Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 5
2002-03-31 発行

Multimedia and the English Grammar Abilities of University Freshmen

The development of multimedia during the past few years offers tremendous potential for improving the English abilities of students. Instantaneous links, voice recognition, video, graphics, and digital recording are being integrated into English as a foreign language education so that perhaps the ideal can be reached where students learn the language faster and with less effort. These technologies have been applied to various aspects of English as a foreign language education, including speaking (Eskenazi, 1999; Coniam, 1999), listening (Umino, 1999; Brett, 1997), vocabulary acquisition (Cummins, 1998; Grace, 1998), and writing (Liaw, 1998; Braine, 1997). But multimedia materials which aid Japanese learners of English grammar are definitely lacking on the market, and there has been an inadequate amount of classroom research conducted on the grammar abilities of students-research which would provide a basis for the development of high-quality multimedia English grammar-learning materials. This dearth in grammar-related research and materials exists despite the fact that grammar ability is known to be a most crucial aspect of language proficiency (Bardovi-Harlig, 1999) and that students can benefit from explicit grammar instruction (Ellis, 1998). The goals of this paper are: 1) To give a brief review of how multimedia is aiding English grammar learning, and 2) To describe the English grammar abilities of Japanese university freshmen. Some very important results were obtained with respect to describing the English grammar abilities of university freshmen. For example, when given a multiple choice test, freshmen have a lot of difficulty identifying both the sentence pattern S + V (non-be verb) + C (present participle/ past participle), and participle constructions. On the other hand, they do quite well recognizing both the sentence pattern It + be or seem + clause beginning with that, and the pronoun it substituting for a noun phrase/ clause. These findings can provide a basis for the design and development of multimedia materials.