How effective can multimedia be in language and culture learning?
This thesis is designed to investigate the potential impact of multimedia on defined aspects of EFL learning practice and to explore the possibility of creating an interactive learning environment via multimedia to raise overseas students' cultural awareness. It focuses on aspects of practical cultural awareness and contrastive rhetoric. The thesis is based on a three-way comparison of learning outcomes for a group of students being taught in China, a matched group who followed an E-course as a supplement to their learning in China and a group who were based in the UK. The groups were compared on the basis of pre and post -tests. In addition, five approaches to learning via the website were compared and contrasted and five features of contrastive rhetoric were used in the E-course for raising cultural awarenessin academicw riting. The results show that the group with access to online multimedia learning was as successful in learning about defined aspects of culture as the UK based group. By the end of the course, the group with access to the E-course had attained a level of scores in relation to defined aspects of English rhetoric in academic writing similar to that of the native English speakers. Data analysis also showed that the pedagogical approaches that involved students' active learning functioned better than the other pedagogical approaches. It reveals that (1) a multimedia interactive learning environment is effective in helping overseas students acquire cultural knowledge for practical purposes; (2) multimedia is conducive to online interactive communication between students with different cultural backgrounds; (3) multimedia resources are useful for comparing rhetoric across cultures; (4) multimedia not only facilitates language and culture learning but also helps students to become autonomous and life-long learners.