Learning English Speaking through Mobile-Based Role-Plays: The Exploration of a Mobile English Language Learning App called Engage

Bowen Yang, Shijun Zhou, Weijie Ju

Abstract

Engage is a new form of mobile application that connects students studying English with teachers in real-time via their smartphones. Students receive target language through preparation dialogues, and then apply it to a role-play with a teacher. The conceptualization and development of Engage follows the user-centred design approach; and the product was built through multiple iterations: in the first iteration, students were invited to try out a paper mock-up; in the second iteration, students tried out a mobile prototype; in the external test, a fully functional application was released to App Store between October 25 and November 20, 2012, and 326 users downloaded it. The application was well-received by these test users, reflected in the post-study survey, student ratings, and students’ usage records. The external tests proved that the technical environment of the application was feasible for production; and the operationalization of the teacher service and cost model were also proven to be feasible and scalable.

Keywords

Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL); user-centred design; role-play

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