iPadding Sixth Graders to Impact Language Learning
An Empirical Mobile Study
This paper reports on an empirical study in mobile language learning,
with the purpose of exploring how mobile technology affects the
learning of a foreign language.
Mobile devices possess fundamental properties, such as portability,
individuality, interactivity and connectivity, that are essential to
language learning, in that they enhance exposure and noticing,
promote interaction and calibrate corrective feedback.
The mobile device adopted for this study is the iPad, which can fulfill
the functions of a computer with the additional plus of being
lightweight and therefore easily portable. It has a wide high-resolution
touch screen, which enhances input as well as learners’ attention,
making them focus on key language features and raising their
awareness. Furthermore, the iPad is compatible with the most recent
applications for the development of interactive skills.
The author investigated the impact of iPad on a class of sixth graders
in their first year of learning Italian and compared their learning to a
non-iPadded class over two years’ time, first in sixth grade and then in
seventh grade. Results show that, thanks to mobile technology, the
iPadded sixth graders generally progressed better than the noniPadded
sixth graders, but, remarkably, even better than the noniPadded
seventh graders in oral interactive tasks.