ENHANCING ACADEMIC VOCABULARY LEARNING FOR UNDERGRADUATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS USING MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
University of Ontario Institute of Technology (CANADA)
Mobile technologies have been increasingly integrated into language learning and teaching (e.g., Basoglu & Akdemir, 2010; Stockwell, 2007), a few studies, however, have examined the effect of text messages, one of the most frequently and widely used services by adolescents and young adults (Lenhart, 2012), on ELLs’ vocabulary learning (e.g., Lu, 2008; Zhang, Song, & Burston, 2011).
This presentation showcases an intervention project funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada that aimed at teaching undergraduate English language learners (ELLs) academic and low frequency words through readings required by their English for academic purpose (EAP) courses with instructional support via text messages. About 100 participants from diverse linguistic backgrounds were recruited from six content-based EAP classes in a large Canadian university. The curriculum material and innovative instruction for the intervention were designed to synchronize with their course outlines in order to form a synergistic effort to help the students learn difficult words that they rarely use for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICs) referred by Jim Cummins (2008), which they urgently need to succeed academically. The intervention lasted for 3 months. With a 2 x 2 factorial design, we analyzed pre-and post-vocabulary test scores, and compared the effect of two learning conditions on vocabulary learning outcomes, where students learned words with and without the additional mobile-based instructional support. The results showed that the students learned significantly more words in some categories with the technology-based support. The implication of the study points out that it is feasible to accelerate ELLs’ learning of academic vocabulary within a short timeframe often being considered as challenging by tapping into their interest in new technologies with explicit instruction. The curriculum units developed for the intervention and pedagogical recommendations will be demonstrated during the presentation.
 Basoglu, E.B., & Akdemir, O. (2010). A comparison of undergraduate students’ English vocabulary learning: Using mobile phones and flash cards. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 9(3), 1-7.
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 Cummins, J. (2008). BICS and CALP: Empirical and theoretical status of the distinction. In Street, B. & Hornberger, N.H. (Eds.). (2008). Encyclopedia of Language and Education (2nd. Ed.) Volume 2: Literacy. (pp. 71-83). New York: Springer Science + Business Media LLC. Retrive from http://daphne.palomar.edu/lchen/CumminsBICSCALPSpringer2007.pdf
 Lenhart, A. (2012, March 19). Teens, smartphones & texting. Washington DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-smartphones.aspx
 Lu, M. (2008). Effectiveness of vocabulary learning via mobile phone. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24, 515-525. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2008.00289.x
 Zhang, H., Song, W., & Burston, J. (2011). Reexamining the effectiveness of vocabulary learning via mobile phones. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(3), 203-214.