Many modern language teachers have heard of mobile learning and yet they are hesitant to try it. Here are some common myths.
1) I need tons of mobile learning professional development. Traditionally, professional development focused on learning the technology. If you have a smartphone or tablet and can do the basic functions, you have enough of your own professional development to start using mobile learning in your class. If you do not have a mobile device, take 2-3 minutes of class to ask your students what app they would use to do a certain task such as audio recording or creating a video. Students are the expert in the use of the mobile devices; we just have to harness those uses for modern languages.
2) I do not have a curriculum for mobile learning. Mobile learning is only a tool to help you in the modern language classroom so the only curriculum you need is your modern language one. Once you know what language learning task you want, you can have the students help you find an appropriate app for it.
3) Every student does not have a mobile device so I cannot do mobile learning in my modern language class. Have students work in pairs or in groups of three so that at least one person has a mobile device.
4) I do not have the money to purchase apps for my students. Many common apps such as video recording apps are free. Only use the free version of the apps. You can do a year’s worth of activities without having to purchase any paid apps.
5) I do not have a 1,000 apps like another modern teacher has. Mobile learning is not about collecting a multitude of apps; it is about helping your students to improving in their language skills. You can do a whole year’s worth of mobile learning with a few common tools natively found on the mobile device such as picture taking, audio recording, and video recording. Instead of having your student learn many different apps, find a few apps like video recording app that can be used for many different things such as interviews, telling a story, making a movie about an event, etc.
6) I do not have the time to find drill and practice apps. Save your time and focus on developing your students’ speaking communication through the common mobile tool apps. They can take a picture of a friend or family member and describe that person to their partner.
7) I already have too much to do so I cannot do mobile learning. Mobile learning replaces many classroom activities. Instead of students looking at one textbook picture of a city in your target language, they can do a quick google image search on their mobile device for the city and see many diverse images of the city. The students probably can find a google image quicker on a mobile device than they can open the textbook to the right page. Mobile learning with QR (quick response) codes can take students instantly to a video, sound file, web page, or picture.
8) I have no way to collect what they do on their mobile device If the students have taken a picture, done an audio recording, done a video recording, etc, they can email it to you. Students do the task, click on a share icon and email it to you as an attachment. Students can show you their picture or even project it for the whole class using a document camera.
9) I do not know where to start so I won’t start. Start simple with students talking about family or friend pictures on their mobile devices. You can do many diverse speaking activities based on pictures on their devices or pictures you ask them to take such as of their living room.
When will you start to use mobile learning for more language communication in your class?
My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.
I have developed 5 Visual activities/games for any modern language (no words) and have developed 27 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle
My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at http://bit.ly/tuttlebks