Business English Learning with mobile phones

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download


Business English Learning with mobile phones


<ul><li><p>46 International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 46-63, April-June 2014</p><p>Copyright 2014, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.</p><p>ABSTRACT</p><p>The purpose of this study was to explore whether the use of mobile technology could better enhance students business English vocabulary learning than the employment of traditional print material. A group of sophomores (N=43) from a Chinese university in North China were randomly assigned to two groups: the experimental group (N=23), who worked on a given list of business vocabulary via SMS, and the control group (N=20), who studied the same list of vocabulary via paper print material. The results of the posttest reveal that the experimental group did significantly better than the control group. However, the results of the delayed test show that the two groups were not significantly different from each other in term of vocabulary retention rates. The study concludes that a blended use of mobile technology such as SMS and paper print material could better give rise to students business English vocabulary learning. The limitations and suggestions for future research are also discussed.</p><p>Business English Vocabulary Learning With Mobile Phone:</p><p>A Chinese Students PerspectiveHaisen Zhang, School of International Studies, University of International Business and </p><p>Economics, Beijing, China</p><p>Wei Song, School of Finance, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China</p><p>Ronghuai Huang, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China</p><p>Keywords: Business English, Mobile phones, SMS, Testing, Vocabulary learning</p><p>1. INTRODUCTION</p><p>The number of mobile phones in China exceeded the number of landlines in 2004 (BBC News, 2004). China boasts both the largest mobile phone users and the near-ubiquitous SMS users in the world, with the number of mobile phones hitting 680 million by the end of May 2009 (Shen &amp; Feng, 2009) and the number of SMS messages reaching 195.89 billion by the end of November 2009 (Feng, 2009). With such near-ubiquitous market penetration, media providers </p><p>and learning technology solution providers push the ride of learners mobile technology adoption for a novel way of learning. Mobile learning in China is also beginning to gain ground. People who travel on the subway train, on the bus, or in the air are often found reading e-books and daily mobile news delivered by China Mobile as well as watching movies and listening to aural materials on their mobile devices. For the younger generation, especially the digital natives, mobile devices such as mobile phones have become something within their reach on </p><p>DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2014040104</p></li><li><p>Copyright 2014, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.</p><p>International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 46-63, April-June 2014 47</p><p>a daily basis. These devices have become part of their everyday life and a thing that they live with 24 hours around the clock.</p><p>Moreover, the number of English lan-guage learners in Chinas formal education system reached 175 million in 2007 and it is estimated that the number will amount to 2 billion by 2010 (Adams &amp; Hirsch, 2007). So far in China, there are more than 400 million people who are learning the language (Zhan, Sun, Yao, Li, Meng, Duan, et al., 2010). Ap-parently, China has become the largest country in terms of the substantial number of English language learners in mainstream educational institutions. The learners range from students at elementary schools to those at universities. It has become a phenomenon that Chinese foreign language learners use their mobile devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs, MP4 players, etc. not only as a tool for communication and for entertainment like game playing but also as one for language learning. Specifically, these devices are employed to improve their English reading and vocabulary building by reading English news on the phone and to enhance their listening skills by watching movie clips and listening to digital media in English while they are on the go. However, the field of inquiry on mobile language learning still remains a burgeoning area of research. Although there has been research on how mobile devices can be utilized to enhance vocabulary learning (e.g., Lu, 2008), there is relatively little literature on whether and how such devices can be better pedagogically utilized to enhance business English vocabulary learning in the Chinese context of foreign language learning.