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Presenters : Dr. Ebere Asinobi-Iroadu Dr. Ashraf Khalil Dr. Salam Abdallah - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Presenters : Dr. Ebere Asinobi-Iroadu Dr. Ashraf Khalil Dr. Salam Abdallah Affiliation : Abu Dhabi University, United Arab Emirates. Title of Paper :

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Presenters : Dr. Ebere Asinobi-Iroadu Dr. Ashraf Khalil Dr. Salam Abdallah

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  • Presenters:

  • Dr. Ebere Asinobi-Iroadu

  • Dr. Ashraf Khalil

  • Dr. Salam Abdallah

  • Affiliation: Abu Dhabi University, United Arab Emirates

  • Title of Paper:

  • Mobile Learning Initiatives: A Comparative Study of Email and SMS Mobile Applications as Tools for Acquisition and Retention of Vocabulary in English Language.

  • Abstract:

  • This research proposes to use SMS to deliver English vocabulary to students.

  • We posit that having a strong collection of vocabulary is the first and foremost element needed for effective skills in learning any second language.

  • Our goal is to increase and improve our students’ vocabulary collection as a first step towards enhancing their overall language skills

  • Using mobile devices and service to deliver the vocabulary provides many advantages over traditional delivery tool.

  • Furthermore, using digital media of SMS might provide even better alternative to email, posting them to a website or as a paper print out.

  • Introduction

  • Arguably learning the English language is a major challenge facing the Arabic native speakers. In many cases this difficulty impacts negatively on their learning as it constitutes an obstacle in their academic achievement. This is most manifest at the tertiary level where students who often were taught in Arabic all through their primary and high school years are expected to transform to users of the English language instantaneously.

  • This inability to acquire the necessary English language skills is reflected in the inability of students to read course materials, read for pleasure, understand instructions given in English, interpret exam and text questions accurately, and express themselves meaningfully in any writing assignment or exam.

  • The students quickly revert to their native Arabic tongue even when communicating with non Arabic instructors.

  • Many universities try to remedy this situation by introducing different transitory and remedial levels of the language

  • The major identifiable problem is a lack of adequate English vocabulary to either express themselves orally or in writing- The lack of adequate vocabulary also limits their ability to read meaningfully as they do not know the words nor understand their meanings. It is well known that any learners of any language must acquire sufficient vocabulary to use the language meaningfully. This is a need that requires addressing.

  • There is also a need to address the methods of teaching acquisition of vocabulary and use of same at the tertiary level of education. The fact remains that most of these remedial measures are offered within the formal and traditional walls of the classrooms with text books and writing boards as tools. However, the new age students often get bored with formal and traditional forms of study (Asinobi-Iroadu, 2010). If traditional methods of teaching the acquisition of vocabulary are failing, there is a need then to look to other more pragmatic and innovative ways of achieving the same goal-

  • Mobile learning in general has been used in the past to teach English as a second language and was proved to be an effective tool. However, much of the teaching has focused on lesson models thought over the internet to non native speakers who pay a fee and sit for an exam at the end of the course to obtain a certificate. There has not been much research on how teachers can use the new media and digital technology to teach vocabulary.

  • Most contemporary learners are using SMS extensively on daily basis to communicate with their friends and family. SMS is usually treated with the sense of urgency and read at the same time it is received.

  • Having the vocabulary on the cell phones allows students to have constant and unfettered access to them where they can review them whenever they are free or have a short break between activities. Such a review process is essential in the vocabulary learning.

  • Another advantage of the SMS is its collaborative nature. Students are always interacting with their cell phones and are very likely to share and the vocabularies with their peer and friends thus expanding and extending the knowledge base beyond their classmates to others. To the extent that the students will learn and retain the vocabulary anywhere and everywhere, we think this research is relevant to enhance their language skills.

