Entertaining mobile learning of foreign languages

Entertaining mobile learning of foreign languages

Abstract

This research paper presents and tests the hypothesis that entertaining visual content can have a positive effect on learners’ motivation and knowledge improvement when studying foreign vocabulary with a mobile device. A web-based prototype of a language learning application was built and an experiment with 18 participants who studied a set of about 60 Spanish words was conducted. The master thesis reviewed the research of leading authors in the fields of mobile learning, language learning motivation theory and memetics. The entertaining content used in the experiment consisted of humorous image memes, a part of contemporary online culture.

The treatment group participants, exposed to this content, spent voluntarily longer time learning with their smartphones than control group learners, who were exposed to images with neutral content, and stated directly that they felt more motivated to study. Entertaining content had a positive effect on learners’ executive motivation. Moreover, the perceived improvement of language skills of these learners was higher. The author argues that mobile learning with entertaining image memes is authentic, personalized and contextualized. One major implication of this research paper is that methods for stimulating learners’ extrinsic motivation in popular language learning applications (gamification approach) can be complemented by introducing humorous content to engage users on a more intrinsic level.

Author

Alexander Naydenov, 2015, Humboldt University Berlin

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