Using mobile phones in English education in Japan


Patricia Thornton, Kinjo Gakuin University, Japan.


Abstract We present three studies in mobile learning.

First, we polled 333 Japanese university students regarding their use of mobile devices. One hundred percent reported owning a mobile phone. Ninety-nine percent send e-mail on their mobile phones, exchanging some 200 e-mail messages each week. Sixty-six percent e-mail peers about classes; 44% e-mail for studying. In contrast, only 43% e-mail on PCs, exchanging an average of only two messages per week. Only 20% had used a personal digital assistant.

Second, we e-mailed 100-word English vocabulary lessons at timed intervals to the mobile phones of 44 Japanese university students, hoping to promote regular study. Compared with students urged to regularly study identical materials on paper or Web, students receiving mobile e-mail learned more (P<0.05). Seventy-one percent of the subjects preferred receiving these lessons on mobile phones rather than PCs. Ninety-three percent felt this a valuable teaching method.

Third, we created a Web site explaining English idioms. Student-produced animation shows each idiom's literal meaning; a video shows the idiomatic meaning. Textual materials include an explanation, script, and quiz. Thirty-one Japanese college sophomores evaluated the site using video-capable mobile phones, finding few technical difficulties, and rating highly its educational effectiveness.