MOBILE ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (MALL) : Teacher uses of smartphone applications (apps) to support undergraduate students’ English as a Foreign Language (EFL) vocabulary development

Wardak, Masuda and Passey, Professor Don (2020) MOBILE ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (MALL) : Teacher uses of smartphone applications (apps) to support undergraduate students’ English as a Foreign Language (EFL) vocabulary development. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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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 and that the number of tech-savvy students will also grow in the future. 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, schools and other higher education institutes have not yet fully integrated these devices into their courses and have mostly perceived them as distractors. Moreover, there is limited research on how smartphones could be utilised sensibly, both inside and outside the classroom. This study, therefore, aims to explore methods and approaches which could facilitate vocabulary development and pre-teach EAP words outside the classroom through smartphone applications, while saving in-class time for other activities. The focus in the present study is on vocabulary development, as it is considered to be a priority area in language learning. The majority of language teachers and applied linguistic researchers have recognised the importance of vocabulary learning and aim to promote it further. McCarthy (1990) promotes the idea further, stating that the single, biggest component of any language course through the experience of most language teachers is vocabulary. It is the knowledge of words, which expresses a wide range of meaning. The participants in the present study were required to develop their academic vocabulary, this being a common problem area for EFL learners. Academic vocabulary development is important for them, because when submitting academic assignments, learners have a pressing need to use advanced level academic vocabulary items. 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 in their EAP vocabulary development, 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.

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Thesis (PhD)
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09 Nov 2020 09:55
Last Modified:
20 Jul 2024 01:09