Technology is readily available, and it is reported that 90% of people in developed countries possess a mobile phone. It is therefore understandable why there are so many emerging mobile language Apps in the market.
This industry has a massive impact on online and distance learning, especially on “mobile assisted language learning” (MALL). This approach allows for flexibility from the learner’s view and points out the convenience of learning as the materials are always available to the student (stored on their phone). They can study when and where they choose to do so: when commuting or waiting in a line at the cinema.
Learners can use the App at any time to revise phrases, vocabulary and grammar so to reinforce the already acquired knowledge. By doing so, they will be able to recall it when needed.
Learners can speak from the get-go.
The Apps are designed to get you speaking as quickly as possible. They focus on the first group of vocabulary you will need to introduce yourself, tell your name, ask for basic information. This is an excellent way to boost your motivation.
Learners save money by using the language Apps.
Attending a course at a college or university or even buying an online course can be quite expensive. Most Apps have a free version, and even when you must pay, the price is quite reasonable.
Learners learn at their own pace, study what is relevant to them and pay more attention to what they need to know.
Furthermore, learning a language through a mobile App makes the learning process more enjoyable and also boosts the learner’s motivation through gamification.
Language Mobile Apps permits a holistic practice of the language by allowing the development of the four skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. They facilitate the memorisation of new vocabulary words by using spaced-repetition techniques. Students can easily use Apps that match their level, they are able to self- assess and monitor their progress.
Learners are autonomous and can create their own learning process. They are engaged in authentic learning activities; through the Apps they can collaborate with others. Learners can set their own goals and regulate their learning as they wish.
Mobile Apps also help learners acquire cognitive thinking skills in their second language, as well as develop their technological skills.
The down side of language Apps reside in the fact that some of them don’t teach prior to the exercises or assessments and often the feedback is minimum by just pointing out what is right or wrong.
There is also a lack of accountability which can be detrimental for learners who lack self-discipline.
Mobile Apps bear a lot of advantages and they might appeal more to younger generations. I’m up for it, if this can motivate them enough to learn a foreign language. But despite these advantages I strongly recommend the combined use of mobile Apps and online or in-person courses to fully reap the benefits of both world and progress faster.
Do you use mobile Apps? which ones?