Leveraging the affordances of mobile learning for vocabulary gains

Source of Publication

14th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in the Digital Age, CELDA 2017


© 2017. According to research findings, learners who are about to commence an undergraduate degree course with English as the medium of instruction (EMI), require a minimum English vocabulary size in order to decode and comprehend the academic texts that they have to read (Hazenberg and Hulstijn, 1996; Staehr, 2008; Laufer and Ravenhorst-Kalovski, 2010; Schmitt, 2010; Nation, 2013, Milton and Treffers-Daller, 2013). In the United Arab Emirates, several thousand Emirati students attend English foundation programmes prior to starting their EMI degrees in order to improve their academic skills, such as reading and vocabulary knowledge. However, despite the increased use of Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) and the introduction of mobile learning in 2012, the results of this study show that the vast majority of female Emirati still have an insufficient receptive vocabulary size for beginning an EMI undergraduate degree course. In addition, the use of a generic vocabulary learning app over a four-month period has not led to a significant increase in most students' vocabulary size. The reasons for this could include the fact that the generic app does not fully utilise the affordances of mobile learning, it is not underpinned by pedagogically-sound vocabulary learning principles and that it does not focus on the particular learning needs and lexical weakness of Emirati students. Therefore, the author has worked as part of a team to develop and build a new, customised, mobile app that has attempted to address these weaknesses and help Zayed University students reach the required vocabulary learning goal.

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Conference Proceeding



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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Michael Bowles, Zayed University

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