Going Mobile: Language Learning With an iPod Touch in Intermediate French and German Classes
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Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 445 Going Mobile: Language Learning With an iPod Touch in Intermediate French and German Classes Lara Ducate University of South Carolina Lara Lomicka University of South Carolina Abstract: Mobile devices are becoming more and more pervasive in today’s world for both personal use and educational purposes. Speciﬁc to the ﬁeld of languages, mobile‐ assisted language learning, derived from m‐learning and computer‐assisted language learning (CALL), differs from CALL in that it makes use of a personal portable device to enhance learning and give it the “anytime, anyplace” feature. Our study focused on both the learner and the mobile tool. We speciﬁcally investigated how students use mobile devices, speciﬁcally the iPod Touch, while noting differences in both personal and academic use. Using ecological constructivism as a theoretical framework, we examined the affordances of the mobile devices that encourage interaction with the target language and culture and explored a range of tasks using a mobile device. Key words: ecological constructivism, iPod Touch, m‐learning, mobile assisted language learning, mobile devices Introduction Mobile devices are becoming more and more pervasive in today’s world, both for personal use and for educational purposes. Currently, 67% of U.S. college students are smartphone users, and eMarketer (2012, n.p.) predicted that by the year 2016, 91.4% of U.S. college students will own a smartphone. However, this practice begins long before college: Croy (2012) indicated that one third of American high school students own an iPhone. The impact of mobile technology is apparent in many Lara Ducate (PhD, The University of Texas at Austin) is Associate Professor of German and Applied Linguistics at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Lara Lomicka (PhD, Pennsylvania State University) is Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Foreign Language Annals, Vol. 46, Iss. 3, pp. 445–468. © 2013 by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. DOI: 10.1111/flan.12043
446 FALL 2013 aspects of society, including art, employ- (Attewell, Savill‐Smith, & Douch, 2009, ment, language, commerce, crime, and p. 1). These handheld technologies can learning (Traxler, 2009a). include cell phones, PDAs, iPods, and iPads. In addition to the growing use of mobile Mobile tools are small, ubiquitous, and devices in these domains, the application of functional, which makes them attractive such devices to classroom practice is and easy for students to use and for generating more attention. In educational facilitating sociocultural opportunities for settings, learning and teaching using mobile learning (Pachler, Cook, & Bradley, 2009). devices is referred to as m‐learning, or more Chinnery (2006) described mobile learning speciﬁcally—“the provision of education as taking place in environments that could and training on PDAs/palmtops/handhelds, be “face‐to‐face, distance, or online; further, smartphones and mobile phones” (Traxler, they may be self‐paced or calendar‐based” 2009b, p. 2). Mobile learning, including (p. 9); in other words, devices can be used mobile‐assisted language learning (MALL), both within and outside the classroom and originally focused on the use of mobile can reduce the cognitive load by providing technologies to facilitate learning. More less information at one time (Koole, 2009). recently, however, researchers have also Speciﬁcally related to language learning, begun to focus on the mobility of the learner MALL, which is derived from both m‐ (Sharples, 2006). Using mobile devices, both learning and computer‐assisted language instructors and learners are able to “tran- learning (CALL), differs from CALL in scend the boundaries of the structural stasis that it makes use of a personal portable of classrooms and lecture halls and their device to enhance learning and give it the associated modes of communication—they “anytime, anyplace” feature (Geddes, 2004, do not have to be conﬁned to one particular p. 1). Kukulska‐Hulme (2009) noted that place in order to be effective” (El‐Hussein & MALL is more spontaneous than CALL Cronje, 2010, p. 13). because it allows for “new ways of learning, The study reported here focused on emphasizing continuity or spontaneity of both the learner and the mobile tool and access and interaction across different con- speciﬁcally investigated how students used texts of use” (p. 162) and also places the iPod Touch for both personal and learning more directly in the hands of the academic purposes. An iPod Touch is student, although guidance is still necessary. similar to an iPhone and plays music, videos, Both students’ positive attitude toward, and games and downloads apps; it also and widespread use of, mobile phones have connects wirelessly to the Internet. It is not, played a major factor in the growing use of however, a smartphone. Using ecological and interest in MALL (Burston, 2011). constructivism as the theoretical frame- Perhaps the largest area of research has work, this study considered the features of investigated the use of mobile phone devices mobile devices that encouraged interaction (Pecherzewska & & Knot, 2007). For language with the target language and culture and learners, mobile phone devices can impact explored the range of tasks for which the learning of grammar, as noted by learners used a mobile device. Baleghizadeh and Oladrostam (2010), who found that English as a foreign language students who had access to mobile phones Review of Literature scored better on a posttest than those in the Mobile Learning group without access to a mobile phone. Mobile learning (m‐learning) has been Comas‐Quinn, Mardomingo, and Valentine deﬁned as using “handheld technologies, (2009) described the use of mobile phone together with wireless and mobile phone devices to help students engage with the networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and target community and to share and com- extend the reach of teaching and learning” ment on cultural experiences in a blog. In a
