Friday, March 10, 2017

Are Mobile Phones Good or Bad for English Language Learning?

What is the most important thing that you cannot leave behind? Probably, you are one of the people who will say that mobile phones are their most valuable companion. Without them, life is dull.

According to the Time Mobility Poll, 84% of people worldwide cannot function effectively without their phones. This survey is conducted in eight countries (U.S., UK, China, India, South Korea, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil), with nearly 5,000 participants from all age groups and income levels. Meanwhile, a study by SecurEnvoy reveals that almost 66% of people are affected by nomophobia or the “fear of being without their phones.”

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True enough, it is evident how mobile phones are gradually taking over people’s life. When you wake up in the morning, you reach for your phone to check the time. During the day, you browse social media apps to look for updates, read the news and connect with friends.

If you are enrolled in an IELTS review center, you may be one of those who use his/her phone to look for training materials online. Or you might be aspiring to study abroad but you are new in the city, so you use your phone to search for the nearest and most affordable IELTS review center in Makati.

When the night comes, you still check your phone before sleeping, telling yourself, “Just one more minute.  I only need to check my e-mails and see what’s up with the Oscars.” No wonder you are becoming dependent  to your mobile phone.

When did mobile phones begin to take over people’s life?

History reveals that the Swedish police used the first official mobile phone in 1946. While in April 1973, Martin Cooper marked the first cell phone call in history. Mobile phones evolved from keypads to touchscreens. Now, they serve multiple purposes from messaging, taking and editing photos, gaming and even for learning. Using mobile phones are now integrated into the students’ learning process. Some schools use educational websites and applications such as Edmodo and Moodle in expanding their discussion outside the classroom.

However, since mobile phones are gradually taking over the learning process, queries arise whether they have good or bad effects. If you want to study or work in an English-speaking country, aside from enrolling in an IELTS review center, you may also opt to download apps or search for training materials online to help you know more about the English language. In some instances, instructors in an IELTS review center in Makati might recommend using apps such as IELTS Skills, IELTS Word Power and IELTS Flashcards.

With the salience of using mobile phones as learning aids, how are they beneficial or harmful in learning the English language?

Advantages of using mobile phones in learning the English language

Some people find mobile phones as an effective tool in learning English. Here are some of its advantages:

•    Vocabulary – Built-in applications and features, such as camerass can be used to improve your understanding and use of the English language. For example, while walking along the street or reading magazines, you may encounter confusing words. The word may be new to you, or you find it hard to determine whether it is spelled correctly. You can use your phone's camera to take a picture of the word and search for it on the Internet.

•    World familiarity – If there are words discussed in your lecture that you often forget how to pronounce, you can use your phone's recorder to document  the word as to how your teacher pronounced it. Next time, you can listen to your recordings and practice on your own. Also, you can download a dictionary app.

•    Accessibility – One of the advantages of using a mobile phone in learning English is its accessibility. There are applications free for download that you can use to widen your English vocabulary, such as PowerVocab Word Game and Vocabulary Builder. There are also English dictionary apps available that you can download to check for the meaning of words that confuse you.

All applications that you need in studying and improving your vocabulary are just a swipe away through the help of mobile phones.

•    Reading comprehension – Training materials such as books and essays can be downloaded easily and accessed on the phone. There are built-in text readers that you can use to read these materials.

Disadvantages of using mobile phones in learning the English language

Though it is evident that mobile phones are beneficial to learning the English language, they also have disadvantages.

•    Credibility – Though mobile apps are readily accessible, the challenge is on discerning which of those are credible. The key here is to look for reviews and recommendations before downloading and patronizing apps. You can always search for the best and useful apps before downloading.

•    Correct usage and pronunciation – English-speaking countries have different ways of pronouncing and using words. For example, the word pants mean “denim” or “slacks” in the U.S., but in the UK, they mean “underwear.” It is always best to note which country you are eyeing for and study how it utilizes the language.

•    Distraction – Even though you are determined to learn, distractions in the form of games and social media apps are inevitable. Instead of focusing on how to improve your skills, you might end up chatting with your friends or playing. Remember that phones are like a double-edged sword. They can either distract you or keep you focused.

Research shows that distractions in English learning caused by mobile phones lower the performance of students in examinations.

•    Stress – Some students still find it hard to navigate their mobile phones. Sometimes, instead of helping you improve your English vocabulary, these devices end up causing stress, especially if you do not know how to use an application. If you think that using your phone and learning about it takes up too much time, you can always find another means of studying.

Are mobile phones good or bad in learning the English language? Just like any other device, they have pros and cons. However, you should always remember that mobile phones are just tools that can aid you in learning the English language. It still depends highly on your ability to understand and apply what you have learned.

  • Duerson, Meena Hart. "We’re addicted to our phones: 84% worldwide say they couldn’t go a single day without their mobile device in their hand." August 16, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • Gibbs, Nancy. "Your Life Is Fully Mobile." Time. August 16, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • Wrenn, Eddie. "The biggest phobia in the world? 'Nomophobia' - the fear of being without your mobile - affects 66 per cent of us." Daily Mail Online. May 08, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • Goodwin, Richard. "The History of Mobile Phones From 1973 To 2008: The Handsets That Made It ALL Happen." Know Your Mobile. November 16, 2016. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • "The History of Cell Phones." Tech-FAQ. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • Khan, Fahad. "15 Android Apps For IELTS, TOEFL & GRE Preparation." Hongkiat. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • "How students can use mobiles to learn English." British Council. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • Evans, Dan. "Best Android apps for improving vocabulary." Android Authority. August 17, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • "Advantages of mobile devices application in learning environment." Молодой. Accessed January 16, 2017.
  • "20 British Words That Mean Something Totally Different in the U.S." Bigstock Blog. Accessed January 16, 2017.

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