Impact of a Cognitively Modified Instruction on Vocabulary Acquisition of Second Language Users of Grade 2: A study conducted in a private American school in Dubai

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Human cognition is structured to automatically build schemas when learning is presented in a systematic way. Taking care of element interactivity during the instructional planning can help reduce the cognitive load of learning. For a teacher who is passionate to deliver effective instruction, it is not only achievable but also exciting. Carefully designed instruction is needed to ensure that the cognitive load taken by the learner matches his or her working memory capacity. This is a complex process and needs to be individualized for every learner. This experimental study is inspired by Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory which originated in 1980s. The main studies of CLT have been conducted in the field of Mathematics and Media Learning. The current study, however, explores its application in the field of English as a second language acquisition. The study was conducted to find the impact of modified instructional strategies that help reduce the cognitive load. Specific instruction was tailored using principles of split-attention effect, modality effect, and redundancy effect. This resulted in a reduced cognitive load for the learner, which helped increase the performance of grade 2 (7 years old) students in vocabulary and comprehension acquisition. Deviation method was used to analyse the impact of modified instruction on students’ performance. Efficiency metric showed that students in experiment group demonstrated better efficiency as compared to the control group. Lesson observations were conducted to validate the delivery of the instruction as per the design. The findings of the observation reflected a higher level of student engagement. The study concludes that modified instruction with reduced cognitive load results in increased performance of the learners of the English as a second language.
modified instruction, vocabulary acquisition, second language users, United Arab Emirates (UAE)