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 447 three‐year study of 175 participants in suggested that learning became more stu- Tokyo, Stockwell (2010) found that 60% dent‐centered and collaborative because of learners never used the mobile phone to students could communicate with peers complete vocabulary‐related exercises, whenever they needed help. Additional while only three learners used a mobile beneﬁts of mobile learning include increased phone device to complete all of the activities. access to authentic materials, opportunities Although students claimed that it took to interact within and beyond the learning longer to complete the activities on mobile community (Comas‐Quinn et al., 2009), phones than on a computer, Stockwell noted access to comprehensible and extralinguistic that learners did improve in speed and input (McQuillan, 2006), and opportunities scores over time when using either platform. for additional language practice beyond He also found that more students in the third classroom space and time (Hoven & year of the project used mobile phones than Palalas, 2011). Mobile devices also allow in the ﬁrst year. students to document study abroad experi- In addition to studies on the use of ences (Comas‐Quinn et al., 2009) and to mobile phones, researchers have also inves- take and share pictures (Wong, Chin, Tan, tigated the use of a variety of mobile devices & Liu, 2010). In summary, Burston (2011) in educational contexts. Hoven and Palalas emphasized that students’ perception of the (2011) examined mobility with an iPod “anywhere and anytime” convenience is Touch in a university‐level blended course overwhelmingly favorable. As illustrated in English for accounting. Twelve partic- by these studies, MALL offers numerous ipants employed mobile devices to view and beneﬁts, and the mobile context is ideal respond to podcasts and to engage in mobile for supporting learner interaction and blogging. The study reported high levels of collaboration and the co‐construction of student satisfaction with this mobile device knowledge. and reported that the mobile listening Researchers have also documented new option was superior to text‐based resources. challenges raised by the use of MALL. Kondo et al. (2012) investigated mobile Stockwell (2012) suggested that the small practices with pocket gamers (Nintendo DS screen size, the restricted ways to access mobile) to see if the use of such devices input, and the limited types of tasks that may would foster a self‐regulated style of learn- be performed could inﬂuence the amount of ing. Using pre‐ and post‐assessment results information provided to learners. Sharples and course evaluations from 88 ﬁrst‐year (2009), for example, noted that there is little students in a university in Japan, they found published research on the impact of MALL that MALL encouraged study without on learners’ opportunities to speak and instructor intervention and resulted in listen to the language, and research has increases in time spent on learning tasks, shown that students and instructors do not levels of satisfaction from the tasks, and self‐ make full use of the “anytime, anyplace” measured achievement. (Geddes, 2004, p. 1) capabilities. There are Several studies have examined attitudes also psychological barriers to using MALL, toward MALL. Beres’s (2011) data from a which can include ﬁnding the balance long‐term survey of 349 university‐level between private time and study time, as second language students suggested that well as challenges associated with studying students viewed the process of language in public venues or when using public learning as extending beyond the traditional transportation (Stockwell, 2012). Other four walls of the classroom and indicated researchers (Ducate & Lomicka, 2009; that students responded positively to MALL. Stockwell, 2008) have pointed out that Nah, White, and Sussex (2008) reported students do not always choose to use a that students enjoyed being able to listen any mobile device when they have access to a where and at any time; their research also computer. Because MALL is relatively new,
448 FALL 2013 researchers and users of these devices must gate the use of iPods, iPod Touches, and keep these concerns in mind. Nintendo or gaming devices in educational Because of these conﬂicting ﬁndings, contexts. The examples discussed above Stockwell (2008) called for more studies on highlight a variety of perceived beneﬁts of students’ use of mobile devices outside of the using mobile devices, such as increased classroom. Sharples (2009) emphasized that opportunities for input and language prac- MALL remains in its infancy, and not until tice beyond the classroom as well as recently did MALL activities go beyond increased opportunities for learners to simply mirroring early CALL activities engage in interaction and collaboration (electronic quizzes, grammar drills, and and the co‐construction of knowledge. vocabulary lists). The challenge for mobile Research has also pointed to three types of learning, then, is to build a deeper and more challenges to the use of mobile devices for pedagogically solid understanding of the learning, including (1) pedagogical con- ways in which learners use a variety of cerns that involve limited access to input as mobile devices and the effectiveness of these well as types of tasks; (2) psychological devices in offering learning opportunities limitations, such as use of devices in public that are not limited to simple vocabulary or and private contexts; and (3) methodologi- grammar practice activities and quizzes. cal concerns, such as issues related to Furthermore, research into the use of control and privacy. MALL must take into consideration a variety of methodological concerns. First, as the devices are not always the property of the Ecological Constructivism researcher or are loaned to the learners for Blyth (2008) described four theoretical the duration of the project, the researcher approaches to research on second language has less control over how and when they are learning: technological, psycholinguistic, used, which can make it more difﬁcult to sociocultural, and ecological. Technological control the variables associated with their studies address the process by which new use (Pachler, 2009; Sharples, 2009). There technologies move from being used in are also privacy issues associated with society at large to their use for, and impact