Kukulska-Hulme, A. 2018. “Mobile-assisted language learning [Revised and updated version].” In The Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, edited by Chapelle, Carol A. New York: Wiley.
This article provides an overview and up to the minute discussion of the potential of mobile-assisted language learning (MALL). In the article MALL is defined as using smartphones and other mobile technologies, including tablet computers and e-readers, to enable extended learning opportunities for language learning.
The author describes how MALL can support skill development in reading, listening, speaking and writing and shows how mobile devices can be used to increase accessibility and to open opportunities for language learning, formally in classroom-based, and informally outside classroom settings, as well as providing the means to bridge the two.
The author reports that it is estimated that the number of users of mobile technology will reach 5.9 billion or 71% of the world’s population by 2025 (GSMA 2018). The author argues that as a result many language learners who currently have limited access to language learning opportunities and materials can be enabled to use their mobile devices to engage in learning on demand and will have ready access to learning resources and materials.
While it is not yet clear what impact this may have on current models of learning, it is very likely that those models will be affected, even to an extent transformed by the ubiquity of mobile technologies. However, the author argues that this potential change provides an opportunity to refresh language learning systems and to enable more flexible models of learning which will benefit language learners.
Retrievable from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/57023/
Tran, P. (2018). Enhancing Online Language Learning Task Engagement through Social Interaction. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 1, (2) 88-101.
This study examined the how online social interaction can support out of class language learning. A group of English language students at a private university in Tokyo participated in the study over two semesters. In the first semester students were introduced to and supported to use Quizlet for vocabulary learning. In the second semester the same group of students were introduced to and supported to use LINE a free messaging App to communicate with and receive direction and feedback from the instructor and to communicate with one another. Results indicate that providing students with the means to engage in online social interaction had a positive impact on student engagement in out of class independent language learning.
The researcher identifies three roles of social interaction in supporting out of class language learning. The first is social communication wherein students interact with one another and develop a sense of community, the second is as a teacher to student communication tool whereby the teacher communicates directly with each student to provide direction, feedback and reminders. The third is as a student to teacher communication tool enabling students to communicate directly with the teacher to report on what they are learning, to ask questions and request direction and guidance. Participants reported that the use of LINE increased their motivation to engage in out of class language learning and allowed for a more open and direct relationship with the instructor.
Although this is a relatively small study conducted in a post-secondary institution it provides a useful review of the potential of online social interaction tools to support language students, at every level of learning, to engage in out of class language learning tasks to enhance their learning.
A brief post from the Illinois Digital Learning Lab outlining how instructors and ESOL students are experimenting with the use of voice recognition technology, specifically, Google Home Mini. The instructor describes how she and her students are using the device and the potential for such devices to build engagement, and help students in developing language skills such as pronunciation. The instructor also shares a list of questions that students draw on in working with the device and some issues to consider when planning to introduce voice recognition technology (either voice assistants like Google Home or smartphone voice assistants in the language classroom.
Retrievable from: https://edtech.worlded.org/experimenting-google-assistant-esl-classrooms/
María Dolores Castrillo, Elena Martín-Monje & Elena Bárcena Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain. 10th International Conference Mobile Learning 2014.
This report on a six-week study with 85 volunteers explores the use of WhatsApp, an instant messaging application for smart phones in a second language writing class. The application allows mobile-based chatting and collaboration in the negotiation of meaning in the student volunteers’ exchanges. WhatsApp is a tool the students already used on their phones and allowed the researchers to explore its potential for collaborative language learning for “distance learners on the move”.
The report describes the initial lack of activity on the application and the dramatic change in the quantity of messages within a short time. The researchers provide information on average numbers of messages and patterns of use by day and time. As far as the aim to look at WhatsApp’s usefulness in negotiating meaning, there are numerous extracts that show how students provided feedback to each other and collaborated to clarify and correct each other’s writing. They did this both in relation to the tasks they were working on and to ask each other about syntax, all the while building group solidarity. The study showed that the students, who all spoke the same first language, used the target language almost exclusively in their written exchanges. Some of the other observations include use of paralinguistic features that are available on the application.
The report details the changes in the teacher’s role from being the main corrector of written errors to one of guide to the various topics to be discussed and types of discourse. She did more eliciting of awareness of language than correction of student mistakes.
Retrievable from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED557212
Godwin-Jones, R. (2017). Smartphones and language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 21(2), 3–17.
According to the 2016 General Social Survey from Statistics Canada 71% of the population own a Smartphone. We carry these powerful little devices with us everywhere even in our classrooms. The ubiquity of the Smartphone begs the question of how they could be used to support and extend language learning.
This timely article offers an overview of, and provides a useful base of information about the potential of Smartphones for language learning. The author contends that smartphones have the potential to support students in more effectively integrating their language learning in the classroom and the incidental language learning that they may engage in using mobile devices. One major challenge relating to the use of smartphones and mobile devices in the language learning environment is how to support students to develop skills and knowledge to enable them to become informed and engaged online learners.
The author surveys recent research in Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and makes the case for the need for further research to examine the actual use of mobile devices by students outside of the classroom. Such research would support a better understanding of how these devices can be effectively deployed in the language classroom to support informal and ongoing learning and the development of critical digital skills.
[i] (2016). Statistics Canada. General Social Survey.
Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2017/emerging.pdf
Lai, C. & Zheng, D. (2017) Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom. ReCALL p.1-20
This article is based on a study conducted with language students in a university in Hong Kong, exploring their self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning outside of the classroom. The study revealed that the students used mobile devices to personalize their learning, rather than for communication, and that their use was determined by their own understanding of the affordances of the devices. How the students used mobile devices for language learning was also determined by their habits of use of these devices in their daily lives, and by the types of learning tasks they were engaged in. The authors suggest that these factors, based on a deeper understanding how students use mobile devices, should be considered when designing mobile learning activities. The finding of this study echo those of Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412 (see annotation below) and underline the importance of learning how mobile devices are being used by students in daily life to shape the development of appropriate mobile language learning activities
Available for purchase ( $25.00 USD) at:
New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX.
This annual report profiles six time-based key trends, significant challenges and important developments related to technology adoption in higher education. The 78-member 2017 Expert Panel includes Canadian representatives from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Ottawa, Conestoga College and Niagara College. One of the 10 highlights from the report states that online, mobile and blended learning are “foregone conclusions” necessary for an institution’s survival. This highlight emphasizes the importance of measuring how these approaches affect learning outcomes.
Retrievable from: https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2017-higher-education-edition/
Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Viberg, O.(2017). Mobile collaborative language learning: State of the art. British Journal of Educational Technology, September 2017.
This review article looks at studies in mobile,collaborative language learning conducted between 2012-16. The review aims to provide a better understanding of how mobile technologies are being used to support collaborative learning for second and foreign language learners. The article provides an overview of the findings of these studies which indicate that mobile collaborative language learning allows a range of affordances such as “flexible use, continuity of use, timely feedback, personalisation, socialisation, self-evaluation, active participation, peer coaching, sources of inspiration outdoors and cultural authenticity ” (p.1). In addition, the studies reviewed found that learners engaging in mobile collaborative language learning benefit from increased motivation and engagement, and were less nervous and embarrassed in their language learning. The authors conclude that the studies provide a credible case for mobile language learning.
Available for purchase ($6.00 USD for 48 hour access – article can be printed) at:
Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412.
This article is based on an empirical study exploring Austrian university students’ perceptions and practices related to the usefulness of online informal and incidental learning of English when they are using digital technologies in their daily lives. By and large the students indicated a preference for media (films and television), email, online dictionaries as being most useful for their language learning.
Although the study was conducted in a university setting the findings are applicable to a range of language learning settings. Given the ubiquity of digital technologies it is likely that students are accessing information and using technology for communication in daily life. As the author concludes, knowing more about how language students actually use digital technologies to support their learning outside the classroom can help instructors to incorporate the preferred technologies in instruction, where feasible, to validate informal language learning and to support students to evaluate digital tools to support their language learning outside the classroom.
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
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
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
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.
Hoven, D, & Palalas, A. (2013). The Design of Effective Mobile-Enabled Tasks for ESP Students: A Longitudinal Study. In Learner-Computer Interaction in Language Education A Festschrift in Honor of Robert Fischer. CALICO Journal.
Note: Calico Journal articles are open access 36 months after the date of publication
This paper describes the Enactment phase of a longitudinal Design-Based Research Study, conducted at a Canadian Community College. The aim of the study was to develop design principles for learning materials for English for special purpose (ESP) students. Ultimately a prototype for a mobile-enabled language learning eco-system (MELLES) was developed along with a collection of design guidelines to be used in refining future developments
Chun, D. and Warschauer, M. (Eds.). (2013). Special Issue on MALL [Special issue]. Language Learning and Technology 17(3).
This issues contains a range of articles exploring issues related to Mobile-Assisted Language Learning.
Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/october2013/v17n3.pdf
Burston, J. (2014). The Reality of MALL: Still on the Fringes. CALICO Journal, 31(1), 103–125.
Note: Calico Journal articles are open access 36 months after the date of publication.
This article reviews MALL (Mobile-Assisted Language Learning) implementation studies over the past 20 years and concludes that actual MALL integration, measured in terms of numbers of students, numbers of courses offered, language skills targeted remains marginal in the foreign language training sector. Having sounded this cautionary note about the current role of MALL in foreign language training the author notes that the technologies and pedagogical capabilities are in fact in place to move MALL from the margins to the mainstream of foreign language teaching.
Innovative Practices: Using Cell-Ed to Support English Language Learning by G. Martinez Cabrera
This newsletter article from the Texas Adult Education & Literacy Quarterly Newsletter describes an ESL curriculum that can be accessed through any basic cell phone. The program includes pre-recorded lessons and texted responses. The program emphasizes mobile-ready technology that does not require Internet access so learners do not need to have cell phone data plans.
Leadership Strategies in Mobile English as a Second Language Training
Djenana Jalovcic, Linda McCloud-Bondoc, and Anthony Ralston Athabasca University, Canada
The Routledge Handbook of Language Learning and Technology, Edited by Fiona Farr, Liam Murray 2016.
This handbook contains recent work by authors read in the development of this bibliography. As an example, there is a chapter by Glenn Stockwell on Mobile Language Learning. See also this 20-minute video of Stockwell from a conference about mobile learning. In it, he describes three important aspects of MALL that are important for learners.
Mobile technology for language learning: Trends, issues and ways forward
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.