Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Potential of Mobile Learning in Teaching of ESL Academic Writing

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Potential of Mobile Learning in Teaching of ESL Academic Writing

Article excerpt

Abstract

The potentials of mobile learning in teaching academic writing skills for ESL students are explored in this paper. Although there have been studies on MALL to improve writing skills, academic writing was never really touched. Few aspects are covered like the changes in educational technology, defining MALL, identifying issues in academic writing by ESL students, approaches used in academic writing and pedagogical approaches used in MALL. Through the discussions, it is proved that mobile learning can be integrated into academic writing by using it with several writing approaches which complements the pedagogical advantages in mobile devices. Based on past studies and the discussion, it can be concluded that the potential of mobile learning in teaching ESL academic writing is high.

Keywords: MALL, mobile learning, teaching, writing, academic writing

1. Introduction

Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) is gaining popularity everywhere especially in Europe, the United States and parts of East Asia that are of English medium (Nik Mastura et al., 2011). Even though its concept is still emerging and unclear (Traxler, 2007), many are using it due to its portability, connectivity and the mere fact that almost everybody owns a smart mobile (Samsiah et al., 2013).

Although mobile learning does have its downside compared to a computer, there are many studies on the usage of mobile learning for specific language skills like listening, speaking, reading, grammar and vocabulary (Guerrero et al., 2010; Suneetha, 2013; Lee & Kim, 2013). However, there are not many studies on how to use mobile-learning to teach writing skills. This can be seen clearly when Burston (2013) did a bibliography which consists of 345 publications on Mobile Assisted Language Learning from 1994 to 2012. Out of the 345 publications, less than 5% used MALL to enhance writing skills.

Thus, this paper would like to explore the potentials of mobile learning in teaching academic writing skills for ESL students by covering a few aspects. First, is to see the changes in educational technology to see how it has evolved to mobile learning. Then, MALL is defined and its features are listed to see the suitability for writing classes. After that, the paper would like to identify what are the issues faced in academic writing by ESL or EFL students. Next, all the different approaches that can be used to teach academic writing is listed and lastly, the pedagogical advantages in mobile learning are also mentioned to see how well it can complement with the writing strategies.

2. Changes in Educational Technology

Educational technology can be any tool that helps to deliver and to receive information between the educator and learner (Humes & Raisner, 2010). It is always changing because both education and technology are evolving and this can be seen clearly through the brief history of changes in educational technology that has led to mobile learning.

In the early 19th century, education was restricted mostly in the classroom where teachers rely on different methodologies and theoretical conceptualisation. Slowly, technology was introduced where teachers incorporate radios, overhead projectors, and silent films as part of their teaching tool. Technology started to develop fast when the television was invented in the 1940s, where learning started to become more visual and interesting. By the 1950s, headphones became popular to promote second language learning. Soon, in the 1970s, the use of tapes as a school software was found to be useful in enhancing speaking and listening skills.

Computer was a game changer in education technology however it was not used for educational purposes until the late 1960s (Gündüz, 2005) as the ratio of computers to students is very low. Only in the beginning of 1980s could computers be found in many schools in developed countries and by this time, computer assisted language learning (CALL) software is also available on the market (Gündüz, 2005). …

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