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The Reality of MALL: Still on the Fringes

Issue: Vol 31 No. 1 (2014) Web 2.0 and Language Learning

Journal: CALICO Journal

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.11139/cj.31.1.103-125


Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) has existed now for nearly two decades with its application to foreign language instruction chronicled in some 340 implementation studies. For several years already, proponents have claimed that MALL is commonplace in foreign language instruction. In reality, with few exceptions, published studies of MALL implementations have not progressed much beyond pilot testing, i.e., design proposals, proof of concepts, limited experiments, class trials. Above all, what is most striking about published MALL implementation studies is the virtual lack of follow-up reports of curricular integration. In order to put MALL applications into perspective, this paper is organized into three sections. The first gives an overview of published MALL implementation studies, the second provides a comparative analysis of MALL applications, and the last addresses the issue of MALL curricular integration. On the basis of this review, the paper concludes that MALL remains marginal in terms of the number of students and courses involved, the duration of implementations, the language skills targeted, the kinds of learning activities undertaken and the methodological approach used. Nonetheless, it also maintains that the necessary technological base and pedagogical expertise are in place to bring MALL in from the fringes to the core of foreign language teaching.

Author: Jack Burston

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