Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) Applications for Interactive and Engaging Classrooms: APPsolutely!

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Ajda Osifo
Amanda Radwan

Document Type


Source of Publication

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences

Publication Date



Mobile Assisted Language Learning, a specialization of mobile learning, represents a new field of the educational system, which offers new possibilities of delivering content to learners and facilitates the learning process. Mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) or m-learning which is defined as learning with mobile devices that can be utilized in any place that is equipped with unbroken transmission signals[1] has created new opportunities and challenges for educational use. It introduced a new learning model combining new types of mobile devices, wireless communication services and technologies with teaching and learning. Recent advancements in the mobile world such as the Apple IOS devices (IPhone, IPod Touch and IPad), Android devices and other smartphone devices and environments (such as Windows Phone 7and Blackberry), allowed learning to be more flexible inside and outside the classroom, making the learning experience unique, adaptable and tailored to each user [2]. Creativity, learner autonomy, collaboration and digital practices of language learners are encouraged as well as innovative pedagogical applications, like the flipped classroom, for such practices in classroom contexts are enhanced. These developments are gradually embedded in daily life and they also seem to be heralding the sustainable move to paperless classrooms. Since these varied digital technologies are increasingly viewed as a main platform for delivery, we as educators need to design our activities, materials and learning environments in such a way to ensure that learners are engaged and feel comfortable. This paper presents how apps (for Apple devices) can be integrated into teaching and learning in higher education. Current Approaches to MALL The use of mobile devices in education has become common across all educational sectors and the range of research into the use of mobile communication technologies for the purposes of language learning has been diverse. This is motivated by a search for effective pedagogical innovations and educational applications of new media since classroom instruction needs to constantly adapt to new technologies and interests. As mobile learning has gradually gained popularity, several researchers have attempted to develop models and frameworks to explain where and how mobile learning fits within the context of education to support various kinds of learning. Pereira and Rodrigues [3] presented "the evolution of the learning models" where mobile learning is the most recent model, which reduces the limitations of the previous models. Fig. 1. The evolution of the learning models [3] Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula and Sharples' report [4] stated that mobile devices can support traditional pedagogical approaches as well as contemporary approaches. In their literature review, Viberg and Gronlund [5] found that the theories and models applied on MALL mostly derive from previous theories of learning such as constructivism and social constructivism. With a constructivist approach to learning, learners actively generate ideas or concepts based on their current knowledge and build on what they already know as they are encouraged to collaborate with peers to do so. Project-based learning, a constructivist approach, allows mobile technology integration in meaningful ways so that learners can explore and develop content purposefully and engage in authentic problem-based, casebased and inquiry-based learning using the most efficient mobile applications and tools such as mobile investigations or casual games. A more recent development is Siemens' theory of "connectivism" [6] which is described as "..including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age". Combining connectivism with constructivist approaches offers learners an opportunity to achieve 21 st century skills such as technology-mediated multi tasking. Blended-learning approach [7] is another way to integrate mobile technology applications into classroom practice by using Learning Management System Apps or Personal Learning Environments such as blogs. The flipped classroom, where the sequence of activities or assignments is rearranged so learners watch teacher created videos outside the classroom so that they spend more time for practice in class, is conceptually grounded in active learning and student engagement theories and is made effective with MALL applications. Given that mobile technology devices and tools are still rather new and developing, using an integrated pedagogy in ways that support engagement of learners should be the driving force behind our classroom practice. MALL Apps in Language Learning Mobile technology involves the use of portable devices that are also embedded in our daily lives, such as mobile phones, smart phones, tablet PCs and other hand-held gadgets and the fact that learners are already using communication facilities and technology-related activities such as content creation on their portable gadgets has contributed to teachers' efforts to integrate them into teaching and learning. These screen-based technologies are significant in educational technology as they provide many advantages like mobility of the learners and flexibility of the learning environment, connectivity and accessibility to materials, authenticity, creativity and collaborative learning. With MALL, learners are able to combine the advantages of the Internet with personalized and ongoing learning activities anytime, anywhere. Ally [8] describes mobile learning as "powerful support for effective learning and performance-based assessment". Since the arrival of Apple IPhone in 2007 and the IPad in 2010, a wide range of MALL applications have been developed which are intended to enhance the learning process, create a learner-centred environment and focus on the ongoing process of learning rather than the end result. Learners increasingly lead tech-filled lives outside the classroom and mobile apps offer the ability to capture the full attention of the learners with full customization in regards to personal preferences and differentiation. There are a lot of apps available for carrying out a variety of tasks from media creation to productivity.




Computer Sciences | Education

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access