Why and how do distance learners use mobile devices for language learning?


  • Valérie Demouy The Open University
  • Ann Jones The Open University
  • Qian Kan The Open University
  • Agnes Kukulska-Hulme The Open University
  • Annie Eardley The Open University




Language learning, Mobile-Assisted Language Learning, distance learning, flexible learning


Most of the literature on mobile language learning is located in classroom contexts, and often concerns the use of resources developed by teachers or researchers. However, we also need to understand learner initiated practices, in informal as well as formal settings, where mobile language learners are increasingly using digital resources. In this paper, we focus on the emerging practices of students learning languages at a distance. Adult students of five languages at different levels were surveyed about using their mobile devices to support their learning as well as their motivations in doing so. We also draw on eight follow-up interviews. We discuss the learners’ preferred activities, the resources and apps that they use, and also their motivations for their mobile language practices. These distance learners are very aware of how their devices provide them with high exposure to their target language and the importance of such exposure. They also use their mobile devices to introduce variety into their learning and to make it enjoyable. This knowledge of self-directed learners’ practices is extremely valuable in informing educators about how mobile devices feature in language learning and can be harnessed in contributing to it.


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