tracking students’ use of these devices, as on, speciﬁc educational purposes. Psycho- they are accessed by students for both linguistic studies take as a point of departure learning and personal business (Van ‘T the interaction and noticing hypotheses, Hooft, 2009); thus, user data must be while sociocultural research is based on supported by information from student Vygotsky’s theories of social learning and questionnaires in order to gain a more mediation. Ecological studies consider the complete picture of how devices were interactions among various aspects of an employed (Isomursu, Kuutti, & Väin- intervention, including the students, teach- ämö, 2004; Trinder, Scott, & Magill, ers, environment, and technological tools, in 2009). Wali, Oliver, and Winters (2009), order to determine how they work together for example, had students complete ques- to inﬂuence the teaching and learning tionnaires about how they used mobile process. Thus, the ecological constructivist devices in formal and informal settings, approach allows the researcher to examine observed learners using the devices, and both the individual process of learning and installed system‐monitoring software on how the student mediates interactions with students’ laptops to reveal what they were other learners and other learning tools doing, thus allowing the researchers to (Hoven & Palalas, 2011) and “stresses the triangulate data from several sources. interactivity of humans and their environ- Thus, although most research has ments in the process of socialization and addressed the use of mobile phone devices, development” (Lam & Kramsch, 2003, p. 6). more recent research has begun to investi- Blyth (2008) has suggested that, while each
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 449 of these four research approaches provides a intercultural synchronous computer‐medi- valuable window into second language ated communication exchange between teaching and learning, sociocultural and native and nonnative speakers, Darhower ecological approaches to research are be- (2008) noted that, while many linguistic coming more prevalent, perhaps because affordances were available to the learners, these approaches “provide insights into how the learners did not always notice and use languages are learned and how these in- them to their fullest potential. Some learners sights can be used to address practical ignored corrections by the native speakers, linguistic issues” (Lafford, 2009, p. 692). while the majority merely acknowledged the Lafford speciﬁcally noted the importance of reformulation but did not integrate it into language educators considering interactions their own language use. As many of the among, for example, learners’ attitudes and corrections were implicit, Darhower con- abilities, including linguistic, cultural, prag- cluded that the learners either did not notice matic, and affective (such as self‐conﬁ- the reformulation or did not understand its dence) elements in virtual environments as importance in the conversation. According well as when students use Web 2.0 technol- to van Lier (2004), it is the responsibility of ogies to interact and share information. the instructor and other interlocutors to When describing the ecological per- help make the affordances available and spective for language learning, van Lier accessible to learners so that they notice and argued that it is necessary to consider the can use them to their learning beneﬁt. context when investigating the learning With regard to language learning with activity because the learner “acts and mobile technology, Hoven and Palalas interacts within and with his environment” (2011) and Lafford (2009) suggested that (2004, p. 246). Part of this interaction is learners’ use of technological affordances to mediated by “affordances” (Gibson, 1979) facilitate learning can be encouraged and —that is, sources of support that are managed by the instructor, other inter- available in the environment that the learner locutors, or the task design. In their study may use to reach various goals. Depending on mobile technology, Hoven and Palalas on the user, an affordance can be manipu- (2011) noted four features of tasks that can lated in various ways. In language learning, support learning within mobile contexts: the for example, “if the language learner is active tasks (1) must contain linguistic content and engaged, she will perceive linguistic that is relevant to a variety of learner types; affordances and use them for linguistic (2) should be designed so that learners action” (van Lier, 2000, p. 252). A more actively search for the linguistic material to motivated student, or a student with more fully engage with it; 3) should require guidance, will more easily identify appro- interaction with another learner, instructor, priate affordances, such as opportunities for or instructions to provide guidance for interaction, then engage in or with them and completion of the task; and (4) should thereby learn from them. In contrast, encourage mediation and thereby provide a students who are less engaged or motivated form of scaffolding by means of interactions may not recognize all available sources of with other learners or with resources support or take advantage of potentials for obtained through mobile devices. Thus, interaction in and with the target language. learners learn to process meaning through However, in order to make use of all a ﬂuid system of mediated verbal and available resources and sources of support, nonverbal relationships that are contingent the learner must ﬁrst be made aware of these on affordances in their context and environ- affordances and their potential (van ment. These relationships may be mediated Lier, 2004). The existence of the affordance by other learners, more sophisticated users alone does not necessarily encourage action of the language, signs and nuances in the (van Lier, 2004). For example, in an context, technology‐based resources, and
