Profiling a MALL App for English Oral Practice
A Case Study
Ana Ibáñez Moreno (Ghent University, Belgium)
Anna Vermeulen (Ghent University, Belgium)
Abstract: The field of MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) is in its golden era. Nowadays, there are more than 80,000 apps on the market, around 30,000 of which are devoted to language learning, especially English. Most of them have been developed outside the academic world. [Calle-Martínez et al., 13] and [Martín Monje et al., 14] suggest that, although several studies assess and propose rubrics to analyse the technical, pedagogical and cognitive validity of educational apps [Santiago, 12, Santiago et al., 14], in the field of language learning there is a need for a solid theoretical framework which, based on pedagogical, linguistic and technical precepts, can constitute a guide of good practices in the development and use of MALL apps, as well as an assessment tool to distinguish those apps that lead to successful learning outcomes from those that are mere time-fillers. VISP (VIdeos for Speaking) is a MALL app developed by members of the UNED-based ATLAS research group and the Ghent University-based GOLLD research group to promote oral practice in English, based on pedagogical and linguistic standards. In order to assess its validity it has been tested with two different user groups: Spanish and Belgian students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This paper shows the similarities and differences in their use and production. Given the differences in the ways of approaching and using the app, the results show that even though this MALL app was more effective with Spanish students in terms of motivation, Belgian students, though less motivated, performed better. In this light, the present study is in line with [Byrne, 14], concluding that this type of MALL app should be 'localized' according to the learners' cultural and linguistic factors, and suggesting that pedagogical standards of MALL apps should also take into account cultural factors.
Keywords: English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Mobile Learning (ML), Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) profiling, Technology-Enriched Learning (TEL), oral skills