Dr. Anthony Zhang (Lecturer in Second Language Learning, University of Reading) has recently been awarded the University of Reading’s Research Fellowship (£10,000) for the 2022/2023 academic year. Only four Fellowship applications were successful across the university’s five research themes, according to the University’s press release.
Applications were assessed against the following criteria:
- The extent to which the Fellowship will enable an innovative and ambitious programme of research;
- The contribution of the Fellowship to supporting a step-change in the research programme of the applicant and their research leadership development; and
- The quality and significance of the proposed project and its outputs, and the strength of the proposed plan to deliver it,
Dr. Zhang’s project, titled ‘Improving Foreign Language Proficiency in the UK: Transforming Classroom Language Teaching through Multimedia’, aims to investigate the extent to which multimedia materials, such as video clips and computer games can enhance foreign language comprehension and vocabulary growth among UK secondary school language learners. It involves collaboratively developing foreign language multimedia learning materials (French, German, Spanish) with teachers, conducting experimental foreign language learning sessions with Year 7 learners in three schools, and organising a national multimedia materials “mining” competition through a school outreach programme.
Dr. Zhang said: “Existing studies have shown that multimedia has a beneficial impact on foreign language development. In the UK however, learners make less use of foreign language multimedia outside of school. There may be a vicious circle at work, that is, UK learners’ lower foreign language proficiency perhaps makes it harder for them to understand multimedia independently. This study will be the first empirical study, set in the informal outside classroom context, to investigate the effects of different types of multimedia materials on facilitating foreign language learning among young learners.”
Since the launch of the Fellowship, the Institute of Education has been very successful in securing the funding, starting with a project by Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai (2019-2020, and extended to 2021 due to the COVID disruptions) followed by a project by Prof. Naomi Flynn (2021-2022).