450 FALL 2013 the technological tools themselves. Lan- 3. To what extent did use of the mobile guage is therefore emergent and dynamic, device provide students with increased as learners use and create authentic lan- exposure to the target culture and guage, both purposefully and incidentally, opportunities for communicating in the on the basis of their perceptions of, target language? interactions with, and action upon affor- 4. How did students perceive the use of the dances found in their learning and language mobile devices? environment (Hoven & Palalas, 2011, p. 702). Therefore, according to ecological con- Methods structivism, learning cannot be looked at only as taking place within the individual; Participants research on learning should also incorporate Thirty‐nine students in two intermediate‐ into the analysis the role of the environment, level (4th semester) foreign language classes available tools and resources, instructors, at a large southern university were involved instructions, and other learners and in the semester‐long study. There were 20 interlocutors. students in the French course and 19 While previous research on MALL has students in the German course. The partic- focused on students’ use of and attitudes ipants were between 18 and 22 years old; 22 toward MALL or on particular types of were male and 17 were female. Twenty‐four materials and activities that may be accessed had used an iPod Touch before; 11 were using mobile devices (Kukulska‐Hulme & familiar with one but had not used one Shield, 2008), few studies have examined before, and only four had never seen one. the types of tasks or types of communication in which students are engaged, nor have Procedures studies investigated the extent to which Pre‐Survey learners have taken advantage of the At the beginning of the semester, a pre‐ “anytime, anywhere affordances” of mobile survey (see Appendix A) was administered devices (p. 280). The current study seeks to using surveymonkey.com to gauge students’ add to the growing body of research on interest in the project and to assess their communication and “anytime, anywhere” level of experience using iPod Touches. learning with MALL. Based on previous research on MALL and situated within the framework of ecological constructivism, this Training study investigated students’ “anytime, any- Students either checked out an iPod Touch where” use of the iPod Touch and consid- from the Foreign Language Learning Center ered how instructors integrated the iPod at the university for the duration of the Touch into learning and how students project or used their own iPod Touch. reacted to using the iPod Touch to access Students were also allowed to use a learning materials at their own convenience smartphone if the device provided access and to suit their own needs, both within and to applications that were similar to those on beyond the classroom. Speciﬁcally, the the iPod Touch. Twenty‐seven students study addressed the following questions: checked out an iPod Touch; two German students and one French student opted to 1. Which affordances of the mobile device use their own mobile device or smartphone, did students use and with what and the remaining students used their own frequency? iPod Touch. As all students had access to the 2. To what extent were different affor- same applications and other tools, such as dances used for personal and academic cameras, on their devices, data from all purposes? students were included in this study.1 An
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 451 initial in‐class training session was provided, culture. For example, after students read a although it was not necessary because most text that took place in Berlin, students were students were familiar with the devices. able to follow the characters from place to Devices were not locked down or pre‐ place using the Google Maps app to help loaded; rather, students could freely load them visualize the characters’ journey and to devices with additional music, movies, and get to know areas around Berlin. To gain apps of their choice and use the devices for historical background on a novel they read their own purposes outside of class. Devices that took place in former East Germany, were reformatted at the end of the semester. different groups researched various histori- cal events and terms such as Stasi (secret Logs police), Freie Deutsche Jugend (similar to As it was not possible to track students’ use Girl/Boy Scouts), and the Berlin Wall and of the iPod Touches because some of the then shared the information that they had devices were owned by the students, found. When studying various cities in students were given time in class biweekly German‐speaking countries, students sur- to complete a user’s log on surveymonkey. veyed the headlines of the city’s newspaper com to record the types of affordances that and conducted Web searches of popular they used on the mobile devices for both destinations and upcoming events in the city personal and academic purposes (see Ap- to help them gain an image of the city and pendix B). think about where they might enjoy visiting. To complement a textbook chapter on media, students used the TéléPub app to Tasks watch French television commercials and At the beginning of the semester, students then made comparisons between the home received a list of French or German and target cultures. YouTube was also a applications (apps) that they were encour- useful source of videos about various aged to download; new applications were German‐ or French‐speaking cities, movie added as necessary throughout the semester trailers, music videos, and informational (see Appendix C). Throughout the project, videos about aspects of culture, such as students engaged in weekly in‐class tasks, regional dishes. This culturally rich infor- weekly homework assignments, and four mation served as a basis for discussions larger out‐of‐class tasks. about products, practices, and perspectives of culture as well as for making cultural comparisons. In‐Class Tasks Examples of in‐class tasks included (1) Homework Assignments searches about cities, people, political par- Each week for homework, students com- ties, and historical events; (2) information‐ posed three tweets on Twitter for classmates gap tasks on political parties, paintings, and to read and to which classmates were historical information; (3) exploring news- required to respond. At least two of the paper headlines; (4) searching travel apps; tweets were required to be in the target (5) comparing television commercials; (6) language, and one could be in English. The navigating Google Maps; (7) viewing You- topics were open, and the goal of the tweets Tube videos in the target language; (8) was to allow students to express themselves referencing dictionary and grammar apps; using the target language in a relaxed (9) researching and comparing weather; and manner without the pressure of writing a (10) searching and listening to French and large amount of text (posts are limited to 140 German music. Students used the informa- characters). Tweeting also served to build tion they found using their devices in class community within the classroom and, by or group discussions about the target tweeting about their daily lives, thoughts,
