Use of Audio Visual Materials in Language Learning

The Use of Audio-Visual and Krashen’s i+1 and Acquisition Hypotheses

The use of authentic materials in the foreign language classroom is encouraged because it exposes the students to the culture and the language as it is spoken and used by native speakers. Audio-visual materials provide a rich exposure to the foreign language and teachers have used different formats to introduce this material to their students. With the Internet, teachers are able to access programming from a wide variety of languages and countries. Although the language may be more complicated than Krashen’s i+1 Input Hypothesis suggests, teachers can use scaffolding, advance organizers, vocabulary lists, and the rewind button to aid the students in learning to listen to the material. Researchers have applied Krashen’s Hypothesis and Vygotsky’s scaffolding to audio-visual materials in order to improve our understanding of second language acquisition.

Wang (2012) found that many English as a Second Language (ESL) learners in China engaged in self-directed learning and used the Internet to watch English television drama (ETD) programs such as Friends, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy, among other programming. The programs had bilingual subtitles in English and Chinese. “Immersing themselves in these shows rich in authentic and functional use of the English language, ESL learners might be able to acquire skills and knowledge both implicitly and explicitly” (Wang, 2012, p. 340). Even though the students are pursuing this type of audio-visual input on their own in self-directed study, the subtitles can be considered a type of scaffolding. In addition, according to Krashen’s Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis the students are learning in two different forms. They are learning the language through a conscious process, but they are also acquiring knowledge subconsciously about meaning and language play (Dolati, 2012). The process of acquiring can be explained when students realize that a sentence doesn’t sound quite right, but they can’t actually put their finger on why it doesn’t sound correct. Advanced language students can often reach this point which goes beyond the conscious learned knowledge of grammar and memorized vocabulary. Students can “… pay close attention to pronunciation and intonation, the semantics of words in contexts and gestures and facial expressions in particular situations, which are less frequently taught or difficult to teach in ESL classrooms” (Wang, 2012, p. 340). The study found that the Chinese teachers of ESL used ETDs to maintain and improve their high levels of proficiency. The participants devised their own learning pedagogy. They would choose a program, such as Friends, and watch an episode with both the bilingual subtitles turned on. Then they would watch it again with only the English subtitles. Lastly, they would watch it again with no subtitles. With each step, they reduced the scaffolding necessary to understand the English language. Many would take notes of the vocabulary or expressions that they wanted to remember. The rewind button was frequently used “…for a close-up study of the pronunciation, intonation and tempo of a certain characters way of speaking…” (Wang, 2012, p. 344). The students were able to practice imitating the English in private without being embarrassed in front of a classroom full of fellow students. One student, Zhang said, ‘Sometimes I download the scripts and highlight the part I want to learn. I’ve been using resources shared by other ETD fans…’ (Wang, 2012, p. 344). By participating in the online forum groups with other ETD fans and sharing their scripts and notes, the students are collaborating in their learning process and providing scaffolding for each other. Others download the audio to their iPods and listen to the episodes as listening practice. “These participants attached equal importance to developing their sociolinguistic and pragmatic competence as well” (Wang, 2012 p. 344).

Fukunaga’s (2006) “… study provides sociocultural perspectives on learning from interdisciplinary studies including L1 and L2 literacy, multiliteracies, cultural studies, media literacy, and critical pedagogy” (p. 208). Many Japanese foreign language (JFL) students were first exposed to Japanese through playing imported video games. This game playing frequently led to Japanese anime and the subculture world on the Internet of fans of Japanese pop culture which also includes music and Japanese dramas. My sister and her sons started studying Japanese because of the video games. My daughter started studying it because of the anime, manga, and Japanese dramas with subtitles on the Internet. She requested and had a roommate from Japan for the last two years at her university. Fukunaga’s (2006) article delves into how the interest in Japanese pop culture and the self-forming forums and fan clubs on the Internet has affected the literacy development of students who study Japanese. He found that students were spending more time writing fanfictions and participating in forums than they spent on their class assignments. The subcultures that surround anime included animated films, TV programs, manga, video games, anime music, J-pop, J-rock, and anime-related activities that include clubs, forums, the Internet, anime conventions and cosplay. Cosplay related to anime is enormously popular. My niece regularly attends cosplay conventions and dresses in outfits that are identical to well-known anime characters. Even I follow her Facebook page to see how authentic her outfits are. She now designs anime cosplay costumes for others. Computer literacy is important for Japanese foreign language students who follow any of these types of media and that is another type of literacy that will serve the students well in their adult careers.

Fukunaga (2006) found that ” Repetitive watching of anime provides multiple advantages for learning Japanese” such as “…word recognition, listening and pronunciation, and awareness of various Japanese linguistic features” (p. 213). The participants reported that after watching many hours of anime “…they became aware of several Japanese linguistic aspects such as male and female speech endings, tone of voice, formal and plain forms of speech, slang, and good or bad translation” (Fukunaga, 2006, p. 214). Fukunaga (2006) found that the anime students had a cycle of learning between the Japanese class instruction and the anime viewing. In class, they learned and practiced grammar while the anime pre-exposed them to the language and reinforced the linguistic and cultural knowledge they had learned in class. He found that by the time they enrolled in Japanese classes “anime students have been exposed to many aspects of the language and culture of Japan through anime and its subcultures before they start taking Japanese courses” (Fukunaga, 2006, p. 216). He also found that his anime students had less anxiety about speaking in class and role-playing because they were used to hearing Japanese and its many different speech styles. He mentioned that he “…can sometimes spot secret anime students in my [his] classroom by listening to their Japanese speech in these minidramas” (Fukunaga, 2006, p. 217). He suggests that teachers should “get to know the tools” that their students are using, realize that their students are learning to “appreciate authentic aspects of other cultures,” have critical awareness discussions about what they are hearing and seeing online, and they should “be aware of the power of popular culture” (Fukunaga, 2006, p. 220).

Although watching anime and Japanese dramas may seem weird to some, “these anime students also seem to have less anxiety about studying Japanese. Japanese is rated among the most difficult languages to learn for English native speakers. To have less anxiety helps students enjoy learning Japanese” (Fukunaga, 2006, p. 220). Krashen’s Affective Filter hypothesis states that less anxiety increases the students’ self-confidence and the motivation to learn a foreign language (Dolati, 2012). This is exactly what Fukunaga (2006) found in his research. Even though the language input of i+1 was high, the enjoyment of the process kept the students’ interest and motivation high. In addition, the students were both learning concrete grammar and acquiring cultural, pragmatic, and idiomatic knowledge subconsciously.

Teachers of foreign languages must teach the culture of the target language along with the language. The Asian cultures are incredibly different from what exists in the United States. By incorporating authentic audio-visual materials into the classroom, or at least encouraging critical awareness and analytical discussion about what the students are viewing outside of the classroom, teachers can promote cultural tolerance and understanding. We should use these opportunities to learn about other cultures and their languages through their own cultural products.


Dolati, R. (2012). Overview on three core theories of second language acquisition and criticism. Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences, 6(6), 752-762. Retrieved from

Fukunaga, N. (2006). “Those anime students”: Foreign language literacy development through Japanese popular culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 206-222. Retrieved from

Wang, D. (2012) Self-directed English language learning through watching English television drama in China. Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, 19(3), 339-348. doi: 10.1080/1358684X.2012.704584



Author: foggydreamer

Foggy indulges her life-long passion for languages while working and having fun. Runescape has provided an immersive world for exploring personal and professional activities.

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