The effectiveness of voice-on and voice-off instruction on ASL vocabulary acquisition

Rachel Elizabeth Traxler, Kimi Nakatsukasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Whether to use spoken English for the instruction of American Sign Language (ASL) is a pedagogical debate for those teaching hearing second language learners. Previous investigations have found the use of learners’ first language to be beneficial for vocabulary acquisition. Studies on sign languages, however, have found that a class taught completely using signs is more beneficial than a class that incorporates spoken English, although the cognitive theory of multimedia learning argues that receiving input in various modalities fosters learning. In the present study, the efficacy of voice-on or voice-off instruction for acquisition of ASL vocabulary is examined. Twenty-six hearing adult students in an ASL class received either voice-on (spoken English) or voice-off (ASL only) instruction for 13 vocabulary items. They completed a comprehension test in the pretest, immediate posttest, and delayed posttest, as well as a production test in the immediate and delayed posttest. The results showed significant improvements over time for both conditions for comprehension and production; however, no differences between the two conditions were observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • American Sign Language
  • vocabulary acquisition
  • voice-on instruction


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