By Mayra Yaranga.
Mobile phones are part of everyday life, and teachers can take advantage of their many features to help students improve their speaking skills, whether in or out of the classroom.
Mobiles can provide an effective resource in accuracy-based speaking activities. For instance, they can be used to practice different pronunciation features by having students record themselves shadowing an audio recording. Later, the recordings can be shared through WhatsApp for feedback from the teacher.
As for fluency work, m-learning can become a very useful ally for teachers. First of all, it can supply the lack of background information that students may need for a speaking activity such as a talk or a debate. Preparation time for such activities could include some kind of webquest* with the help of students’ phones. The fact that nowadays people store photographs and videos in their mobiles can give them immediate access to these materials in class, so that any speaking activity (a talk or conversation) set by teachers can gain from the visual stimuli stored in the phones. Tasks which involve students reporting current or personal events can also be recorded and shared, and students can add comments if a common WhatsApp group is created by them. This provides a sense of describing real things, real people, and using real communication.
In conclusion, it is sound to regard mobile phones as useful tools to develop speaking skills, provided that this is done responsibly and with effective monitoring to avoid any distractions from our actual goals.
*WebQuests are activities, using Internet resources, which encourage students to use higher order thinking skills to solve a real confusing problem. WebQuests are a sub-set of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). (http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/whatis_awq.asp)
Now it’s YOUR turn
Have you ever used mobile phones in class to develop speaking skills? If so, what were the results?
Azabdaftari, B.; Mozaheb, M. (2012). Comparing Vocabulary Learning of EFL Learners by Using Two Different Strategies: Mobile Learning vs. Flashcards. The EUROCALL Review, v20 n2 p47-59
Jung, H. (2015). Fostering an English Teaching Environment: Factors Influencing English as a Foreign Language Teachers' Adoption of Mobile Learning. Informatics in Education, v14 n2 p219-241
Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ; she holds a Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London) revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada from IPNM. Currently she works as IELTS trainer, Cambridge Oral Examiner and Member of the Research Area for Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacifico. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ. She has published papers in the fields of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies.