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Anastassiya Aliyassova, Innovative University of Eurasia

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Daniyar Sapargaliyev
29 January 2015

Mobile learning is a relatively new trend in the development of e-learning, in which with the help of mobile devices the users have access to course materials anywhere and at anytime. For support of mobile learning specialized systems are developed. They not only manage the educational content but also provide its adaptation and adequate visualization.

M-learning may have an impact on the English language learner. Nowadays, in different communities around the world, mobiles are used widely, and researchers have conducted research into this topic. Similar to research done in this area around the world, this research attempts to investigate m-learning amongst InEU (Innovative University of Eurasia) students in Kazakhstan.

According to Dudeney and Hockly (2007), M-learning refers to a set of technological devices, including smartphones, MP3 players and hand-held computers that might have an impact on language learning. Due to globalisation, recently, technological devices have become widespread, not only in the developed countries, but also in developing ones such as Kazakhstan. Thus, various types of mobile devices are accessed by the users, particularly smartphones. However, it is still not clear to what extent mobiles are effective with regard to EFL university students in terms of English language learning.

Potentially, M-learning has many advantages for EFL university students when it comes to learning English. One of the advantages could be the possibility to download certain English applications and programs that may help learners to improve their language skills, their language systems like grammar and vocabulary and increase their awareness of such international tests such as TOEFL and IELTS. If a learner uses these applications, this might aid their English language experience. Also, there are many free electronic PDF books, some of which relate to the English language. Thus, the learners might use these electronic books to develop their English language learning. This certainly seems to be true for Kazakhstan, as obtaining these books by any other means is both difficult and costly.

M-learning increasingly seems to be a subject of research throughout the world, in that in recent years the technological field has been expanding. Although there is some research on mobiles in relation to education and other fields, there are relatively few pieces of research into the impact of mobiles on language learning in the university context, particularly in Kazakhstan. This paper aims to fill this gap. Therefore, the outcomes and the findings of this paper might be helpful in terms of future trends associated with M-learning, not only in Kazakhstan, but also in the whole of Asia and even the world.

As explained earlier, this subject is chosen because of the lack of research in this area in terms of Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the aim of this paper is to investigate the extent of the impact of M-learning on EFL university students in terms of language learning. In order to obtain logical and reasonable answers to this question, focus group discussion is used as a data collection method to tackle the issue.

The experiment shows that mobile devices impact the way English Language Skills are being formed. English language skills can be categorised into receptive and productive skills. The former refers to both listening and reading skills, whereas the latter relate to speaking and writing. Based on all the

participants’ viewpoints, smartphone applications had an impact on their receptive and productive skills. Also, there are some other applications that are like an integration of both language skills and systems.

Based on the research it is clear that the majority of the participants

focused on the effectiveness of mobiles (smartphones) with regard to their English language learning experience. That means that mobiles have a great impact on 99% of the targeted students. Although this might be considered a big claim, the discussion regarding the impact of various relevant applications on language skills and systems and international tests may prove the effectiveness of smartphones from the point of view of EFL language learners. The point that may strengthen this finding is the fact that various skills and systems of English language, including the four skills, vocabulary, grammar and TOEFL, were used by the learners. Using these applications may confirm that they could be effective in terms of their learning experience as they are all about learning English, particularly the skills which are used in the CLT classroom. If the students make use of these above-mentioned applications, it can be claimed that they benefit from the use of smartphones when it comes to improving their language learning. Therefore, this can be a good step when it comes to developing their English in the ELT classroom. Given that all the participants used smartphones to enrich their English language learning, as was hypothesized earlier, university students are under the influence of mobiles for English language learning to a great extent.

Mobiles, in particular, smartphones, were used by all the targeted university students at Innovative University of Eurasia in Kazakhstan, as they are easy to carry, and have the same functionality as larger mobile devices. A great number of

applications can be found in smartphones with regard to English language learning. Thus, applications such as radio programmes, free PDF books and articles, vocabularies, advanced grammar, TOEFL, spell checking and proofreading were used by the targeted university students. That is to say, they encompass listening, reading, speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar, and increase awareness of international tests. These are major aspects of English language, particularly for EFL students in a CLT classroom. As a result, they are effective, not only outside the classroom, but also within the ELT classroom.

99% of the participants of the experiment used mobiles to a great extent for developing their English language learning. This was suggested by the participants themselves in the focus group discussion. Furthermore, each discussed application is relevant to English language learning. Therefore, as it had been hypothesised, it canbe concluded that the mobiles (smartphones) have a great impact on English language learning by nearly all the targeted university students in InEU, Kazakhstan.

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Daniel Chun
5:30am 6 February 2015 (Edited 5:31am 6 February 2015)

Thanks for sharing on the development and use of Mobile Learning in EFL in Kazakhstain context. In a practical sense, the mobile devices and applicaitons do make it easier to disseminate content and learning resources - reaching the learners.

I would like to also add that mobile learning may bring pedagogical implications to both students and teachers who are both actors (as in a classroom) in the sense when they dialogue. And traditional classrooms, tools of mediation are often bound by physical space / time.

I am uploading my position paper soon and I hope this can further stretch the discussion alonig the line about socio-cultural integration and intercultural understanding and meaning making by way of informal chat or purpose-built chat groups using Mobile Messaging Application (eg. WhatsApp)

Cheers, Daniel Chun

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