Mobile applications are all anger. But how do language learners find them useful compared to traditional language software? In this article, I have recently introduced the basic findings of a research study to the students’ perception of mobile applications for language learning.
The survey was conducted with a total of 290 respondents between users of a French and dictionary website. Of these:
- almost one-third (31%) use a mobile device to help with language learning;
- nearly one-third (30%) reported that they did not have a mobile device that could run applications;
- The remaining 39% reported that they did not use this device for language learning while they had a device that could run the application.
All participants were asked if some of the features of mobile devices were a benefit for language learning, even if they used their devices for language learning. Among these, the clearest perceived benefit by participants (56% in agreement) did not support learning “bite size” of applications: mobile applications were usually designed to be taken for a short period of time without the need for long concentrations.
At this time, the participants apparently do not see the use of the applications as part of “mainstream learning”, but this may be in their best interests. More than a third of respondents (38%) agreed that the benefits of the practices allowed learning outside of a school or other formal setting. A similar number (37%) saw a benefit in practice as “additional tools” of language implementation to “help sink things”. It will be interesting to see how these perceptions change as more mobile devices are adopted on a more general basis to the class.
With the existing audio, visual and tactile interfaces found on today’s mobile devices, we could find the interaction to provide a benefit. However, less respondents thought this was the case, with only 25% accepting the phrase “I find a mobile application more interactive.” This may be a message to application designers that they need to use it to better use the devices’ input and output capabilities.
The average price of a training application can only be expected to be perceived as a benefit of the lower price of applications, with only a few dollars (and increased pressure on the application prices). Surprisingly, users did not think price was an important factor: only 22% of the respondents agreed that the lower price of the applications was beneficial when compared to regular software.
This survey gave the first picture of trends related to users’ perceptions and experiences in using mobile applications for language learning. In particular, users see the benefits of mobile applications as a way of learning extracurricular, brittle. On the other hand, it appears that mobile devices have not yet fully exploited the potentially interactive features.