Technology-assisted vocabulary learning for EFL learners: A meta-analysis

Primary Author: Tao Hao

Faculty Sponsor: Yuliya Ardasheva


Primary College/Unit: College of Education

Category: Arts and Education Sciences

Campus: Pullman




As an important constituting component of L2 acquisition, vocabulary learning has been significantly impacted by the emergence of new technologies. The current meta-analysis extended on previous work by synthesizing the EFL technology-assisted vocabulary learning research conducted between 2012 and 2018 to reconcile inconsistencies and to examine the effectiveness of more current technological tools on both vocabulary learning and retention.



Two primary research questions guided this meta-analysis: 1) What are the effects of technologies on vocabulary learning in comparison with traditional pedagogies? 2) What are the moderator variables that have significant influences on the technology-assisted L2 vocabulary learning? A thorough and systematic literature search was conducted and a total of 33 research reports yielding 45 studies met the inclusion criterion. Studies were coded by two independent raters using a pre-established coding protocol for quality review.



The overall effect of technology-assisted L2 vocabulary learning was large (d = 0.845), suggesting that technology-assisted L2 vocabulary learning was more beneficial than non-technology-assisted instruction. Importantly, within-study comparison results indicated that technology could enhance learners’ long-term vocabulary retention.  Moderator analysis results also highlighted several variables—namely, device type, game condition, setting, test format, and reported reliability—affecting the effectiveness of vocabulary learning. These variables should be considered when planning instruction in technology-assisted L2 vocabulary learning. Specifically, advantages were found for mobile devices and on-the-move learning, suggesting that L2 vocabulary learning may be most efficient when students use mobile phones and are not restricted by classroom settings