Mobile Assistance in Language Learning: A critical appraisal

Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2016). Mobile Assistance in Language Learning: A critical appraisal. In: Palalas, Agnieszka and Ally, Mohamed eds. The International Handbook of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning. Beijing: China Central Radio & TV University Press Co., Ltd., pp. 138–160.



Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) literature tends to focus on formal learning contexts, but in so doing, the research may overlook some of the rich variety of mobile language learning and rehearsal taking place in informal settings. Informal uses of personal technologies call for a deeper examination of the notion of assistance, which may be built into mobile systems, environments and application designs and also provided by many different people. The chapter reviews relevant literature relating to mobile assistance with special consideration of individual learner requirements and the important challenge of supporting informal learning among migrants. The author considers how the notion of assistance may be extended so that learners not only benefit from assistance but they are also empowered to help themselves and others. A classification of assistance for mobile language learning and communication support is proposed. The idea that a handheld device can offer ‘personal assistance’ to its user has been around a long time, but technology advancements and more mobile lives introduce new perspectives. Mobile learning researchers, designers, practitioners and others must consider not only mobility of technology but also many other mobilities which include the dynamic nature of human communication and language development. As advanced societies appear to be on the cusp of a new era of ‘intelligent assistants’ and ‘social robots’, the pressing need to revisit the notion of assistance and explore its multifaceted nature in informal and out-of-class language learning is very apparent.

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