Comparative Analysis of Pictorial-based and Translation-based Vocabulary Introduction on Student Recall and Retention of Concrete French Nouns

Melody Leung


In order to help classroom teachers improve second language learner vocabulary acquisition, the present study sought to compare two widely used vocabulary development approaches, pictorial-based and translation-based, in regard to student immediate recall and retention of previously unknown French nouns. The researcher examined two questions during the course of the study 1.) Does the pictorial-based or translation-based approach result in greater recall and retention? 2.) Which direction ofprocessing, treatment-word or word-treatment, is more effective in regard to vocabulary recall and retention? The researcher hypothesized that the use ofpictures to introduce unknown vocabulary would be more effective that the use of a students' L1 in both immediate recall and retention. Additionally, the research predicted that the word-picture treatment would be the most effective of all of the treatment methods. Over the course of four weeks, students participated in four vocabulary introduction treatments: word­picture, picture-word, L2-L1 and L1-L2. Data included an immediate posttest and delayed posttest in order to assess student recall and retention of the treatment vocabulary. Student responses on the posttests were scored using a comprehensibility point system. The results ofthe study indicated that overall the pictorial-based approach was superior to the translation-based approach particularly in student retention of new vocabulary. Additionally, the results indicated that the vocabulary introduction approach had a greater impact on student recall and retention than the direction of processing.