Exploring Language Learning with Mobile Technology: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Vocabulary Learning Apps for ESL Learners in Canada

Liang, L. (2018) Exploring Language Learning with Mobile Technology: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Vocabulary Learning Apps for ESL Learners in Canada. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation. Repository. 5763.

This Canadian study offers a comprehensive review and analysis of 3 vocabulary apps, Duolingo, Johnny Grammar Word Challenge and Anki App, to assess their appropriateness and usefulness to support learning both inside and outside of the ESL classroom.

The study includes a review and an extensive analysis and discussion of the exemplary features of ESL learning apps in relation to curriculum, pedagogy and design.

As part of the study the author developed an app evaluation checklist based on the in-depth analysis of the vocabulary apps and in the context of the Ontario ESL curriculum. This checklist could be a very helpful tool for instructors in adult settlement language  as they review and evaluate learning apps for use by  learners in the classroom and for independent learning.

Given the ever-increasing number of apps promoted as “learning apps”, the considerable investment of time required to review an app for use in teaching and learning, and the relative lack of research focused on the quality of language learning apps, this study provides a timely and accessible introduction to ESL learning app evaluation


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Choosing an App for your lessons with the Padagogy Wheel

How can instructors evaluate the quality and appropriateness of apps to support language learning?  It can be a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process.

TESL Ontario blogger John Allen  may have the answer. In this brief blog post he describes the Padagogy Wheel, developed by  Allan Carrington of Teach Thought and intended to help educators to evaluate apps based on the intended learning outcome. Underpinning the Padagogy Wheel is  the understanding that pedagogy should drive the technology and not the other way around.

In this post the author  outlines the process and describes his own experience in using the Padagogy Wheel to design a vocabulary lesson.

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The Evolution and Impact of Technology in Language Education

John, C.,(2018). The Evolution and Impact of Technology in Language Education. In Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018. Edited by Rob Power. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

This short chapter provides a very accessible review of the history and development of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Included is a fairly comprehensive overview of the technologies used and the second language acquisition theoretical background and teaching approaches that have shaped CALL over the years,as well as a brief look at some of the inherent opportunities and challenges.

The chapter also discusses two very recent developments in this area, Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and Robot-Assisted Language Learning (RALL) and provides examples of how particular technologies are currently used in language teaching and learning.

Retrievable from: Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018

Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools

Demmans Epp, C., (2017). Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2017(1), 2.

This article describes the findings of  a small-scale research project to examine how recent migrants to Canada make use of mobile technologies to support their English language learning.

The study indicates that recent migrants can and do make use of mobile technologies to access information, but that there is a need for more extensive supports to enable them to make better use of these technologies to support language language learning, including comprehension, production and language acquisition.

The researcher concludes that there is a need for, and an opportunity to create, more mobile technology tools and applications to help scaffold the development of new skills.There is also a need for mobile tools that could help language learners to better understand and communicate across a variety of forms of English and tools that would allow them to practice their communication skills, receive feedback which would, in turn, enable them to plan for future learning.

Retrievable from: https://www-jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/jime.432/




MALL: The Pedagogical Challenges

Burston, J. (2014). MALL: The Pedagogical Challenges. Computer Assisted Language Learning,  27 (4) 344-357,

A comprehensive review of the use of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) over the past 20 years or so, highlighting a range of innovative programs. The article argues that MALL has been constrained not only by issues of access, affordability and lack of standardization of devices but also by an approach to pedagogy which the author describes as a “behaviorist, teacher-centered, transmission model of instruction” . The author makes the case that a constructivist/learner-centred “collaborative, task-based learning both within and outside of the classroom.” is more appropriate to teaching and learning with mobile technologies and ultimately supports better learning outcomes The article concludes that the technological and financial constraints that have limited the use of mobile technologies in language teaching and learning will likely be resolved by market forces, and that the realization of the potential of mobile technologies for language teaching and learning is “a matter of pedagogy rather than technology.”

Cost: $USD 41.00

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Web 2.0 Technology Meets Mobile Assisted Language Learning.

Min Jung Jee. (2011). Web 2.0 Technology Meets Mobile Assisted Language Learning. The IALLT Journal, 41(1), 161–175.

This paper presents an introduction to Web 2.0 and mobile technologies in the context of foreign and second language instruction. The paper includes a review of a number of Web 2.0 technologies, for example, blogs, wikis and social networking, and discusses their potential applications to language pedagogy and possible uses in the language classroom, within the context of theories of second language acquisition. The author discusses the benefits of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and Web 2.0 technologies which include enhanced motivation, learner autonomy and responsibility for learning and increased flexibility in learning preferences and styles. The author recommends further action research in the use of these technologies and encourages second language instructors to explore and to take advantage of the potential of these technologies in their instruction for the benefit of learners.

Retrievable from: http://old.iallt.org/iallt_journal/web_20_technology_meets_mobile_assisted_language_learning

Students’ Perceptions and Experiences of Mobile Learning.

Kim, D., Rueckert, D., Kim, D.-J., & Seo, D. (2013). Students’ Perceptions and Experiences of Mobile Learning. Language Learning & Technology, 17(1), 52–73.

This study looked at how a group of graduate TESOL students perceived the use of mobile devices to create a personalized learning experience outside the classroom. The study found that mobile technologies provide opportunities for new learning experiences and encourage students to engage in learning activities outside the classroom and that this group of students perceived the usefulness of mobile technologies in teaching and learning and based on their positive experiences are more likely to use these technologies in their own teaching practice. This study has implications for the settlement language field, particularly in relation to teacher training and ongoing professional development to support instructors to explore the feasibility and potential of mobile technologies in their language instruction.

Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/october2013/kimetal.pdf

(Re)conceptualizing design approaches for mobile language learning.

Hoven, D., & Palalas, A. (2011). (Re)conceptualizing design approaches for mobile language learning. CALICO Journal, 28(3), 699–.

This paper reports on an exploratory study at a Canadian Community College, between 2007 and 2009, looking at the potential of mobile devices to enhance English for special purpose (ESP) learning by providing opportunities for students to continue working on listening and speaking skills outside of the classroom. The findings of this preliminary study pointed to the need for further investigation and the critical importance of developing design principles for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) materials to support effective instruction. The authors note that the development of design based principles will be the major focus of an ongoing Design Based Research (DBR) study at the college.

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A Typology of Tasks for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning: Recommendations from a Small-Scale Needs Analysis.

Moonyoung Park, & Tammy Slater. (2014). A Typology of Tasks for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning: Recommendations from a Small-Scale Needs Analysis. TESL Canada Journal, 31(Special Issue 8).

This study explored how college-level ESL students are currently using their mobile devices for language learning and the attitudes and opinions of their instructors in relation to Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL). The study included semi-structured interviews with students and instructors, an online survey and a task-based needs analysis focused on what learners and instructors want and need in relation to mobile-assisted language learning. Based on this research a set of language tasks in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing were identified. The researchers created a MALL-based task typology to support the future development of pedagogic tasks for academic ESL courses and to support the development of MALL-based curricula and lesson plans. The study found that while ESL learners are using mobile devices for a variety of learning and personal purposes, including communications and as reference tools, instructors need ongoing professional development to support them in realizing the potential of mobile devices in language teaching and to effectively incorporate mobile device use in task development for academic ESL courses.

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