University of Limerick
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Left to their own devices: an investigation of learner perceptions of smartphones as tools of language learning

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posted on 2022-09-21, 11:22 authored by Martin MullenMartin Mullen
Among many student populations smartphone ownership is ubiquitous, and many educators have been quick to incorporate smartphones into their classes and learning programs. There is a wealth of research documenting formal, institution-led programs in both general mobile assisted Learning and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL). However, research trends in MALL are largely confined to formal MALL, and there has been limited investigation of language learners’ self-regulated smartphone use outside of formal programmes. This study aims to identify how learners use their smartphones as part of their language studies, and to determine what perceptions language learners have of their smartphones as language learning tools. By shedding light on the learners’ existing behaviours and perceptions, the study seeks to identify ways in which smartphone-based language-learning can become more systematic and effective. The study investigates how learners use their smartphones for informal and self-regulated language study, what materials are used, and what impact informal resources such as social media sites like Facebook have on learners’ exposure to and use of their target language. The research employs surveys, case studies and a group interview to understand how learners interact with their smartphones on a daily basis. The findings offer insight into language learners’ attitudes towards their devices as study aids, their regular use of their smartphone with both formal and informal learning materials and resources, and their perception of how these behaviours impact on both their active and passive language learning. The data will make educators more familiar with learners’ current smartphone use and preferences with regard to both their learning and use of the target language. By better understanding the extent to which language learners value and avail of the affordances of smartphones, educators will be more informed in their efforts to effectively incorporate smartphones into their learning programmes.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Mishan, Freda

Second supervisor

Murray, Liam





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