Библиографическое описание:

Васляева М. Ю., Алшинбеков А. Е. Advantages of mobile devices application in learning environment [Текст] // Проблемы и перспективы развития образования: материалы VI междунар. науч. конф. (г. Пермь, апрель 2015 г.). — Пермь: Меркурий, 2015. — С. 285-288.

This paper describes the benefits of implementing mobile-based tasks in learning foreign languages. The study revealed innovative uses of mobile devices in such areas as vocabulary, listening, grammar, phonetics, and reading comprehension. The paper notes changing relationship between learners and teachers.

Key words: mobile device, learning environment, MALL (Mobile-Assisted Language Learning).


In the world where modern technologies are rapidly growing, wireless communication technology already becomes an integral part of our surroundings. As mobile phones with high capabilities extend into all areas of human life, it is expected that this wireless computing device soon becomes accessible for all urban and rural areas of each country. So, widespread access to such an inexpensive and sophisticated device has rather changed the landscape of e-learning in many ways. In fact, mobile learning can be considered as the next generation of e-learning.

There are some factors having key roles in the use of mobile devices in learning environments. Physical characteristics of a mobile phone such as its size and weight as well as input and output capabilities such as keypad vs. touchpad and screen size and audio functions are among the main factors which make valuable using mobile phone in learning foreign language so easy in contrast to other popular devices. The learner skills and his/her prior knowledge and experience with mobile devices for learning, as well as the learner's attitude towards the learning through mobile phone play a crucial role in the output quality of such mobile-based tasks.

This study demonstrates the effective way of learning through mobile technologies, a shift from teacher-led learning to student-led one, via m-learning. The possibilities of learning a second language in a mobile-based environment are demonstrated accompanying by some examples of learning via mobile devices. Here, we have tried to show the benefits of using mobile phones in learning English as a second language. We considered such areas as vocabulary, listening, grammar, phonetics, and reading comprehension.

Among all modern communication devices, mobile phones are the most powerful communication medium even richer than email or chat as it can act as a learning device despite its technical limitations. With such device learner controls the learning process and progress in his/her own space based on his/her cognitive state.

Learning through the computer or e-learning enables learners to learn in a non-classroom environment when they are at home in front of their personal computers online or offline. However, learning through the mobile phone or m-learning provides learners with the opportunity to learn when they are in the bus, outside or at work doing their part-time jobs. In fact, they can learn every time and everywhere they are.

The widespread influence of the market increased the popularity of the mobile phone, and this fulfills the need of teachers to provide tools and software for the learners in teaching contexts. Moreover, comparing with other wireless devices such as laptop computers, mobile phones are rather inexpensive having functions as Internet browsers available in most devices. With such inexpensive devices accessible to even the poorest areas and having the functions as e-mail or SMS, it is now possible to transfer information to and from mobile phones between instructors and learners without any difficulty.

Wireless communication technology are applied to many fields such as GPS navigation, wireless monitoring system as well as learning various materials including learning language skills. Mobile learning can take place either within the classroom or outside it. In the former case, mobile phones possessing appropriate software are very effective in collaborative learning among small groups. Although this type of learning has nothing to do with the mobility property of such devices, it provides the learners with the opportunity of close interaction, conversation, and decision-making among the members of their group due to the specific design of the learning activity on mobile phones. These types of interaction among learners and their physical movement can hardly be achieved when desktop or laptop computers are to be used.

Mobile learning technology is more useful for doing activities outside the classroom. Such activities enable learning to be more directly connected with the real world experiments. Moreover, learning through mobile phones outside the classroom has the advantage of better exploiting the learner's free time; even the students on the move can improve their learning skills.

Furthermore, game-based learning is another theme for mobile learning in which learning materials are so designed to be integrated with aspects of physical environment. In such environments, learning activities are facilitated using the mobile technology which serves as a link between the real world of knowledge and the visual world of the game. For instance, TimeLab is a game about climate change and its effects. Players succeed to get information about the introduction of possible new environmental laws by means of using their mobile devices in different locations as they progress in the game. They will later discuss the results of the game in the classroom.

