Independent Mobile Learning of English: The Case of Saudi Female University Students

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University of Leeds
This thesis investigates the use of smartphones for independent language learning, focusing on the experiences of seven female university students in Saudi Arabia. It aims to understand how they use their smartphones for language learning and to identify the challenges they face. This was implemented through my proposed Independent Mobile Learning of English (IMLE) framework: This framework encompasses three phases: 1) planning; 2) management of learning activities; and 3) monitoring and evaluating learning processes and outcomes. This study employs a qualitative approach, where data were gathered from seven participants through semi-structured interviews. To enrich the dataset, additional media materials, such as screenshots and video clips illustrating their smartphone usage for language learning, were also gathered. MAXQDA software was used to analyse the data. Six key themes were identified to understand the IMLE experience across the three phases of the framework. Within the first two phases, planning and management of learning activities, there were four themes. First, learners incorporated English into their daily routines using various tools, such as social networking sites and films. Second, they identified the importance of choice in deciding on language partners for conversational practice across different social digital tools. Third, learners used a range of digital platform serving different needs. Fourth, they used translation tools to enhance their language competence and confidence. From the final phase of the IMLE framework, two themes emerged, which dealt with monitoring and evaluating learning outcomes as learners acknowledged challenges and reflected on solutions. First, learners recognised the importance of following their own interests in IMLE. Second, they reported the need for community support to make IMLE more effective. The findings of this study provide insights that will be valuable for educators and researchers who aim to create effective language-learning experiences tailored to learners’ needs in an increasingly digital world, as well as for learners interested in engaging in IMLE.
Independent Mobile Learning of English, MALL, Learner Autonomy