MOBILE-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (MALL): PROMISING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING
Mobile technologies are explosively spreading in every part the world. Unlimited options of mobile applications (apps) are now available -mostly for free- through leading mobile platforms such as Apple® (App Store and ITunes), Google® (Android), or Nokia (Ovi Store). A learner of English, who owns a relatively cheap Smartphone, can download a totally free language app in seconds. According to recent studies and global reports on the spread of mobile technology, 90% of people on our planet are now covered by mobile network and that by 2011, 85% mobiles shipped worldwide will have an Internet browser on them. Not only that but, it is expected that by 2015 mobile Web browsing will exceed desktop Web browsing. Taking into consideration the fact that generation Y is highly geared towards this evolving new mobile technology, we as educators and language teachers have no choice but to adapt ourselves to the modes of mobile learning (m-learning) in our teaching and in the development of educational materials. Recent studies show that m-learning is not just another type of learning technology. It’s rather a new era that is expected to re-conceptualize how people learn. Language learning is one of the disciplines that are witnessing promising evidence of the viability and great usefulness of the new mode of learning. We as language teachers need to keep abreast of this rapidly evolving field of learning in order to gain the most benefits from it. M-learning is not just going to be one learning option for the coming young generations; it rather seems that it is going to be the leading mode of learning. The challenge, however, is how to best utilize this unbelievably fast growing technology within the framework of the well-established methodologies based on current learning theories in order to avoid offering learning experiences to our learners that are merely technology-based. Another challenge is also to consider unique learning and teaching solutions for unique educational and cultural contexts and to resolve the threats felt by some educators as well as learners and consequently their resistance to this new type of learning. As teachers we can either take the initiative and investigate this new notion or be part of the educational history. In this paper presentation, I will shed light on the current position of mobile learning within the framework of foreign language learning and will discuss the future possibilities of this new learning technology. I will also point out some of the current practices as well as challenges and limitations of this field. Finally attendees will walk out with some handouts with information about how they can help their students benefit from mobile applications for English language learning.