The Relationship between Attention and Extraneous Load

Bridging Second Language Acquisition Theory and Cognitive Load Theory


There has been a call in recent years for an integration of cognitive load theory into instructed second language acquisition practices to assist language learners by taking advantage of theories on human cognitive architecture. This paper seeks to move the conversation on how this integration might be achieved by presenting findings from survey data conducted with learners enrolled online courses at a cyber-university in South Korea (n = 68). Findings show a statistically significant positive relationship between distraction and extraneous load. These results are used to postulate a model for explaining the how the effects of extraneous load on attention can be integrated into second language learning theory. Pedagogic implications of this are the value of explicitly signaling key vocabulary and grammar, ensure spatial and temporal considerations are made when using multimodal instruction, and placing learners at the center of decisions on the blend of media they experience in instruction.   


cognitive load, second language learning, media, online learning, video lectures

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Published : 2021-07-09

HughesC., CostleyJ., & LangeC. (2021). The Relationship between Attention and Extraneous Load. Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition, 7(2), 61-82.

Christopher J. L. Hughes
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  United States
Jamie Costley 
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Institute of Education, Moscow, Russia Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, 20, Moscow, Russia, 101000  New Zealand

Jamie Costley is an assistant professor in the Laboratory for Curriculum Design, Institute of Education at the Moscow Higher School of Economics.  He is interested in a variety of topics related to how to improve learning in online environments, specifically in the areas of collaborative learning, cognitive load, and instructional design. 

Christopher Lange 
Dankook University, Department of British and American Humanities 152 Jukjeon-ro, Jukjeon 1(il)-dong, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do South Korea, 16890  United States

Christopher Lange is an assistant professor in the Department of British and American Humanities at Dankook University in South Korea. He has published papers on informal group work, e-learning instructional design, and the effects of learning strategies within online environments. His current research is focused on the effects of cognitive load and learner control within e-learning environments. Additionally, he is interested in investigating ways of improving online instruction, design, and delivery to better address the needs of e-learning students. He earned a PhD in Education from Kongju National University in South Korea in 2017.

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