Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Learning English Vocabulary in a Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) Environment: A Sociocultural Study of Migrant Women

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Learning English Vocabulary in a Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) Environment: A Sociocultural Study of Migrant Women

Article excerpt

Introduction

A large volume of research has been published in the Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) field over the past twenty years following the rapid development and advancement in mobile technologies (Burston, 2014; Stockwell & Hubbard, 2013; Viberg & Gronlund, 2012). As part of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), MALL utilises mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and iPods to support language learning (Chuang, 2009; Ozdogan, Basoglu, & Ercetin, 2012; Stockwell & Hubbard, 2013; Tai, 2012). Research has demonstrated the feasibility of MALL for language learning; however, the majority of MALL learning takes place within academic contexts, such as schools and universities where participants are literate in their native language, familiar with English, and are in a formal and structured environment. The research reported in this paper is part of a larger study investigating the learning experiences of migrant women in a nonacademic context, who have lived in Australia between two and seven years, are literate in their native language, but are struggling with English. In Australia, proficiency of the English language is essential for general social interaction, furthering education and employment (ASIB, 2012; Bimrose & McNair, 2011; Colic-Peisker & Tilbury, 2007; Fozdar & Hartley, 2012; Smolicz & Secombe, 2003).

This study focuses on the sociocultural factors that affect migrant women's language learning in general and vocabulary acquisition in particular. This study specifically addresses vocabulary acquisition as it is a branch of language that is important for second language oral proficiency (J. Ahmad, 2011; Choo, Lin, & Pandian, 2012; Coady & Huckin, 1997). Vocabulary acquisition, centering on the speaking and listening branch of language development, is seen as useful and beneficial for migrant women to develop general English proficiency (K. S. Ahmad, Armarego, & Sudweeks, 2013). The approach to learning vocabulary adopted in this study is supported by Halliday's (2004) and Vygotsky (1978)'s sociocultural theory.

Background

For this study, the term 'migrant women' refers to women who enter Australia under the family reunion program or for humanitarian reasons. Typically, the purpose of migration is to build a new and better life for families; however, the causes of migration can be "personal and voluntary" or "forced" due to political turmoil, threats to their lives, violence, famine, or war (Kunz, 1973; UN, 2013; UNHCR, 2011; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001). Settlement into a new life includes having to learn and adapt to a new culture, dealing with emotional and psychological issues, dealing with sociocultural and socioeconomic challenges, and learning English as a new language (OMI, 2012). The lack of English language proficiency is one of the common barriers for migrants' settlement in Australia (Coates & Carr, 2005; Colic-Peisker & Tilbury, 2007; Fozdar & Hartley, 2012; Migliorino, 2011). For women, this barrier cannot be overcome as quickly as for men. To some extent, pressures of family duties, staying at home and engaging in fulltime care of families, leads to isolation from the broader community for several years. As a consequence, finding employment can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. Personal and sociocultural factors are the important influences in the lives of these women (AMES, 2011; ECCV, 2009; McMichael & Manderson, 2004). It has been observed (K. S. Ahmad et al., 2013; RCOA, 2010) that, in terms of these women learning English, the programs offered by local and non-profit community-based centres are the best alternative to the formal government-funded programs. Even though the former is non-accredited and short term, it is the kind of learning opportunity and space that suits their needs for a friendly and non-rigid learning environment that allows them to learn and practise basic speaking and conversational skills. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.