Friday, January 23, 2015

Effects of R&D in mobile apps as tools to teach vocabulary

With development of applications for different platforms including iPhone, Blackberry, Android etc, mobile app gadgets have taken billions in terms of revenue in online market via app stores (Davis 2010). With excessive processing power in the cell phones, they have become as powerful as desktop computers in many features (Davis 2010) and as far as enhancing educational and teaching facilities goes, they are as much help as fully development computer software (Davis 2010). Development of platform oriented mobile applications that are basically intended for sale as well as increasing the market value of the targeted mobile platforms can be of significant use in vocabulary teaching. Mobile applications for the purpose of teaching vocabulary cover Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish in addition to English (Davis 2010). A technique called ‘enhanced podcast’ is one of the many techniques that have found their way into the market for vocabulary based teaching applications; this one uses a series of digital flashcards to display vocabulary and help to learn (Davis 2010).

In order to have a quantitative oversight for measuring the effect of mobile apps qualitatively, a review of the literature also reveals that the e-learning market’s growth has been 60% every year whereas the mobile applications specifically have increased by 65% (Subramanian 2013). That being said, schools are said to have been adapting various mobile applications and gadgets that help the students learn better. Qualitatively analysing this factor, for those who take up English language as a non native second language from their childhood might also be fairly categorized as non English students that will be affected by these applications as a part of this research. Taking India as an example where the non English speaking students are taught in English as a medium, english vocabulary is an essential part of learning. Students there benefit from usage of mobile applications to supplement their learning with the trend increasing at school administration level (Subramanian 2013). It can safely be assumed that learning of English language at schools in non english speaking countries (and hence for non english students) is having a positive effect by the use of mobile applications. This also implies that the students who quit schools in favour of home schooling also benefit from this technological development (Subramanian 2013). The same apps that were once used for listening to music and other leisure activities are now also dedicated to making available opportunities of mobile learning of vocabulary, spelling, alphabet, numbers etc; this kind of technology has also been found to have more appropriate effect on children (Krishna 2012). This has inspired various methodologies and teaching styles to find their way into the e-learning including letter songs (Computer Weekly News 2011).

On the other hand, students who are taking competitive exams either for higher education admission purposes or otherwise are also among the ones that are supplemented by mobile application usage. GRE exams, for example, use mobile apps like GRE vocabulary flashcards and quick reference applications to aid the students to the full. Such applications are often available for download from app stores such as iTunes (Subramanian 2013). Additionally, A GMAT tool kit as available for free on Google Play for android and provides high quality content (Subramanian 2013). High and low priced mobile applications have found business in the field of e-learning as a developing sector and target market (Mint 2010). Vocabulary builder applications have found place on the mobile screens on par with e-books, flashcard games and speaking notepads (Mint 2010). With the ability of mobile applications of synchronizing to desktop or laptop computers (Mint 2010), the learning based on mobile application also has chances of finding an over all integration with the computerized and automated learning structure. Such integration can also be taken as a qualitative learning effect by the facts that social media and social networking has firmly entrenched learning and vocabulary of computer users even at a young age (Loertscher 2011).

Specific and trademarked mobile applications such as ‘Pocket Vocabulary Coach’ are specifically designed to expose students to competitive vocabulary so as to prepare them for tests like ACT and SAT, college level words, and new unusual words for the sole purpose of improving communication skills (Finley 2012). SAT tests and the likes which are often given by non english students find such applications a pure quality oriented learning of english vocabulary (Finley 2012). ‘Pocket Vocabulary Coach’, in specific, focuses on sophisticated grammar learning and sophisticated vocabulary build up in addition to the above mentioned targeted learning (Finley 2012).


Davis, Carolyn (February 7, 2010). Apple opened bonanza for app developers. Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Periodical.

Subramanian, Aishhwariya (March 5, 2013). City schools take the online route for imparting education: According to latest estimates, e-learning market is growing 60% per year, says founder of an internet-based learning portal. DNA : Daily News & Analysis. Periodical.

Krishna, R (February 19, 2012). Why kids prefer the real deal. DNA. Sunday. Periodical.

(April 14, 2011). Early Learning Academy Releases First Original Album, The Letter Songs A to Z Now Available on iTunes. Computer Weekly News. Periodical.

(August 24, 2010). Different tools, different abilities. Mint. Periodical.

Loertscher, David (April 2011). The State and Futures of Educational Technologies. Teacher Librarian, Vol. 38, No. 4. Periodical.

Finley, Sally (November/December 2012). Pocket Literacy Coach. Internet@Schools, Vol. 19, No. 5. Periodical.

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