Can mobile devices support collaborative practice in speaking and listening?

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme & Lesley Shield

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Mobile learning is undergoing rapid evolution. While early generations of mobile learning tended to propose learning activities that were carefully crafted by educators and technologists, thanks to widespread ownership of mobile and wireless devices, learners are now increasingly in a position to engage in activities that are motivated by their personal needs, including those arising from greater mobility and frequent travel. Consequently, mobile learning now needs to discover “what is gained through having portable tools that support observations, interactions, conversations and reflections, within and across various contexts of use” (Kukulska-Hulme, Traxler & Pettit, 2007). It is frequently argued that mobile devices are particularly suited to supporting social contacts and collaborative learning -- claims that have obvious relevance for language learning. A review of publications reporting mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) was undertaken to discover how far mobile devices are being used to support social contact and collaborative learning. In particular, we were interested in speaking and listening practice and in the possibilities for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. We reflect on how mobile language learning has developed to date and suggest directions for the future.

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