Multimedia learning in a second language: A cognitive load perspective

Richard E. Mayer, Hyunjeong Lee, Alanna Peebles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


What can be done to help college students who are not native speakers of English learn from computer-based lessons that are presented in English? To help students access the meaning of spoken words in a slow-paced 16-minute narration about wildlife in Antarctica, a representational video was added that showed the scenes and animals being described in the narration (Experiment 1). Adding video resulted in improved performance of non-native English speakers on a comprehension test (d=0.63), perhaps because the video improved access to word meaning without creating extraneous cognitive load. To help students perceive the spoken words in a fast-paced 9-minute narrated video about chemical reactions, concurrent on-screen captions were added (Experiment 2). Adding on-screen captions did not improve performance by non-native English speakers on comprehension tests, perhaps because learners did not have available capacity to take advantage of the captions. Implications for cognitive load theory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-660
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014


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