  • Literature Review

  • In the expansion and collation of world countries into almost one global economic entity English has stood as the most sought after language. Acquiring the English language has not only become important but critical to playing any meaningful role in international business activities. Countries that have hitherto ignored the language are now spending massively to educate their citizens in the language. Many programs have been introduced to assist in the teaching of English as L2 or FL.

  • Difficulties in acquiring the language exist and seem to render so much effort that has been made ineffective. There is a general lack of proficiency of learners in almost all the four language skills. However, one basic component of the language that affects all others is the vocabulary.

  • One can neither listen to nor speak; and read nor write meaningfully in any language without words. Yet there has been a neglect of this aspect in L2 or FL teaching.

  • . Andreea I. Constantinescu contends:

  • “Generally, L2/FLreaders need to recognize approximately 95 per cent of the words in a given text in order to comprehend its meaning and they need to know the different meanings of words according to context, as well as words' grammatical properties. In summary, it can be pointed out that reading and vocabulary is inter-related, in other words, good readers have a rich vocabulary, and similarly, a rich vocabulary is one of the key elements that ensure reading proficiency” (2007)

  • It has also been noted that most of the efforts to encourage vocabulary building through the traditional methods have not yielded much results. Negmeldin Alsheikh in a paper titled “How can you become a Strategic Vocabulary Builder” (2011) recommends “flexibility, thinking outside the box and adapting to changing [learning] environment” as strategies that can be more effective in vocabulary teaching.

  • Tozcu and Coady (2004) conducted a case study that examined the outcomes in vocabulary acquisition when using interactive computer-based texts as opposed to traditional materials. The aim of their study was to determine the effect of direct vocabulary instruction via computer assisted learning as opposed to traditional vocabulary training via print texts.

  • Lyman-Hager and Davis (1996), who integrated a computer program into the French foreign language curriculum and discussed vocabulary acquisition and students' glossing choices for 262 intermediate level students studying French.

  • Chun and Plass (1996a) who presented the positive results of three studies with students in their second year of German who used Cyberbuch, a multimedia application offering various types of annotations (picture, text, video).

  • However, all the studies mentioned above including Constantinescu’s limit the use of these methods to classroom instruction.

  • This research argues that technology should go beyond the classroom to meet learners where they are most available and present; in the digital and web spaces of their mobile devices and internet sites.

  • Mobile devices can be used for more meaningful and academic activities as the learning new vocabulary through mobile phone SMS and Email Our study proposes this.

  • Research Objectives

  • This is a collaborative Action Research intended to improve the English language vocabulary acquisition and use amongst students enrolled in English courses.

  • Therefore the research is participatory and its results would be beneficial in increasing students’ learning and improving teacher’s methods.

  • Moreover, it takes learning beyond the confines of the classroom to meet the students where they interact all the time; in all the places: mobile phones and the internet.

  • Research Design and Methodology

  • We evaluate the effectiveness of using SMS as language learning tool particularly in vocabulary teaching compared to using the email which seems to have become a more traditional tool in terms of new technology.

  • We test the best media the participating students prefer receiving the vocabulary from, the vocabulary retention as well as students’ engagements using both techniques.

  • Research Questions

  • 1. Is traditional second language vocabulary teaching method meeting the needs of Arab second language learners?

    2. Are there inherent potentials and advantages in using email and SMS to enhance acquisition of new vocabulary?

  • 3. Do students prefer receiving and learning these new words through email or SMS?

  • 4. How effective are both methods in enhancing students’ retention of new words?

  • 5. Are students able to demonstrate a preference for new technology by responding via same technology?

  • Research Sample and Population:

  • The proposed sample for study is students enrolled in three English Language courses.

  • These students are enrolled in English courses that require reading literature texts in English, acquiring English grammar and also writing an exam in Technical Writing in English.

  • The total class enrollment in the three courses is 90 students.