452 FALL 2013 and concerns, classmates learned more smoke, including the ages of the smokers. about each other, their hobbies, and inter- Describe the stereotype you chose and ests. Students were graded simply for provide evidence for or against the completing their three tweets and responses, stereotype (include a link to your sources rather than on the accuracy, complexity, or on your post). content of the messages. The four projects asked students to Out‐of‐Class Tasks present themselves, talk about their living In addition to the tasks described above, accommodations, explore a favorite spot in students completed four formal out‐of‐class town, and discuss stereotypes. The projects projects that included a video or photo were evenly spaced throughout the semes- component using their devices. These ter, approximately every three weeks. Stu- projects are described in more detail below. dents posted each project with a short description to the group Facebook page, Project 1: About Me (Individual task). which was set up as a discussion forum to Create a short video (2–3 minutes) where serve as a repository for the assignments, you discuss an interest you particularly including a link, when appropriate, to their enjoy. How did the interest come about? video, which was uploaded to the class How much time do you spend doing it? YouTube channel. Facebook was chosen Why do you enjoy it? About 10–30 because students were already familiar with seconds of the video should show your it and visited it regularly, thus making it a actual interest. logical and easy place to post information; Project 2: My Dorm/Apartment (Individu- however, any course management tool al task). Create a photo collage (using for could be used. The posts were required to example http://www.photovisi.com/) of be at least 50 words and written in the target your dorm room or things/people in your language (see Appendix D for the grading dorm room. Write about why you chose rubric). Students received one point extra those pictures, why they are meaningful, credit if they replied to another student. and what they tell about you. During the course of the project, students in Project 3: Welcome to Our City (Collabo- the French class also communicated with rative task). Create a 2‐ to 3‐minute video French students from Paris who would be with a partner showing visitors a place you visiting the following semester; thus, they want to take them to in Columbia [South were not only introducing themselves and Carolina]. Give a bit of history/back- their city to their classmates but also to their ground about the area you chose. Give future French friends. The outside audience directions from campus to the location for the German students was a group of you chose and talk about the hours you elementary school teachers from Saxony‐ can visit. Perhaps there is even a link to the Anhalt, Germany who would be visiting at Web site that you can include. the end of the semester; thus, these students Project 4: Exploring Stereotypes (Individ- also had a larger audience than just their ual task). Interview three people about classmates. Because the courses needed to what stereotypes they think of when they accommodate partner classes who were not think about France/Germany and French/ enrolled at the institution, Facebook was German people. From the list of topics most appropriate for posting the projects. you were given in your interview, choose one to explore. Then research the actual Post‐Surveys facts associated with that stereotype. For At the end of the project, a post‐survey on example, if the stereotype is that all surveymonkey.com was administered that French people smoke, look up statistics asked similar questions to those in the on how many French people actually biweekly logs about students’ use of the
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 453 devices; it also assessed students’ opinions (80%). Although only two students men- about the use of the devices in their French/ tioned prior use of iPod Touches in an German class over the semester (see Appen- academic setting, 33 out of 39 students dix E). Only 30 students responded to the (85%) responded that they were excited to ﬁnal survey, so there are fewer post‐survey use the devices during the semester and thus responses than from the pre‐survey. most began with a positive attitude toward the project. Analysis The surveys and the out‐of‐class homework Research Question #1—Which assignments were the main sources of data used to address the research questions. The affordances of the mobile device did pre‐ and post‐survey information was ag- students use and with what gregated, and data from the logs were frequency? summarized for each question. For the The survey results indicated that students short‐answer questions, the researchers used their devices for a variety of activities. read students’ responses, then organized Figure 1 indicates the number of students them by topic and theme. who used each application or tool. Data in Figure 1 show that students did indeed take Results advantage of a variety of affordances offered When asked in the pre‐survey how they by the mobile devices. When comparing the thought iPod Touches could be useful in the logs from the beginning to the end of the foreign language class, the majority of stu- semester, the researchers found no major dents suggested the use of German or French change in apps that were accessed, and it applications (100%), sharing information appeared that students generally used the (82%), navigating the Internet (95%), viewing same apps throughout the period under videos (80%), listening to music (64%), consideration unless a new app was pre- building community (82%), and communi- sented by the instructors and/or required to cating with classmates or the professor complete a particular assignment. FIGURE 1 Purposes for Using the iPod Touch
