Students and Teachers’ Perceptions into the Viability of Mobile Technology Implementation to Support Language Learning for First Year Business Students in a Middle Eastern University
Author(s)Bilal M. Tayan
KeywordsMobile Assisted Language Learning, Perceptions, Viability, Saudi Arabia
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AbstractAdvancements in technology have enabled us to learn, adapt and exploit our skills and knowledge in new ways. Appreciating the potential of technology may yet give growth and enrich the process of language education, particularly through a student-centred mobile learning environment. Consequently, a constructivist approach to learning can create tremendous possibilities for both language learners and teachers. By exploiting the affordances of mobile technologies and the Internet, a new platform of learning or Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) can be realised, through which learners truly learn to learn. Yet, while many of today’s language institutions and places of learning have begun to understand the potential presented by mobile technology as a tool and resource to content and language development, apprehension may still exist among educational practitioners, learners and senior management. Such apprehension may stem from a lack of understanding in fully appreciating the opportunities and affordances posed by MALL in creating a support structure to learning and teaching excellence. This may be particularly true within developing countries such as those found in the Middle East. Consequently, set in a Saudi university context, the purpose of this study is to investigate learners’ and teachers’ perceptions towards the proposed implementation of a MALL programme, while exploring whether the promotion of mobile technologies could assist learning and become a viable support structure in teaching English as a second language. Interviews were conducted with three English instructors who teach on the first year Business English programme at the university. The study also analysed 191 student participants who completed a Likert scale questionnaire designed to explore their mobile learning experiences, attitudes and perceptions towards the proposed MALL programme in their educational context. The findings from the student questionnaire and teacher interviews generally highlight positive attitudes and a receptiveness towards mobile learning implementation. This is perhaps due to the possibility of new pedagogical scaffoldings being created through MALL in their learning/teaching environment. The results further highlighted opportunities MALL presented in facilitating communication and affording learners greater motivation to engage in independent learning, thus facilitating learner autonomy and allowing for greater collaboration within a richer learner environment. However, while analysis highlighted a proposed MALL implementation could be a useful tool to support language acquisition for ESP/ESL learners (English for Specific Purposes/English as a Second Language), technical issues, network sustainability and comprehensive training were still significant factors of concern.