What is more, mobile learning games can also be used to teach second language skills such as vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening and reading comprehension and spelling. According to Canny, mobile phones offer an ideal platform for learning since they are ubiquitous, affordable, compact and wireless [1].

So, the researchers of the project MILLEE at the University of California (UC Berkeley) concentrated on simple English language skills and designated a series of games that constitute a curriculum equivalent to an ESL course. They tested their mobile phone-based learning games in North India. They reported that the game play can produce significant learning benefits, and this type of learning will enhance student's basic skills and provides clues to the sustainability and scalability of their approach Microsoft research program).

When in 1973 the first mobile device was invented, no one ever thought some day it would become an important part of routine life. As soon as the mobile phones became a crucial part of our lives, there was felt a strong need for using them in learning languages.

These days mobile devices such as PDAs, smart phones, and other handheld devices, are used everywhere for doing everything ranging from voice calling to making short message, video chat, listening to audio (Mp3, Mp4, Mpeg), web surfing, shopping, and etc. Apart from these benefits, mobile devices have increasingly grown toward becoming tools for education and language learning, and all its users from teachers or students to business people are getting used to this environment to make education as ubiquitous as possible. Moreover, the emerging of Internet made distance learning a means of receiving education from all the parts of the world. In a short period, the attractiveness of distance learning led to the application of various mobile devices that provide a very effective resource for education. Consequently, many researchers tried to make mobile devices a rich resource for teaching and learning. It was, in fact, a challenging affair to cover learning tasks by a mobile phone.

There are many researches and developments towards the use of wireless technology for different aspects of language learning. In the following lines it has been tried to demonstrate the benefits of using mobile phones in learning English as a second language. Areas of mobile-based language learning are diverse among which the most common ones are vocabulary, listening, grammar, phonetics, reading comprehension, etc.

Learning Vocabulary. The type of activities focusing on vocabulary learning via mobile phone differs from one research project to another, depending on the level of language proficiency of the learners. Sending e-mail or SMS to students is a common way of learning new vocabulary based on the lessons covered in the classroom. For example, Kennedy and Levy in their research gave learners the option to receive messages covering known words in new contexts through SMS to their mobile phones amounting nine or ten messages per week. The results indicated that the messages were very helpful for learning vocabulary [2, p.317].

Another good example is the experience of Thornton and Houser, who sent short mini-lessons for learning vocabulary through e-mail to mobile phones of the students three times a day. They used new words in multiple contexts for the learners to infer the meaning. The results showed an improved range of scores on post-tests which were very encouraging [3, p.220].

There are other strategies for learning vocabulary via mobile phones. Learners can be provided with some tailored vocabulary practices based on activities performed in the classroom. They are, then, asked to complete them on their mobile phones and send them back to their instructors.

Moreover, learning vocabulary can also be accompanied by the pictorial annotation shown on learners' mobile devices for better understanding of new words. In a study conducted by Chen and Hsu learners were provided with verbal, as well as pictorial, annotation for learning English vocabulary. Results of a post-test showed that the pictorial annotation assisted learners with lower verbal and higher visual ability to retain vocabulary [4, p.162].

Listening Comprehension. Listening dialogues and conversations may be considered the first stage in learning a second language. With the advent of modern mobile phones, it is now possible to design a mobile multimedia system for learning listening skills through listening different tasks.

So, using physical functions of modern mobile phones Huang and Sun designed a system composing of two subsystems. A multimedia materials website that uploaded and maintained video materials, and a set of multimedia English listening exercise on the mobile phone for the learners to repeat exercises in English listening in a ubiquitous learning environment. They attempted to implement the mobile multimedia English listening practice system based on capabilities of the mobile technology providing learners download multimedia sound contents from mobile devices, register the learning website, order mobile learning courses and activate reception of learning courses. According to authors' opinion, mobile multimedia English listening exercise system can enhance learner's English listening abilities to a high degree [5]. It is also possible to design a platform in which learners listen to a text by vocal service on their mobile phones, followed by a listening comprehension quiz based on the text.