454 FALL 2013 FIGURE 2 Use of Device for Academic Purposes Research Question #2—Were assignments required its use (33%). One different affordances used for personal student remarked: “The exposure was right and academic purposes? at our ﬁngertips. The iPod Touch made it For academic purposes, students’ logs easier and more accessible to learn French.” indicated that they mainly used the mobile Another echoed, “It was a constant reminder device for apps, the dictionary, searching, to practice the language and think about and tweeting (Figure 2). For personal use, things in French.” A student in the German students gravitated toward Facebook, mu- section reported, “Previously, I never would sic, searches, and apps (Figure 3). When have even thought about German outside asked whether they used the devices more the classroom, but this semester, I was more frequently for personal purposes or for exposed because of the fact that I was always language learning, students responded looking at German on Facebook and from their logs in an even split (15/15). Twitter.” Only a small number of students did not feel that the mobility aspect was important. One reported no gain in expo- Research Question #3—To what sure outside of class and clearly preferred a extent did use of the mobile device computer: “I did not really use my iPod Touch for language purposes outside of provide students with increased class. I would use my computer.” exposure to the target culture and The out‐of‐class tasks allowed students opportunities for communicating in the opportunity to create videos where they the target language? practiced presentational skills to communi- As mentioned above, students used the cate in the target language through writing device both in and out of class. Ninety and speaking, as is evident in Table 1. percent of the students indicated (27/30) Through the in‐class assignments, in which that they gained more exposure to the target students worked with target culture apps, language outside of the classroom due to the explored authentic Web sites, or watched device’s mobility (13%) and the fact that the authentic videos, they employed their
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 455 FIGURE 3 Use of Device for Personal Purposes interpretive communication skills and were When asked about whether they en- exposed to target culture products, practi- joyed their devices, 87% of the students ces, and perspectives. Survey results indi- replied that they did (26/30). Two students cated that, because students had constant only somewhat enjoyed them, and two did access to the iPod Touches, they also not enjoy having them for the semester. explored the target language and culture Nine (23%) were fearful of losing them, on their own in ways not connected to or damaging them, or breaking them. Of the 39 required by their classes. devices “loaned” out, all were returned with exception of one that was stolen. Students’ favorite aspects were having a portable Research Question #4—How did dictionary (18%), writing Twitter posts students perceive the use of the mobile (15%), and being able to work on the go devices? and look up information anytime and Ninety‐three percent of the students (28/30) anywhere (21%). One student commented, felt that their learning increased as a result of “A lot of the apps allowed me to solve basic having access to an iPod Touch throughout issues with my grammar, also it helped a lot the semester due to the mobility of the as an English‐to‐French dictionary to refer- device and accessibility of the apps and other ence.” Another likened it to having a features. When asked about why they felt computer in class: “It was like using a that they learned more, one student replied, personal computer in class. We could “It forced us to think in French more, and do research artists and culture. I also could less translation in our heads,” while another look up words in the dictionary when mentioned that “it was super easy to access speaking.” Yet another stated, “It integrated French.” Another student responded, “I was technology into learning, which is a very able to read German news by using different progressive approach to teaching the lan- apps.” Yet another replied, “Yes, I was able to guage that held my attention.” Fifty‐six ﬁnd words I wanted to know anywhere.” percent of the students agreed that it made
456 FALL 2013 TABLE 1 Out‐of‐Class Tasks Standards Project Description Addressed About me: • Communication • Individual (presentational) • Create a short video (2–3 minutes) where you • Communities discuss an interest you particularly enjoy. How did the interest come about? How much time do you spend doing it? Why do you enjoy it? About 10–30 seconds of the video should show your actual interest. My dorm/apartment • Communication • Individual (presentational) • Create a photo collage (using for example http:// • Communities www.photovisi.com/) of your dorm room or things/ people in your dorm room. Write about why you chose those pictures, why they are meaningful, and what they tell about you. Welcome to Columbia • Communication • Collaborative (presentational) • Create a 2‐ to 3‐minute video with a partner showing • Communication visitors a place you want to take them to in (interpretive) Columbia. Give a bit of history/background about • Communities the area you chose. Give directions from campus to the location you chose and talk about the hours you can visit. Perhaps there is even a link to the Web site that you can include. Exploring stereotypes • Communication • Individual (presentational) • Interview three people about what stereotypes they • Cultures think of when they think about France/Germany • Connections and French/German people. From the list of topics • Communities you were given in your interview, choose one to explore. Then research the actual facts associated with that stereotype. For example, if the stereotype is that all French people smoke, look up statistics on how many French people actually smoke, including the ages of the smokers. Describe the stereotype you chose and provide evidence for or against the stereotype (include a link to your sources on your post).
