Research Minute - Professor Heather Lotherington on Mobile Language Learning

How can mobile wireless access be pedagogically exploited for innovative language teaching and learning?

The rapid social permeation of mobile digital devices—following Apple’s iPhone release in 2007—has revolutionized how people communicate, and in so doing, upended the validity of existing paradigms in language, learning, and teaching. People engage in on-the-go R/W multimodal production and sharing; social media maintenance; gaming, virtual and augmented reality applications; data searches on search engines and satellites, sometimes via anonymous voice-activated digital assistant (chatbot) interlocutors, and distribute their cognitive processing across machine functions. Though innovative indie applications for mobile language learning exist, the field has been colonized by commercial app developers, whose motivations lie outside learning. Surveys have shown that popular commercial language teaching apps utilize 1960s drill-and-kill pedagogies, push old school grammar and vocabulary memorization, teach by testing, and even nefariously tap user data while in use. This research aims to better conceptualize and exploit the potential of mobile communication for contemporary, multimodal language pedagogies.