Mobile Assisted Language Learning

What research is available on mobile assisted language learning for English as a foreign language?

According to Pilar, Jorge, and Cristina (2013), technology is providing opportunities to develop educational apps that engage learners,  “mobile technologies also require the thoughtful integration of EFL pedagogy” (abstract).

I had the honour of writing the foreword for Language Bridge Technology: Speak English by Arkady Zilberman, Ph.D. You can get the kindle version on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZS887JA/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

As an experienced teacher of English as a foreign language (EFL) in high school and higher education for over 35 years, and a practitioner of computer-assisted language learning since the early 90s, I believe that mobile applications are necessary for today’s learners.

According to the developers of LBT, the system seems to activate the right-brain function concurrently with the left-brain function through a precisely ordered series of steps beginning with priming of implicit memory (the type of memory in which previous experiences aid a learner in the performance of a task without invoking the learner’s conscious awareness of these previous experiences). Priming implicit memory consists of observing Word Clouds graphically formatted in 3D space for about 60 seconds while listening to relaxing music. Each Word Cloud has a dynamic content: each time a learner opens the application a different set of words from the current lesson is displayed, and different relaxing music plays.

The developers of LBT indicate that the system minimizes content in the native- language context (and never pronounces it in the native language). Translations do not facilitate language learning. They hinder it. It is not surprising that when performing the remaining drills of the Reverse Language Resonance-based application, the learners improved their retention of language skills. I observed this in the speaking abilities of the Polish students learning EFL with an LBT-certified teacher whose progress was documented in the videos linked to the web site.

I like the simplicity and inventiveness of testing the learner’s ability to speak automatically without thinking or translating from the mother tongue – a learner starts a short conversation describing any situation from his or her experience, ignited by a word on a display that is randomly selected from the just-completed lesson. The learner’s speech is automatically recorded and used for evaluating fluency. The learner can share the recording via social networking or by attaching it to an email to the teacher in the case of blended learning.

The new text that can be added by a learner or teacher is used for simultaneous speech shadowing while listening to a natural-sounding voice generated by text-to-speech software.

References

Pilar, R. A., Jorge, A., & Cristina, C. (2013). The use of current mobile learning applications in EFL. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences103, 1189-1196. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Download full text in PDF

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