  • The Research: (Data Collection)

    The researchers use the Pre-Test and Post-Test method to test and gather responses that could answer their research questions. The activities involved in this method include:

  • 1. Selecting 60 words that can be used in conjunction with key concepts in order to enhance participants’ communication skills.

  • 2. Giving a pre-evaluation at the start of the study, where we evaluated the participants’ knowledge of the selected vocabularies.

  • 3. The participants are asked to write the meaning of the words provided and also make correct sentences with them. They were also asked to leave the spaces against any words they do not know the meaning blank.

  • 4. The participants are asked to write down their email addresses and mobile phones numbers in spaces provided on the vocabulary paper.

  • 5.Participants are informed they will receive SMS on daily basis with a new English word comprising of the words they indicated they did not know the meaning together with an example of its usage.

  • The participants are encouraged to respond (at their convenience) with the same world used in another sentence. An average of four new words is sent through email or SMS per day.

  • 6. These new words and their meaning are sent over a period of 6 weeks.

  • 7. A post test is conducted using the same words sent to the participants at the commencement of the research, the participants are asked to write the meanings of the words and use them in meaningful sentences.

  • 8. A set of questions are attached to which participants are asked to respond to. A provision is made for personal comments on their general impression about the research and what they have learnt.

  • Data Analysis

  • The data collected is subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis.

  • The Pre-Test and Post-Test Data are analyzed using quantitative and comparative methods while the questionnaire and Comments/opinion section are analyzed using qualitative methods.

  • The literature on second language learning, vocabulary learning and mobile learning is also incorporated in the discussion and implications of findings.

  • Discussion of Findings

  • At the end of the study a questionnaire was conducted to solicit participants’ feedback on their perception on the value of the study and the best channel for building their vocabulary.

  • When asked about the channel (SMS or email) on which they would like to receive their daily vocabulary, 50% of the participants selected SMS while 41% selected email. 9% choose both methods.

  • When asked why they prefer SMS many cited convenience and ease of using SMS and the availability of the mobile devices at all times.

  • This statement from one of the participants indicates why they value the SMS "because it is with me all thetime". Those who prefer email do so because it is convenient for them as they check it daily. We expect as more people move to smartphones the distinction between SMS and email will be blurred and the mobile would remain as a favorable channel.

  • When asked whether participants show the vocabulary they receive to family and friends, responses varied widely. Some participants showed none of the vocabulary while others showed all of it, and some even made a point of using the vocabulary in discussion with family and friends. In total, 55% showed their vocabulary words; as stated by one participation “I have send half of the words to my friends“, however, only 23% went so far as to send the vocabulary words along to their family or friends by SMS or email. This indicates SMS (s) can be easily shared and has the potential for creating a social network effect.

  • 91% enjoyed receiving it themselves and would opt to continue receiving it.

  • Only 5% did not wish to continue the service,

  • 4% were unsure.

  • Of those who would like to continue with the service, 40% chose to receive it by SMS,

  • 25% by email, and another 25% by both SMS and email. One participant noted that he or she preferred to read it on SMS but forward it to friends and family by email. Regardless of the channel the participants have appreciated the idea of having knowledge pushed to them at a minimalist approach.

  • 32% percent of participants suggested ways to improve the service.

  • Some suggested extending the service to Facebook and other social media, again this a natural proposition as we see more and more integration between various channels of communication.

  • Another idea was suggested to consolidate messaging to five vocabulary words per email or message.

  • Overall, the experiment was a clear success, with most participants noting the service was beneficial and 91% stating that it helped to increase their vocabulary.

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, 8% of participants rated the service 10, 8 is the average.

  • Half of participants were even willing to pay for such a service, with another 9% stating “maybe”, although 41% said “no”.

  • Conclusion

  • This study shows positive indication to adopt the use of the mobile as a channel to build the students knowledge in the English language. Future studies would to refine the existing approach to determine the best way for pushing knowledge to students and on how to encourage sharing of knowledge between them as a way to enforce learning and to improve retention.

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