Technology is changing education. Just 30 years ago, instructors were using slow, inefficient technology such as projectors and reels of film, whereas today they have instant access to video from anywhere in the world. This capability has the potential to change the way that language is being taught and learned. Instead of students relying solely on their teacher and textbook for linguistic input, they have access to the Internet which holds a seemingly endless amount of information. This study was inspired by the belief that it is possible to maximize the potential benefit from that availability by implementing the theory that people learn language best when they have access to comprehensible input (Buri, 2012; Crossley, Allen, & McNamara, 2012; Krashen, 1985; Shintani, 2012; Zarei & Rashvand 2011). It also implements the belief of some second-language acquisitions theorists that subtitled video provides language learners with more comprehensible input than non-subtitled video alone (Borrás & Lafayette, 1994; Chun & Plass, 1996; Danan, 2004; Di Carlo, 1994). Thus, this study used interactive subtitled video to investigate the effects of three word definition types on participants' vocabulary comprehension and involved the selection of 120 Russian (L2)words of equal difficulty that were randomly sorted into one of four groups -- three treatments and a control group. Each treatment group contained 30 Russian words with a different type of definition in English (L1): dictionary definitions, which provided the viewers with the definition they would find in the bilingual dictionary; glosses which provided the viewers with the exact meaning of the word only as it pertains to the given context; and annotations which provided an explanation to clarify a word's use in different contexts or its non-traditional uses. Participants totaled 53 men and women ages 18-30 from 4 countries, US, Canada, Germany, and Sweden, who were advanced L2 learners of Russian. To control for the possible effects of a pretest, some of the subjects took a vocabulary pretest, and then all subjects watched a film in Russian with Russian subtitles, which was immediately followed by a vocabulary posttest. Results showed that annotations were most conducive to vocabulary gains, followed by glosses, dictionary definitions, and no definition, respectively. Although this was not the case for all participants, this outcome did hold for the majority, and several possible reasons for this outcome are discussed.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





annotations, glosses, dictionary definitions, subtitles, Ayamel, Russian language learners