination using Cognitive Load Theory" (2014). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3644776.