Custom «Potential of Mobile Devices to Improve Learning Foreign Languages in Formal Settings» Essay Paper Sample

Potential of Mobile Devices to Improve Learning Foreign Languages in Formal Settings

1.0 Introduction

It is a common observation that students in institutions of learning such as in campuses and colleges are fond of communicating with their colleagues and friends by use of technological devices. The communication which is in form of text messages and SMS is facilitated by the fact that students own small technological gadgets in the form of PDAs, iPhones, laptops or mobile Phones. The devices have the capacity to allow any form of communication in the form of written messages due to their ability to virtually connect users through the internet without the limitation of distance. Just before the start of lectures in class, students are occupied by this day to day technological routine as they wait for the lesson to commence. Even in other formal places like offices workers will engage in this kind of communication with their colleagues as they seek to enquire anything from them or to pass any form of message. The same has extended in public gathering. For instance, during political addressing politicians will pass information to one another by the use of these technological gadgets as they try to avoid the tedious long process of moving from their sitting position to where they want to deliver the messages. The list of instances where mobile devices have found their application in the modern world is endless. These small devices have become a link to friends, peers, and families through texting, listening, and watching. As a result, the same peculiarity has amounted to become the basis or rather the fundamental part of the user’s daily language in passage of information and promotion of ideas. Thus, it be can be generalized that small technological devices have become people’s way of life; it is predictable in the near future that, with the development and production of cheaper, efficient and more convenient mobile technological devices everybody might adapt this type of communication.

This paper seeks to give a concise analysis of the vast potential of mobile devices in improving learning foreign languages in formal settings. The paper will provide an expository explanation of a wide variety of current and emerging technological devices that pose a promising future in promoting learning formal language through the use of handy technological devices. Particularly, it will critique the great effect in which individuals using different language can use the same approach to enhance their interaction without the limitation of diversity of languages’ settings. In this effect, discussed also are the ideal opportunity to improve the engagement, authenticity and efficiency of mobile learning. Apart from listing down multiple benefits that accompanies the use of mobile devices in learning foreign languages, the paper will also narrow down the analysis to point out some factors that might restrict the effectiveness and efficiency of the same. Most importantly, the methods and techniques applied in learning foreign language by using mobile technological devices will be presented.

2.0 Mobile Assisted Language Learning

2.1 What Is Mobile Assisted Language Learning?

Mobile Assisted Language Learning can also be called M-Learning. It incorporates any type of learning that uses portable devices such as mobile phones, iPods, PDAs, palmtop computers, MP3/MP4, portable radios, and electronic dictionaries. The learning is dependent on small devices that are autonomous and capable of comfortably accompanying one as he or she moves from one place to another (Arnone, Small, Chauncey & McKenna 2011). Therefore, Mobile Assisted Language Learning can be said to make use of handy devices that should be available anywhere and anytime where they might be needed. With M-learning, individuals are in a position to learn across multiple situations, via social and current interactions through the use of mobile devices. An institution of learning using electronic learning can comfortably make good use of M-learning to administer its lesson to M-learners found in different locations within their most time of convenience. M-leaning facilitates an instantaneous means of communication for everyone using the same content allowing reception of immediate feedback (Arrigo, Kukulska‐Hulme, Arnedillo‐Sánchez & Kismihok 2013).

An additional important concept in Mobile Assisted Language Learning is that the technology is associated with web features and applications that provide a platform for the interaction; Sharing of information among users is done through a user-centered design which is carried out in collaboration with the World Wide Web (Beatty 2013). This feature will be covered in details further in this paper under the methods and techniques applied in successful Mobile Assisted Language Learning.

2.2 History and Background

The history of Mobile Assisted Language Learning dates back to the early as 1980s. During this period, telephones became an important tool in providing feedback and assistance to distant language learners (Chen, Chang &Yen 2012). In the years around 1990s, lecturers and instructors from the University of Brigham Young Hawaii introduced a distant teaching mechanism where English Course from Hawaii to Tonga was taught through a telephone and a computer. The same model has evolved significantly over the years, which was especially witnessed in the years around 2000s, when students from South Korea become the first beneficiaries English conversations taught through teleconferencing (Comas-Quinn, Mardomingo &Valentine 2009). In the same decade, Stanford University commenced a program in which integrated mobile phones were to be utilized in leaning of Spanish in the University (Chinnery 2006). The same development was progressing in Thornton and Houser where mobile phone technology was used to teach English in a Japanese University. Mobile learning in itself has constantly continued to gain a good reputation. This is particularly in institution of high learning. In the recent couple of years, most universities in developed countries have adopted this mode of teaching to teach their students foreign languages courses: through the application of wireless handheld computers in various classooms’ settings (Edirisingha, Rizzi, Nie & Rothwell 2007).

