Smartphone Assisted Language Learning and Autonomy

Smartphone Assisted Language Learning and Autonomy

Adrian Leis (English Education Department, Miyagi University of Education, Sendai, Japan), Akihiko Tohei (Sakura no Seibo Junior College, Fukushima, Japan) and Simon D. Cooke (Tohoku Institute of Technology, Sendai, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2015070105
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Abstract

In the present study we investigate the advantages of using smartphones in an English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom. We compared two groups of Japanese university students who were either prohibited from using their smartphones in the classroom, or encouraged to use them for academic purposes, examining whether those using smartphones in their EFL lessons would show a tendency toward being autonomous. The results indicated that students who were encouraged to use their smartphones during class were inclined to study more in their free time as well as show signs of autonomy by taking charge of their learning and consider ways to improve their own study habits and English proficiency. Our conclusion is that language teachers and learners should be encouraged to use smartphones in the classroom as a means of fueling the desire to learn.
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Literature Review

The effect of using mobile devices in the language classroom has received much attention in recent years (e.g., Gitsaki & Robby, 2014; Stockwell & Hubbard, 2013; Stockwell, 2010; Ally, 2009; Kennedy & Levy, 2008; Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler, 2005). Many studies (e.g., Levy & Kennedy, 2005; Norbrook & Scott, 2003) have concentrated on methods using the mobile phone as a way to distribute content from teachers to students, rather than focus on interaction between students or communication from the students to the teacher. Levy and Kennedy (2005), for example, created a program for learners of Italian in Australia, using phones to regularly send vocabulary items, idioms and example sentences. Because messages related to content being studied in class were being sent to students in the Italian language, teachers were easily able to provide input for students outside of their usual lesson time. Such input, not readily available in a foreign language environment, received extremely positive reactions from students. In other studies with similar designs, Thornton and Houser (2002; 2003; 2005) sent short emails in English to students studying EFL at a Japanese university with results indicating significantly higher scores on tests. Furthermore, these students displayed a higher preference for vocabulary shared via the short emails sent to their mobile phones than students studying the same vocabulary by computer or on paper.

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