If you think that your mobile phone is only for getting in touch with people, think again. Mobiles are not only becoming an entertainment center, allowing access to music, video, games and other content but also allowing real-time access to educational content as well. What does this mean? Simply put, you no longer need to be in any type of classroom to learn. Students are able to access language learning materials and to communicate with their teachers and peers, at anytime, anywhere.
Kloper et al. (2002) described five properties of mobile devices which can produce a unique educational experience:
- Portability – the small size and weight of mobile devices means they can easily be taken to different areas.
- Social interactivity – data exchange and collaboration with other learners can happen face-to-face at any time.
- Context sensitivity – mobile devices can gather, adapt and respond to real or simulated data unique to the current location, environment, situation and time.
- Connectivity – a shared network can be created by connecting mobile devices to data collection devices, other devices or to a common network.
- Individuality – activities can be customized for individual learners to handle each person’s unique problems in the most efficient way.
So, how does this relate specifically to learning English? Well, we use mobiles for speaking and communicating by using language. If we are learning a second language, we can use the mobile in engaging activities for the function that it was first intended for, namely, to communicate. Since English is the international language that practically everyone in the world needs, the mobile phone seems to be an obvious choice for enhancing English language learning in a most natural and intuitive way, especially when practicing speaking or other language skills.
So, who on earth would use mobile phones for learning English? Only about a few billion people!