2.3 Application of Mobile Devices

Modern mobile technology is taking a pivotal role in transforming how information and ideas move across the globe. For the first time in history of mankind, people can access information and communicate with their loved ones from whatever location in the world they are and without the limitation in time (Fallahkhair, Pemberton & Griffiths 2005). Individuals are only required to have mobile devices that have access to the internet. Use of mobile devices in a classroom to teach foreign language incorporates the use of handheld computers, PDAs, and smart phones. Through the application of mobile devices in classrooms students are guaranteed of sufficient information that comes from these technological devices (Ferguson & Shum 2012). Mobile devices are important in enhancing group collaboration among students in a class since students are in a position to pass and share information through communication applications, interactive displays and video conferencing. This feature has ensured that class management becomes very easy on part of the instructor as instructors can manage the class even without making a physical appearance (Gikas & Grant 2013). As a result of interactive technology, students are allowed to participate in the study process actively as well as manipulate information. Today, classroom activities and information can be accessed via mobile devices that ensures that there is a continuous form of learning from inside and outside the classroom (Gu, Churchill & Lu 2014).

Mobile devices, for instance, a Smartphone can be used for long distance education. Students who are pursuing courses that require them to communicate ideas that relate to their courses can be notified through their Smartphone’s on assignments, exam dates, exam results, lesson venues, etc. The best bit about mobile devices is that they have enabled to establish a collaborative environment between the instructor and the student (Gromik 2012). As a result, students have greatly benefited from the same as they are able to make consultations on concepts they did not understand or where they can get information about the same (Hsu 2013). Mobile Assisted Language Learning has significantly promoted Mobile Assisted World Learning. Thus, the use of mobile devices has led to a collaborative social-networking interface for learning new words through the use of Smartphone. The interface has been designed to keep track and save all textual information and contexts. During the reading process, in addition to providing augmented virtual reality, further assistance on behalf of the instructor is enhanced, for instance images, translations into native language, antonyms, synonyms, sentence usage, etc. Study conducted by the FutureLab regarding literature review found that mobile technology application has led to accrued communication, collaboration and understanding of concepts related to foreign language (Hwang, Huang, Shadiev, Wu & Chen 2014).

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2.4 Benefits of M-Learning

Focus on the benefits that concern M-learning shows that they increase every day, thus supporting an indisputable idea that use of mobile technological devices is the way forward in e- learning. Several studies, which were done from the Oxford University regarding M-learning, indicated different benefits in mobile technology learning that are obviously helpful and reflect a bright future in assisting individuals learn with a lot of ease, convenience and flexibility (Jarvis & Achilleos 2013). M-learning holds an immense role in the growth and development of e-learning exercised by both parties from institution of learning and those who might chose to learn at the comfort of their homes. The benefits can be attributed to the ever emerging and increasing technological developments that happen each day. The immediacy of information feedback and communication amounting to hi-speed and live interaction can be held accountable for the rising benefits that are regarded with M-learning (Jahnke, et al. 2012). The following is a list of benefits that come along with the application of M-learning in the study of foreign languages in formal settings.

To start with, Mobile Assisted Language Learning is associated with a lot of convenience and flexibility. One can access this type of learning from whatever location all over the world and at any time that is convenient. Distance has never been a limiting factor while learning foreign language. As already evident since the discovery of mobile technology learning, institutions of learning have found it easy to offer foreign language courses to learners located at different countries and states all over the globe. Instructors offering tuition on these courses have continuously recognized the flexibility that concerns M-learning facilitated by the fact that lessons can be administered to learners at the comfort of their homes (Kearney, Burden & Rai 2015). Consequently, a lot of people have found interest in learning foreign language due to the ease and flexibility that comes along with it.

Secondly, Mobile Assisted Language Learning is attributed to a lot of information relevancy. In the process of learning foreign language from universities, colleges, offices and from whatever formal location, mobile learning has ensured that the training is situated rather than simulated (Kim, Rueckert, Kim & Seo 2013). Therefore, mobile learning has been successful in providing a platform whereby learning is possible at the point of need. With a mobile device, it is possible to access the training and learning while one feels that it is the most appropriate time to learn and while one thinks there is little or no physical and mental distractions at all, which might hinder him or her from accessing the foreign language instruction materials transmitted from via one’s handy device. For this reason, even busy companions working at offices and industries have what it takes to learn foreign language while still in their line of duty or when they feel relieved of their roles at the place of work (Kinash, Brand & Mathew 2012).

