A Framework for Enhancing Mobile Learner-Determined Language Learning in Authentic Situational Contexts

A Framework for Enhancing Mobile Learner-Determined Language Learning in Authentic Situational Contexts

Agnieszka Palalas (Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada) and Norine Wark (Athabasca University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020100106
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Mobile technology melds the mobile learner's authentic real and virtual worlds, enabling increasingly untethered personalized, learner-determined language learning opportunities. This article introduces an evidence-based framework founded upon cumulative findings from a number of the authors' recent and ongoing research projects. This framework provides guidance for designing mobile language learning activities within the learner's evolving personal, authentic situational learning context. The framework consists of three learner dimensions and four external contextual affordances that synergistically define the dynamics of this learning context. The merger of these dimensions and external contextual elements yields three interdependent learning concepts—personalization, adaptation, and relevancy—which enhance the mobile learner's motivation and self-determination. Application of these concepts enables instructors and learners to design mobile language activities that consider the interplay of numerous factors impacting language learning in context.
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Mobile technology offers untethered personalized, learner-determined language learning by merging the mobile learner’s personal, authentic real and virtual worlds. The goal of this article is to present a framework for designing and delivering mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) within authentic situational contexts. This framework is based on the synthesis of findings from three extensive research projects conducted by the authors. The findings indicate that learners who are actively engaged in meaningful learning within relevant contexts are more intrinsically motivated, and thus become increasingly self-determined. McEown, Noels, and Saumure (2014) concur, pointing out that foreign language teachers may encourage learner motivation by facilitating learner “competence, relatedness, and cultural understanding” (p. 227), while varying support mechanisms according to learners’ degrees of self-determination. Consequently, teachers play a critical role in providing motivational support to help learners advance on their journey from teacher dependency to autonomy. The proposed framework captures the different inter-related concepts of learner-determined language learning. It introduces three learner dimensions and four external contextual affordances that dynamically formulate the learner’s authentic situational learning context, and provides guidance for the design of mobile language learning activities within this context.

The framework is based upon cumulative findings from research projects on mobile language learning (Palalas, 2012, 2015), learner-determined emergent technology integration (Wark, 2018), and mobile-assisted language literacy (Palalas & Wark, 2017a, 2017b; Palalas, Wark, & Pawluk, 2017). These aggregated study results highlight the benefits of mobile learning activities designed with consideration of the unique situational context of the learner. They also identify the environmental affordances present in this context (from now on referred to as external contextual affordances) as key pedagogical requirements in mobile language learning design.

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