Essay on From Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)



Essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)


According to Chapelle, the phrase Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) was incorporated into language education in the early 1980s (Chapelle, 2001). CALL portrayed a field that was based immensely on programmed instruction, as well as, on the behaviorist premises of learning language, especially English as a second language. Since the early 1980s, Computer Assisted Language Learning has come a long way with a combination of technology and education theory driving the change in CALL. Notwithstanding, mobile learning is undergoing swift evolution. Today, mobile phones are capable of espousing discordant kinds of learning, including language learning. While computers are better than mobile phones in handling various types of information such as sound, visual and textual information, mobile phones are superior to computers in terms of portability. Thus, they can be easily used outside of the classroom, making students and tutors take advantage of their convenience for language learning, particularly English language. This paper explores the transition from Computer Assisted Language Learning to Mobile Assisted Language Learning.

CRITIQUE OF Call-essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)

Various scholars have studied Computer Assisted Language Learning and established definitions for this field. For instance, Beatty defines CALL as any process whereby a learner utilizes a computer and its applications to improve his or her language by encompassing a broad spectrum of current or updated technology and learning and teaching techniques (Beatty, 2003). While CALL is the most popular acronym for learning language via computers, other acronyms such as Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL) that emphasized the technology the computer provides instead of the computer itself and Web-enhanced Language Learning (WELL) that emphasized the Internet as a medium for instruction were also proposed. Nonetheless, in recent year, Other Mobile Devices (OMDs) such as eBooks and smartphones have enjoyed immense recognition when it comes to learning languages such as English as a second language. As such, the widespread utilization of such mobile devices has resulted in the acronym Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) which is distinct from Computer Assisted Language Learning in its utilization of personal, portable devices equipped with novel ways of learning, continuity and spontaneity of access across discordant contexts of language learning (Kukulska-Hulme and Shields, 2008). Nonetheless, while MALL takes note imbues a shift in boundaries from technology from laptops and computer desktops to mobile devices, its shares with Computer Assisted Language Learning an emphasis on the ideology of assisted language learning. The implication of this shared assisted language learning by both CALL and MALL is the emphasis on the value and role of normally a single or specified software programs in the learning and practicing of language.

In the context of education theory, several scholars such as Warschauer and Kern (2000) have evinced through their studies how Computer Assisted Language Learning transitioned from its early phrase into a cognitive concept that challenged students to reckon and solve problems. This was accompanied by a socio-cognitive concept that showed that learning could occur not just through reckoning, but also through negotiation and interaction with teachers and other students. This concept involved students communicating with each other through computers for language learning purposes. Thus, the socio-cognitive concept shifted the perception of a computer from a tutor to a medium. Notwithstanding, while Computer Assisted Language Learning cannot be divested from the education theory of social constructivism, such a theory is often derived from work outside the capability of CALL. The ability of Computer Assisted Language Learning to move from portraying current reckoning in educational theory remains to be seen, but Mobile Assisted Language Learning is the prospective point of departure.

MOBILE ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING (MALL)Essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)


Mobile Assisted Language Learning refers to the approach to language learning that is assisted or fostered through the utilization of handheld mobile devices. MALL is otherwise a subset of both Computer Assisted Language Learning and Mobile Learning (m-learning). The mobile devices used under MALL include:

  • Mobile phones/cell phones/smartphones
  • Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) such as Blackberry and Palm Pilot among others
  • MP3 or MP4 players

With mobile devices mentioned above, students are able to access language learning material and communicate with their teachers and fellow students at their convenience.

Need for Mobile Assisted Language Learning-essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)

Mobile phones are more than devices for transmitting information or communicating through voice calls. Some of the other data and multimedia features supported by mobile phones apart from voice calls include:

  • Photography, video and audio for playback of music and recorded messages.
  • Images and short messages.
  • Interactive games, as well as, access to information such as emails, PDFs, driving direction, dictionaries and language translation applications.

Mobile devices such as phones, PDAs and other handheld devices can be used by students everywhere for doing everything ranging from making short videos and short messages to voice calling, web surfing and listening to audio files. Apart from these communication and recreational benefits, mobile devices have increasingly grown toward becoming tools for language learning and education in general. The advent of the Internet made open and distance learning a means of effecting education from all parts of the world, making language learning as ubiquitous as possible.