Mobile learning allows learners control. With the ease that comes from mobile learning aand the availability of information from whatever location and any particular time considerations, mobile learning empowers learners to take initiative and manage their own learning activities. It is for this reason that learners have to be responsible of their progress in learning the foreign languages while not being monitored by anyone in the name of a tutor or an instructor (Kukulska-Hulme 2009). This way, learners can determine the amount of time that they will allocate to particular studies given online instructions via mobile devices.

Mobile learning is the best type of learning that allows the utilization of ‘dead time’. With this type of learning, learners can pursue learning while travelling in a vehicle, train, and airplane or from any mode of transportation. In line with that, individuals can also learn and have their research about foreign language while still waiting for buses at the bus station. This way, it is in no doubt that mobile learning beats other types of learning: it provides one of the most efficient ways in making good use of ‘dead time’, in addition to allowing learning flexibility and time convenience (Kukulska-Hulme & Shield 2008).

This type of learning fits many different styles that are used in learning. Specifically, those which make use of graphics and texts, animation, video, listening to podcasts, leading to discussions, exploring the web, choosing the correct response and answers, rating skills on a formal language among others are all means of learning that takes part in mobile learning (Land & Zimmerman 2014). Further to the discussions that are inclusive in the above form of writing, users can enquire, consult as well as clarify on instances where they did not understand a certain phrase or word from a foreign language.

Another benefit that is a result of mobile learning is that, social learning has been significantly improved. That is, mobile learning has improved in a positive way the manner in which peers and experts communicate within societies. The use of mobile phones, sms, text messages, and the use of telephony have facilitated a cordial interaction between different kinds of individuals (Lai, Khaddage & Knezek 2013). For instance, tutors and peers interacts with a lot of ease in the process of sharing knowledge through ’ask a question forum’. This way, many people have benefited a lot from these types of forums as they seek to be knowledgeable about a particular foreign language (Lys 2013).

Moreover, it encourages reflection in that the use of mobile device that is able to record audio and video has come out to facilitate effortless and instant recording of thoughts and opinions. Learners can reflect from the same to try and figure out what the recorded voice or video wanted to imply. This way, individuals are in a better position to learn foreign language as they try to reflect on a certain recorded voice or video that is in a non native language (Ng & Nicholas 2013).

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This type of learning facilitates easy evidence collection. With the portability that comes along with mobile devices, the portability allows them to collect portfolio evidences through audio, camera or video. Thus, spam information can easily be detected in comparison with other set of information regarding the same collected at other similar instances. In addition to this, learners can easily identify varied information that will benefit them from misleading one that is given by fake respondents purporting to be instructors of online courses (Park 2011).

Mobile devices support decision making; as already discussed earlier in this paper, mobile learning devices allow timely access of information regarding the learning. This advantage has in turn facilitated quick double-checking of a decision, opinion or response given to a particular question therefore enabling better and professional judgments (Sandberg, Maris & de Geus 2011). This way, one can keep or rather note information that will be helpful to him hence avoiding cheating information from unscrupulous respondents trying to make a living out of giving wrong information. In a nut shell, the idea here is that live interaction facilitated by mobile technological devices have allowed users to interact effectively just as it would have been possible in reality (Pegrum, Oakley & Faulkner 2013). Therefore, one can tell who is giving the correct information as well as who is cheating.

Use of Mobile Assisted Language Learning is one of the best ways in boosting and improving the learner’s confidence. Since mobile devices allows students to research on a certain topic that they will cover in class prior to the lesson, it in turn allows them to have a clue of what the lesson will be about hence watering down the fear that comes with the random questions that are asked by tutors in classrooms. This has improved learners’ confidence and self esteem in classrooms in handling of certain assignments and tasks (Shum & Ferguson 2012). Additionally, individuals in meetings and gatherings no longer have to miss some ideas communicated in a foreign language; they can confidently record conversation proceedings taking place in such gathering and have an interpretation of the same from the use of mobile devices that are installed with translating applications and interfaces. The applications have been designed in such a way that they can translate any foreign language to the desired language in form of recorded speech and texts (Steel 2012). A good example is Google translator that is found on the internet.

With Mobile Assisted Language Learning one can be assured of easy and digestible learning. The information that can be provided via mobile devices is limited, thus, only specific and simplified information is transmitted through these devices (Terantino 2011). Tutors and those responsible in posting of ideas, theories and concepts that regard mobile learning has always ensured that the information is brief and to the point. Small screen which are found on mobile devices minimizes the amount of information that can be provided to a learner at any given time, as a result this, there has been reduced cognitive overload in provision of information and ideas (Stockwell 2012).

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