Learning Grammar. Grammar rules can be learnt through a specifically designed program installed on mobile phone, in which grammatical rules are taught, followed by multiple-choice activities where learners select the correct answer from the given alternatives. So, most popular grammatical exercises are in the form of 'true-false' or 'fill-in the blanks' tasks, which are to be responded by the learners. Grammatical explanations may also be presented to learners via vocal service or short message service.

Pronunciation. In so far as modern mobile devices enable their users to access multimedia functions including listening and speaking, a good m-learning service should consist of speech facilities for transmitting voice. Having such facilities, learners may download dictionaries on the PDA with sound functions, so that they can learn the correct pronunciation of unfamiliar or new words to be able to fulfill their learning needs. Mobile devices with multimedia function give learners the opportunity to record their own voice. Further, teachers can analyze students' weaknesses in pronunciation. This way, by enhancing various functions of the system like providing a dictionary for looking up unfamiliar words and their correct phonetic form, the pronunciation as well as speaking skills of the learners can be well improved.

One of the brightest examples is Praxis learning podcast line - a platform providing a context-driven, social-based, and software-enhanced website for learning foreign languages.

The speech aspect of mobile learning is as significant as textual aspect of it, since it enables learners to comfortably speak with a system recording their voice and allowing them to listen back to themselves. Then, they can compare their voice with an ideal pronunciation and make an improvement in this skill.

Reading Comprehension. Reading practices help learners to enhance their vocabulary and promote reading comprehension. Reading activities can be offered to learners either via a well-designed learning course installed on the mobile devices or through SMS sent.

One of the known examples is a personalized intelligent mobile learning system known as PIM, designed by Chen and Hsu, in which the learners were provided with English news articles based on their reading abilities.

In fact, mobile learning programs in which reading function accompanied by text announcer pronunciation will be more helpful to promote at the same time both reading comprehension and listening comprehension.

In conclusion, we emphasize that as application of mobile technology is increasing and penetrating all aspects of the lives so that this technology plays a vital role in learning different dimensions of knowledge. Today, there is a clear shift from teacher-led learning to student-led learning that causes students using the technology more effective and interesting way. In fact, we can provide a richer learning environment through mobile phones for our language learners. Pressures of study and assignment deadlines lead students to search for effective solutions on the move. Even if students are studying in different departments, they are in a good position to share the experience across disciplines boundaries, and teachers also may find more challenging to do.

Although going through language activities on mobile phones may take longer time compared to computers, the learners feel a greater sense of freedom of time and place, so that they can take the advantage of spare time to learn a second language when and where they are. Mobile technology gets learning away from the classroom environment with little or no access to the teacher, though the learning process can hardly be accomplished without a teacher's direction or guidance. As the demand for acquiring a foreign language increases and the people time for more formal, classroom-based, traditional language learning courses decreases, the need felt by busy users for learning a foreign language through MALL will inevitably increases. In other words, MALL can be considered an ideal solution to language learning barriers in terms of time and place.




1      Canny, J. (2010). Microsoft research program. Retrieved May 5, 2012 from http://research-microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/papers/berkely.pdf

2      Kennedy, C. & M. Levy. (2008). “L’italiano al telefonino: Using SMS to support beginners’ language learning”. ReCALL, 20(3), pp. 315–350.

3      Thornton, P. & C.Houser. (2005). “Using mobile phones in English education in Japan. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning”, 21(3), pp. 217–228.

4      Chen, C. M. & S.-H. Hsu. (2008). “Personalized Intelligent Mobile Learning System for Supporting Effective English Learning”. Educational Technology & Society, 11 (3), pp. 153–180.

5      Huang, C. and P. Sun. (2010) “Using mobile technologies to support mobile multimedia English listening exercises in daily life”. In: The International Conference on Computer and Network Technologies in Education (CNTE 2010), At: http://cnte2010.cs.nhcue.edu.tw/

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