Mobile Learning Modules for Language Learning

This section provides a background on the four mobile learning modules developed by the Open University of Hong Kong for enhancing language efficiency of students. The functional components of these language modules are described, with a highlight on the design features. In 2011, the Open University of Hong Kong successfully secured a grant from the Government for developing four mobile learning modules for enhancing the language proficiency of students [14].

Primarily targeted for the first-year students of the University, these languages modules are in the areas of English for communication, the use of Chinese and English, and the command of Putonghua, as highlighted below.

  • English for Effective Communication. This module aims to enhance the students’ understanding of advanced level grammar rules and sentence structures, and provide practice to improve their listening and writing skills for effective communication in English.
  • Business Communication for Executives. This module aims to develop the students’ basic and advanced level Business English. Practical workplace topics are included to prepare students for their careers, such as handling electronic mails, preparing meeting notes, writing proposals and giving presentations.
  • Use of Chinese. This module aims to sharpen the students’ reading and writing skills in formal Chinese language. Some advanced level syntax and idioms are also covered in the module to improve sentence composition and reading comprehension.
  • Use of Putonghua. This module aims to enhance students’ understanding of advanced sentence structures and vocabulary in Putonghua. Scenario-based content is included for effective communication in travel, dining, job interview and shopping. The mobile learning modules are presented in e-book format, readily readable in Apple devices such as iPhone and iPad. They can be downloaded through the Apple iTunesU [15].

The modules use context-based contents and adopt an interactive approach to learning languages. Multimedia materials are incorporated to enrich the students’ learning experience. Intended for mobile learning, students can study at their own pace without time and space constraints. The modules encourage collaborative learning among students.

A virtual environment (including an online discussion forum and an online platform for interactive communications among teachers and students) conducive to collaborative learning and group learning is provided to enhance the students’ learning efficiency. The design features of these modules are summarized as follows.

  • Use of context-based contents, together with multimedia, animations and graphical elements;
  • Provision of interactive and game-based learning activities, and recording exercise and interaction summary;
  • Continuous assessments for monitoring learning progress;
  • Provision of a discussion forum for students to discuss and share useful learning experience.