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 457 learning more portable and convenient, and iPod Touch speaks to another beneﬁt of the 54% stated that it helped make them more mobile devices. While some of the tasks in motivated to learn German or French. which students engaged might be possible to Students’ preferences for tasks in future accomplish using a laptop, students did not semesters included producing videos, using necessarily have at their disposal a laptop or, the devices for tweeting, and communicat- if they did have access, they did not routinely ing with classmates or native speakers via bring the device and use it for research Skype or Facetime. during class. In addition, on a laptop, the To summarize, students took advantage necessary apps and video/digital camera of a variety of affordances when using their features were less readily available. mobile device or iPod Touch. According to the From a pedagogical perspective, their survey, searching, tweeting, and Facebook simplicity and mobility made the devices were among the most popular tools. For quite useful in the classroom for reference, personal use, students tended to take advan- research, and completing jigsaw tasks. tage of the social media and music features Rather than having to go to the computer most frequently, while for academic use, they lab, students could easily access their mobile explored apps, dictionaries, and search tools. devices to gather information or complete a Finally, students overwhelmingly enjoyed short task and then put them away when the being able to use a device as part of their task was complete. As all students had access language class, and a main advantage they to a mobile device, it made it easier to reported was the exposure to the target complete video projects, which required language and culture outside of the classroom. students to use the language outside of class, and in some cases to interact with other Discussion native speakers. One caveat to using the As shown by the survey results, the beneﬁts of devices in the classroom was that it was using iPod Touches in the foreign language sometimes difﬁcult to ascertain whether classroom were clearly recognized by the students were using them for academic or participants in this study. iPod Touches are personal use. While they were readily easy to use on the go, can facilitate autonomy available for reference at any time during and increased exposure to the foreign class, it was not always obvious if students language, and offer access to authentic were looking up a word or checking materials and resources and to the target Facebook. language and culture. The following sections comment further on each of these aspects. Autonomy and Increased Exposure Students’ comments on the surveys showed Ease of Use and Mobility that the easy access to affordances on these Two of the most cited advantages offered by devices also played a large role in providing the iPod Touch in the post‐survey were ease opportunities for increased exposure to the of use and mobility (see also El‐Hussein & target language and culture. To help students Cronje, 2010; Sharples, 2006; Traxler, 2007). make best use of affordances available to Similar to Burston’s ﬁndings (2011), the them, and as recommended by van Lier simplicity of the iPod Touch and ability to (2004), students were provided with a list of access it any where and any time stood out as possible applications and were able to choose a major beneﬁt for the students. As noted by which apps to use both within and outside of Traxler (2007), the mobility, ease of use, and class. Students acknowledged that they access to the device allow learners to “exploit enjoyed being able to explore and use apps, small amounts of time and space for such as Anki, Leo, Twitter, word reference, learning” (p. 8). The obtrusiveness of and itranslate on their own and beneﬁtted bringing laptops in the classroom vs. the from the ﬂexibility and freedom to use the ﬂexibility of being able to quickly access an devices in ways that corresponded with their
458 FALL 2013 needs and interests. Kukulska‐Hulme and (1) students were exposed to various types Pettit (2009) conﬁrmed these same ﬁndings. of linguistic content; (2) tasks were designed Their study, involving graduates of the to encourage students to engage with this Institute of Educational Technology at the linguistic material; (3) in order to fulﬁll the Open University who used mobile devices, guidelines of the tasks, students had to found that mobile learning “gives individuals interact with another student or at mini- the capacity to make use of electronic mum, engage with the instructions of the resources and tools in ﬂexible ways that suit task; and (4) students were encouraged to their circumstances and lifestyles” (p. 152). interact with the resources available through Being given the time and affordances that the device and their fellow classmates. As were necessary to guide their own learning recommended by Lafford (2009), using the allowed students in the current study to iPod Touch to complete assignments also “stumble and learn” (Comas‐Quinn et al., allowed students to more effortlessly and 2009, p. 101) and thereby discover new quickly engage in real‐world tasks, such as information they had not necessarily planned conducting an interview, completing online to ﬁnd using the devices in ways that guided searches, and describing themselves and their own learning. their city. Although not everything they did As evidenced by students’ comments and on the device related to the target language, logs, they had the time, autonomy, and it was encouraging to see from the logs and affordances to explore the target language short‐answer questions that students did and culture in ways related to their classes, make an effort to engage with the target which ultimately provided them with more language so as to manage their own learning exposure to the target language