A Review of Mobile Language Learning Applications: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Catherine Regina Heil, Jason S. Wu, Joey J. Lee, Torben Schmidt


Mobile language learning applications have the potential to transform the way languages are learned. This study examined the fifty most popular commercially-available language learning applications for mobile phones and evaluated them according to a wide range of criteria. Three major trends were found: first, apps tend to teach vocabulary in isolated units rather than in relevant contexts; second, apps minimally adapt to suit the skill sets of individual learners; and third, apps rarely offer explanatory corrective feedback to learners. Despite a pedagogical shift toward more communicative approaches to language learning, these apps are behaviorist in nature. To better align with Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and L2 pedagogical research, we recommend the incorporation of more contextualized language, adaptive technology, and explanatory feedback in these applications.


Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL); Communicative Language Teaching (CLT); adaptive learning; vocabulary instruction; grammar instruction; corrective feedback; assessment

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