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Mobile pedagogy for English language teaching: a guide for teachers

Hi all,

Here is an interesting resource on using mobile technology in teaching English.  How are ESOL teachers using mobile devices with students?

Submitted by ellenpd on 11 February, 2015 - 11:03

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Lucy Norris and Jim Donohue

"This guide is for anyone interested in teaching and learning languages, and thinking about teaching practices. It sets out a philosophy and proposes a frame of reference to aid teacher-thinking when designing mobile language learning in and beyond the classroom, informed by research conducted with teachers and learners in ESOL and EAP contexts.

The ideas within highlight the use of activities which exploit a dynamic language and technology environment while drawing on teacher wisdom and the distinctive capabilities of both teachers and their learners.

This publication is free to download in pdf format."




Miriamb3's picture
One hundred

Thanks for posting this, Nell.  I downloaded the pdf and found some interesting resources, not the least of which was a link to a utube where a young  man spoke in couplets for about 4 minutes explaining why addiction to social media has the potential to block many (if not most) human interactions.  That in turn led me to a 15 minute comic film about a  young Australian man whose social media addiction has blurred the lines for him between digital and human interactions.

But I digress, I think.  My point initially was that Mobile pedagogy for English language teaching: a guide for teachers  and the utubes seemed to be geared to students with very high English skills..

I'm wondering how those of you who work with students whose English may not be so high use mobile devices in the classroom.  Stories or examples to share, anyone?

I  can start: Last week I was delivering a training to ABE and HSE instructors in Lake Charles, Louisiana. We were discussing the value of teaching word parts to help students increase their English vocabulary.  The example was "bicameral" as "In the United States, the legislature is bicameral."  Everyone knew that "bi" means two, but we were hard pressed to figure out how "cameral" was being used. A camera is a camera, right? It's not a house or a room. One of the participants quickly googled it and found this:

camera (n.) Look up camera at

1708, "vaulted building," from Latin camera "vaulted room" (source of Italian camera, Spanish camara, French chambre), from Greek kamara "vaulted chamber."
The word also was used early 18c. as a short form of Modern Latin camera obscura "dark chamber" (a black box with a lens that could project images of external objects), contrasted with camera lucida (Latin for "light chamber"), which uses prisms to produce on paper beneath the instrument an image, which can be traced. It became the word for "picture-taking device" when modern photography began, c.1840 (extended to television filming devices 1928). Camera-shy is attested from 1890. Old Church Slavonic komora, Lithuanian kamara, Old Irish camra all are borrowings from Latin.

We were still perplexed a  bit until another participant pointed out that in the early days of photography you did need to go into a dark room or curtained area to get your picture taken.

Anyway,using google, I realize, is pretty low tech, but when coupled with the class discussion, it did enrich the training.  What do some of the rest of you do digitally that enhances the instruction in your classroom?

Miriam Burt

SME, Adult ELL CoP

Glenda Rose's picture
One hundred

I loved this article too. Shared it of Facebook on TexTESOL III and my professional page.  (You know I like it when I post it twice!)

As far as mobile devices and lower level ESL, I've found that most of my students, if they have technology, have phones and tablets rather than computers, so we use it frequently.  One of my favorite things to do is PollEverywhere (  A while back, they added "word clouds" and "clusters," which makes it very easy to get responses from everyone.  What if they don't have a cell phone, you ask?  I just don't limit the response to "one per device" and they share with those who have unlimited texting plans (which is most of them, by the way).  They find it very interesting to see their answers pop up on the screen as they respond.

Cell phone scavenger hunts are always fun.  You should be able to access one of my favorites from Dropbox:  Students have to be IN the picture, so they have to ask, "Can I take a picture with you for a class assignment?"  I send them out in triads so they don't feel quite so nervous.  Then they come back and share and talk about the pictures they took. 

A lot of my students enjoy Duolingo and set up friendly competitions with each other.

The class version of USA Learns (meaning, if it is approved in your state, you can count the proxy hours) works on phones and tablets provided you have a FLASH browser (like Puffin or Dolphin) installed.

Create a class-created story using Twitter.  (The old "add a sentence" activity where each person has to add a sentence to the one just written.)

Remind is a great resource, too.

Google Drive works on mobile devices, meaning students can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real time.  (For more info on this, check out the great training available directly from Google Apps for Education:

Wow, I guess I'd better stop there.  All that to say, there are hundreds of great activities using mobile devices that can be used with lower level ESL students.


eslbecky3's picture

This is a great article with lots of practical classroom applications, thanks for sharing!  As the article mentions, when integrating technology into your classroom, it's really important to consider exactly what your learners have access to.  A few years ago as I started experimenting with mobile phones in the classroom, I noticed that my students had access to varying degrees of technology.  Some students had smart phones, some students had regular cell phones, and a few had no mobile devices at all.  I realized before I started planning for instruction that utilized technology, I needed to get a clearer picture of just exactly what we were working with.  I developed a technology survey that I used at the beginning of every semester.  From there I was able to better plan my instruction.  If I saw that I had 2 or 3 students with no access to technology, I was able to plan ahead and pair these students with a student who had an unlimited data plan or provide a different way for them to participate.  If I asked students to complete an assignment for homework, I was able to work with the students who didn't have access to technology outside of the classroom to develop an alternate plan.  If I saw that a lot of my students didn't have unlimited data plans, I was more aware of the frequency and duration of the mobile phone activities I used in class.  

The survey I created can be found here:  

Another useful and more thorough survey created by two colleagues of mine, Ben King and Leila Taaffe, can be used to assess access to technology, level of comfort and technology goals: 


Becky Shiring