and culture on and discover items of personal interest both the topics and in the ways that most interested in and outside of the classroom. them. Students also reported spending in- creased time listening to and reading in the target language thanks to having the device, Opportunities for Standards‐Based which also increased their exposure to the Learning language outside of class. Each student could Thanks to the availability of the iPod work at his or her own pace to explore topics Touches, students’ greater access to authen- of interest. The autonomy and ﬂexibility of the tic materials and increased opportunities for devices could be one reason why students felt communication allowed them to meet each that their learning increased with the use of of the 5 C’s that are outlined in the the iPod Touches. Standards for Foreign Language Learning (National Standards, 1999). First, use of the Access to Authentic Materials and iPod Touch greatly enhanced students’ Target Language and Culture opportunities to engage in all three com- In addition to ease of use and mobility and municative modes: students met Standard increased exposure and autonomy, students 1.1 by using the language to communicate could more easily access authentic materials with each other in the target language of the target language and culture with the through Twitter and Facebook, they met iPod Touch. Students accomplished this Standard 1.2 when they interpreted authen- both on their own as they explored various tic listening and reading passages from apps and through the more structured tasks online sources, and they met Standard 1.3 that they were required to complete, when creating projects for their classmates including the weekly in‐class tasks, weekly to read and view. Through using apps and homework assignments, and four larger out‐ visiting authentic Web sites created by and of‐class tasks. As noted by Hoven and Palalas for the people of the target culture, students (2011), use of the affordances offered by gained insights into the products, practices, the iPod Touches had multiple beneﬁts: and perspectives of the target cultures
Foreign Language Annals VOL. 46, NO. 3 459 (Standards 2.1 and 2.2) and made extensive Conclusion comparisons with their own language and This study offered a preliminary look at culture (Standards 4.1 and 4.2). Using the MALL, most particularly how students used iPod Touch to gather information on topics a mobile device “on the go” both within and such as art and artists, geography, historical beyond the language classroom, at times and events, and political systems, students places that best accommodated their sched- easily reinforced their existing knowledge ules and learning goals. The ﬁndings in other disciplines while also learning new suggested that intermediate language stu- information and acquiring new points of dents who are offered the use of mobile view (Standards 3.1 and 3.2). By communi- devices will take advantage of the affordan- cating with their classmates and, more ces for personal and academic uses, thereby important, with the native French and allowing increases in the amount of time German speakers who had personal and allocated to language learning and thus meaningful reasons to read and react to greater exposure to the target language and students’ work through Twitter and Face- culture. As one student summarized, “I book, students became part of vibrant could think about the language anywhere language communities (Standard 5.1). and anytime.” When iPod Touches were put Finally, it is hoped that by engaging in into the hands of learners, the range of authentic tasks, participating in live‐time activities and live‐time access to authentic discovery, and sharing information in the materials, resources, and support trans- target language with peers and authentic formed learning, offering students unlimited audiences, students will become motivated access to resources, opportunities to com- to continue language study and thus municate using the language in important become lifelong learners (Standard 5.2). and meaningful ways, mobility, conve- nience, and opportunities for learning anywhere and at any time. Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research Note Although it could be difﬁcult to replicate 1. As the vast majority of devices used in this this study due to the small sample size, the study were iPod Touches, we refer to the reliance on self‐reported data from surveys devices as such throughout the article. and logs, and the ever‐changing nature of mobile technology and the possibilities it offers, there are several recommendations References for future explorations. First, as more and Attewell, J., Savill‐Smith, C., & Douch, R. more students acquire smartphones, pro- (2009). The impact of mobile learning: Examin- viding a mobile device may no longer be ing what it means for teaching and learning. needed because students may be able to use London: Learning and Skills Network. their own devices rather than using a Baleghizadeh, S., & Oladrostam, E. (2010). device on loan. Further research could also The effect of mobile assisted language learning track students’ devices to monitor more (MALL) on grammatical accuracy of EFL precisely the sites, the apps, and the language students. MEXTESOL Journal, 34, 1–10. used in order to have a clearer picture of how Beres, D. (2011). Mobile‐assisted language students use devices both personally and for learning from the student perspective: Encour- academic purposes. In addition, there is a aging effective language learning strategies outside of the classroom. In B. R. Facer & M. need for longitudinal studies on MALL that Abdous (Eds.), Academic podcasting and mobile explore the many advantages of the social and assisted language learning: Applications and mobile nature of the devices for out‐of‐class outcomes (pp. 93–110). Hershey, PA: IGI use. Global.
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