SA Journal of Education, Vol 35, No 4 (2015)

Exploring the extent to which ELT students utilise smartphones for language learning purposes

İsmail Yaman, Müfit Şenel, Deren Başak Akman Yeşilel


The advent of smartphones has had dramatic influences on our daily lives and has rendered human beings ‘walking
computers’. This holds important reflections in the realm of language learning, as well as in many other areas. This study
aimed to explore the extent to which English Language Teaching (ELT) students utilise smartphones for language learning
purposes. To this end, a 25-item questionnaire was administered to 120 Grade Three and Four ELT students at Ondokuz
Mayıs University in Turkey. Following the questionnaire, a follow-up oral interview was conducted with 29 of the participants on a voluntary basis in order to further investigate their perceptions of smartphones. The statistical analysis of
the participants’ responses to the items in the questionnaire clearly shows that smartphones are actively used for language
learning purposes. In particular, their contribution to the development of vocabulary skills is frequently reported, which is
also verified by the answers given during the interview. The analysis regarding the ‘gender’ and ‘length of the students’
possession of a smartphone’ variables does not yield any statistically significant effect on the degree to which students utilise
smartphones for language learning purposes. Given the fact that almost all students have a personal smartphone, and use it
very often, and considering the findings of this study, it is suggested that students be encouraged to utilise the invaluable
language learning opportunities offered by smartphones when put to conscious use.


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