</p><p>The goal of this study was to examine the effectiveness of technology-based (SMS) and traditionally paper-based business English vocabulary learning, in the hope of informing the existing body of related literature as well as offering pedagogical implications for practitio-ners in the field of mobile language learning. To better fulfill this research goal, the following questions were addressed to guide this inquiry:</p><p>1. Is technology-based business English vocabulary learning more effective than traditional paper-based learning?</p><p>2. How is the effectiveness of technology-based learning related to students meta-cognitive strategies in terms of time man-agement, effort regulation, and monitoring?</p><p>3. What are the students perceived advan-tages and disadvantages of learning with the mobile technology?</p><p>2. LITERATURE REVIEW</p><p>2.1. Business English Vocabulary</p><p>Vocabulary is the words we know and use to communicate with others (Diller, 2007, p. 140). Generally speaking, there are two kinds of vocabulary: oral and written. Oral vocabu-lary is comprised of speaking and listening vocabulary while written vocabulary consists of reading and writing vocabulary (p. 140). Such a classification is made mainly based on where vocabulary appears, namely, orally or in print. When we look at it from the point of view of areas of specialization, vocabulary can be also classified into the other two categories: general vocabulary and specialist vocabulary.</p><p>General vocabulary refers to words that are common to a wide range of academic texts and are not as common in nonacademic texts (Scarcella &amp; Zimmerman, 2005, p. 126). In contrast, specialist vocabulary is an umbrella term, which refers to language or words that are specifically used in a specific profession or field of industry for formal communication, such as in banking, trade, finance, management, law, marketing, medicine, telecommunication, etc., just to name a few. It is one of the main dif-ferences between teaching English for General Purposes and English for Specific Purposes (IMO, 2000, p. 87) owing to its specific nature of the same word, which takes different mean-ings in different fields or professions.</p><p>In English for business purposes/busi-ness English (Dudley-Evans &amp; John, 1998), specialist vocabulary is referred to as business </p></li><li><p>Copyright 2014, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.</p><p>48 International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 46-63, April-June 2014</p><p>vocabulary or business English vocabulary, which is often seen as an integral part of busi-ness English (Osborne, p. 106). It is composed of words used more commonly in business than elsewhere. The words so used are the common property of the English language (Aurner, 1950, p. 152). Business English vocabulary is identical with general English vocabulary in terms of form. However, with regard to meaning, they are vastly different because the former is used in particular kinds of communication in a specific context (Ellis &amp; Johnson, 1994, p. 3) while the later in a daily non-business com-munication context. Both kinds of vocabulary are spelled and pronounced the same way, but they mean differently. For instance, the word quotation in a general English context means something that is quoted (Random House, 2009). In business or commerce, it means the statement of the current or market price of a commodity or security (Random House, 2009). Another example is market share. Market and share are two different words in general English. However, when these two words go together in a business context, they become a business vocabulary word, which refers to the specific percentage of total industry sales of a particular product achieved by a single company in a given period of time (Random House, 2009).</p><p>2.2. The Role of Mobile Technologies in Language Learning</p><p>Mobile learning has been believed to be the future of learning (Keegan, 2002). It can benefit not only the underprivileged learners outside of the formal educational system but also those who are lucky to be able to learn in formal educational environments. Mobile technologies enable both types of learners to learn at any time and in any location, especially, when they are on the move. Moreover, these emerging technologies can extend classroom-based learning beyond the four physical walls and make learning take place on learners own appropriate time, in their </p><p>own preferred location, at their own pace, and for their own learning purposes.</p><p>The value of mobile technologies in lan-guage teaching and learning has been recog-nized by many researchers (e.g., Bibby, 2011; Chinnery, 2006; Nah, White, &amp; Sussex, 2008; Saricaa &amp; Cavus, 2009; Shih, 2005; Sweeney &amp; Moore, 2012; Zhao, 2005). According to Chin-nery (2006), mobile devices are less expensive than computers and, therefore, affordable for most learners. Also, they are of a pocket size, which makes it portable and convenient for learners. Such affordability, portability and convenience (Song, 2008) enable learners to take advantage of segmented times for them to learn anytime and anywhere. Nah, White, and Sussex (2008) made an investigation into the use of mobile phone for listening learning in the Korean context. They argue that such applica-tions are conducive to student learning due to the students positive attitudes toward learning tasks and their capability of continuing to learn anytime and anywhere beyond the classroom setting. Such a technology affords the students for collaborative problem solving thanks to the availability of the technology features of mobility and easy accessibility.