Enhancing Informal Language Learning With mobile Technology - Does It Work?
Keywords:Mobile learning, SLA, input enhancement, enriched input, extensive
There are many theories that attempt to explain second language acquisition processes and factors determining success or failure. Despite a lack of general agreement between proponents of these theories, research has convincingly shown that the amount of exposure to target language input is one important predictor of ultimate achievement levels. „Time on task‟ is as important in language learning as it is in many other domains (cf. Reber, 1993) and it is therefore important to identify ways in which this can be increased. An obvious possibility is to encourage learners to engage with (and in) the language outside the classroom. Informal learning, in the sense of learning outside of formal education, has been shown to be a major aspect of adult learning (Cross, 2007) and, given appropriate preparation and support, learners can greatly increase opportunities for learning if they can do so independently. Mobile technologies have obvious potential in this regard. However, is it possible to improve language skills in this way? In this article we report on an exploratory study into the use of cellphones for extensive listening practice. We used input enhancement to draw learners‟ attention to not only the meaning of the materials but also the formal (grammatical) aspects of the input. We found that the use of mobile technology presented a number of challenges and in this study did not result in learners acquiring the target structures. We conclude with a number of recommendations for the use and future study of mobile technologies for (language) learning.
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