Mobile Assisted Language Learning deals with the utilization of mobile technology in language learning. This means that students do not always have to study English as a second language via a computer or in a classroom. Students can now learn different languages using their mobile devices when they desire in any location in the world. Other properties of Mobile Assisted Language Learning that makes it ideal for language learning include: portability, social interactivity, context sensitivity, connectivity and individuality. This means that students can exchange data and collaborate with other learners through mobile devices, data on mobile devices can be collected and responded uniquely, students can connect to other mobile devices and activities can be customized for individual learners. Given the fact that learning English is contemplated as a main factor for professional success and a standard for being educated in many communities, provision of more convenient environment for individuals to learn English is one of the strategic educational objectives toward espousing differentiation of learning needs and improving students’ achievement. As such, the areas of Mobile Assisted Language Learning are diverse among which the rifest ones are listening, phonetics, vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension.

Listening Comprehension-essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)

Listening exercises are normally considered as the first stage in learning a second language such as English. The advent of sophisticated mobile phones in terms of technology has made it possible to design a mobile multimedia system for the purpose of learning listening skills via listening exercises. For instance, a multimedia materials website can be utilized to upload and maintain video materials, as well as, a set of multimedia English listening exercises on the mobile phone for the learners to repeat exercises in English listening in a universal learning environment. These multimedia English listening exercise systems have the capability of fostering learners’ English listening abilities to a large extent. Moreover, it is possible to formulate a platform whereby language learners can listen to a text a vocal service on their mobile phones which is often accompanied by a listening comprehension quiz based on the text.


A good language learning service in mobile phones should consist of speech facilities for relaying voice. With such facilities on their mobile phones, learners are able to download dictionaries with sound functions which they can utilize to learn the correct pronunciation of new or unfamiliar words necessary for meeting their learning needs. The mobile phones with multimedia functions give the learners the opportunity to record their own voices which educators can use to make better assessments of the students’ weaknesses in pronunciation. Through such strategies and facilities that have function like dictionaries for looking up new words and their correct phonetic forms, the speaking skills and pronunciation of words by learners can be improved.

Learning Vocabulary Essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)

The types of activities that focus on vocabulary learning through mobile phones are discordant from one study project to another due to the diverse levels of language proficiency of the learners. A common way of learning new vocabulary based on the lessons learned in the classroom is sending emails or text messages. Apart from sending SMS, short mini-lesions for learning vocabulary can be sent through emails to mobile phones of students countless times. Moreover, learners can be provided with some vocabulary practices designed from the activities performed in the classroom. The students are then asked to complete the tasks on their mobile phones and send them back to their instructors. The process of learning vocabulary through mobile phones can also be accompanied by the pictorial annotations evinced on the mobile devices of the learners for better discernment of novel words (Chen and Hsu, 2008).

Learning Grammar

Through specifically designed programs on mobile devices, grammatical points can be learned through the grammatical rules and multiple choice activities incorporated in these programs. A good example of a grammatical exercise is ‘fill-in the blanks’ or ‘true-false’ which the learners can respond to and later obtain grammatical answers or explanations via short message service or vocal service.

Reading Comprehension-essay on From Computer Assisted Language  Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)

According to Chen and Hsu, reading practices aid learners in improving their vocabulary; in turn, the vocabulary knowledge helps in enhancing the learners’ reading comprehension (Chen and Hsu, 2008). Through well-designed learning courses installed on the mobile devices or through text messages sent to learners, reading activities can be offered to learners. The learners are also provided with reading text functions to assess their reading comprehension skills. It is imperative to note that mobile learning programs in which reading functions are accompanied by text announcer pronunciation are helpful in promoting both listening comprehension and reading comprehension.


Computer Assisted Language Learning remains salient to the extent that they will still be a critical part of language learning by students on their laptops and computers. This is because computers and laptops are still preferred tools for language learning. Nonetheless, as seen in this paper, there is a need for a more comprehensive view of language learning. It is this comprehensive approach to language learning that Mobile Assisted Language Learning provides. With merits such as portability, social interactivity, context sensitivity, connectivity and individuality, Mobile Assisted Language Learning provides a comprehensive approach language learning through improvement of listening, phonetics, vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension. Despite the fact that going through language learning activities on mobile phones may take a longer tome compared to computers, students and educators feel a greater sense of freedom of place and time. Thus, they can take advantage of the spare time to learn a second language at any given place or time.


Works Cited

Beatty, K. (2003). Teaching and researching computer assisted language learning. London: Longman.

Chapelle, C. (2001). Computer applications in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chen, C., & Hsu, S. (2008). Personalized Intelligent Mobile Learning System for Supporting Effective English Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 153-180.

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2009). Will mobile learning change language learning?. Recall, 21(02), 157.

Warschauer, M., & Kern, R. (2000). Network-based language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.