Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

John I. Liontas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Sherry, Ph.D.


English as a Second Language, Idiom Learning and Acquisition, Movie Clips, Context-Clue Rich Environments, Computer Assisted Language Learning, Second Language Acquisition


With increased use of educational technology in second language acquisition, idiomatic language instruction has seen an increase in the use of educational technology as an instructional method. Second/foreign language (L2) idioms teaching methods have extended their pedagogical approaches to employ Computer Assisted language Learning (CALL) and/or Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) educational technologies such as games, online platforms, images, videos, movies, social media, and augmented reality. Recent Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research has begun to focus on the effect(s) different types of videos (YouTube, advertisements, TV shows, full movies, and movie clips) can have on learning a second language, English as a second or foreign language, especially when focusing on teaching and learning L2 idioms.Employing an exploratory descriptive design, this study examined the efficacy of idiom-infused movie clips on the achievement of English as Second Language (ESL) students. Ten movie clips infused with idioms from American movies were used to introduce ten idioms to five ESL doctoral-level students at a southern university in the United States. To explore the participants’ English Vivid Phrasal (VP) idiom meaning-making processes when encountering such idioms, Liontas’s (1999) Transactional Idiom Analysis (TIA) and Liontas’s (2002) Idiom Diffusion Model were used as the two main theoretical frameworks.

First, a 20-item pre-study survey was given to the participants to collect demographic information and background information. Next, the participants were introduced to the selected idiom-infused movie clips via a Teams meeting. This Idiom Detection Task (IDT), Liontas first coined in 1999, consisted of 10 movie clips, each of which will include one VP idiom. Thereafter, the participants took part in a post-study survey to answer several questions related to their experience in detecting, interpreting, and understanding VP idioms via idiom-infused movie clips. These questions included questions inquiring about the participants’ general impressions of learning English VP idioms via movie clips, what they liked most and least about this method of learning, their perceptions about the usefulness of movie clips in learning VP idioms, and the participants’ recommendations regarding VP idiom learning via movie clips. Finally, the participants took part in a post-study semi-structured interview that aimed at capturing the participants’ experiences and perceptions of detecting, interpreting, and understanding VP idioms via idiom-infused movie clips.

The study findings revealed similarities in the detection and meaning-making strategies used by all five participants to identify and deduce the meaning of the VP idioms depicted in the movie clips. I found that the five doctoral-level non-native English-speaking participants used context clues, recollection, and guessing as the three main detection and meaning-making strategies. These strategies were used to various degrees of success depending on participants’ evolving language proficiency and abilities. In the post-study interviews, I also discovered similar results regarding VP idiom identification and interpretation strategies as presented in the IDT and Post-Study Survey. All five participants relied on a combination of strategies to detect and interpret VP idioms. This study confirms and supports Liontas’s (1999, 2002c) TIA and Liontas’s (1999, 2002b) IDM of Second Languages, as well as the primary tenets involved in Mayer’s (2009) Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, Keller’s (2010) ARCS Motivational Model, and Kress’s (2000) Multimodality Theory.