</p><p>Moreover, educational affordances of mobile technologies have also attracted the attention of both researchers and educators. First, ownership (Jone, Issroff &amp; Scanlon, 2006) gives learners a sense of a personal belonging of the device and allows them to use it in an exhaustive manner. In other words, ownership allows learners to use it in whatever way they like to and eventually lends itself to an effective adoption of such technology in their learning. Second, the affordances of portability, social interactivity, context sensitivity, connectivity and individuality, as identified by Klopfer, Squire, and Jenkins (2002), not only extend learners temporal and spatial boundaries of learning but also make learning more effective outside of the classroom setting. Portability enables learners to be easily accessible to the technology in their hands or pockets, which can lead to the effective use of fragmented times for learning. Connectivity and social </p></li><li><p>Copyright 2014, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.</p><p>International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 46-63, April-June 2014 49</p><p>interactivity can offer more opportunities for learner collaboration through information shar-ing and problem solving. Context sensitivity can help engage learners in situated learning and individuality allows for individualized and self-paced learning. Lai, Yang, Chen, Ho and Chan (2007) identified two other educational affordances of mobile technologies that can facilitate experiential learning: delivery and multimedia creation. Mobile technologies can deliver real-time information, which is spe-cially needed by learners. Such an affordance is important for collaboration and learning flow. Multimedia creation, such as photo taking as well as sound and video recording, serve[s] to aid in retention when [learners are] out of the learning environment (p. 328).</p><p>2.3. Meta-Cognitive Strategies and Vocabulary Learning</p><p>Metacognitive strategies refer to higher order executive skills that may entail planning for, monitoring, or evaluating the success of a learn-ing activity (OMalley &amp; Chamot, 1990, p. 44). They involve such processes as planning, prioritizing, setting goals and self-management (Williams &amp; Burden, 1997, p. 150) and a conscious overview of the learning process and making decisions about planning, monitoring, or evaluating the best ways to study (p. 205). These strategies are used to oversee, regulate or self-direct language learning (p. 150) and to monitor and adjust the way we process information (Bromley, 2002, p. 13).</p><p>Metacognitive strategies are crucially im-portant for vocabulary learning. Even though there has been no the so-called best strategy identified for vocabulary learning thus far (Gu &amp; Johnson, 1996), the application of metacogni-tive strategies can make a difference in terms of vocabulary learning outcomes (Nacera, 2010). According to Nacera (2010), the frequency of metacognitive strategies use can determine the differences in learners vocabulary size, the finding of which is also supported by elik and Topta (2010) study, revealing that learners with a larger vocabulary size tend to use more </p><p>of metacognitive strategies than those with a smaller vocabulary size. Rasekh and Ranjbarys (2003) study of metacognitive strategies use in vocabulary learning also revealed that the group with metacgnitive strategy training outperformed the control group without the training in a vocabulary achievement test. Cubukcu (2008) also evidenced that metacog-nitive strategies can lend support to learners vocabulary development. Craik and Lockhart (1972) found that when learners have more of the metacognitive processes involved in the learning of a word, they tend to have higher retention and recall rates.</p><p>2.4. Effectiveness of Vocabulary Learning via Mobile Phones</p><p>Vocabulary learning for foreign language learn-ers basically involves learning of both form and meaning of a word. The form refers to pronunciation, spelling, the part of speech, and collocation while the meaning refers to mean-ings of a word in a learners native language in a given linguistic context. Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of studies (e.g., Levy &amp; Kennedy, 2005; Lu, 2008; Song, 2008; Thornton &amp; Houser, 2005; Zhang, Song, &amp; Burston, 2011) that have specifically focused on the use of mobile phones to enhance vocabulary learning. For example, Baolu and Akdemir (2010) conducted a comparative study of vocabulary learning with mobile phones and with paper flashcards. The experimental group us...</p></li></ul>


View more >