Mobile Assisted Language Learning (Mall): Teacher uses of smartphone applications (apps) to support undergraduate students’ English as a Foreign Language (EFL) vocabulary development (Published)
The purpose of this study is to highlight how smartphones, specifically smartphone applications, can be integrated into the vocabulary development of adult English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) or English for Academic Studies (EAS) context. In the literature on Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL), it is largely claimed that the development of language-related technology is on the increase. These ubiquitous tools, which may also be defined as widely-used, could potentially improve teaching and learning outcomes in vocabulary development, especially through applications installed on smartphones. However, there is limited research on how smartphones could be utilised sensibly, both inside and outside the classroom. The focus in the present study is on vocabulary development, as it is considered to be a priority area in language learning. This study was conducted using a case-study approach focusing on 20 EFL students at a university in Britain who were attending Pre-sessional EAP classes during the period of the study. Uses of smartphone applications were developed by the teacher, who also acted as the researcher in this study. The focus has been on the students’ perceptions, opinions and overall experience of using these smartphone applications, as well as how effective they were. The intention was to discover how the tools can be incorporated into the learning process. The data were collected through questionnaires, a pre-test and a post-test, interviews, diaries and the researcher’s logbook. The latter included a written report of the students’ daily activities and learning experiences, their challenges and success/lack of success in learning. The study provides a rich description and analysis of the effectiveness of smartphone applications in vocabulary development mainly through qualitative data analysis. Limited use of quantitative analysis is made when reporting through numbers and percentages as well as displaying figures. It is anticipated that the results of the study will help to determine the appropriate use of smartphone applications in the vocabulary development of adult EFL students.