ReCALL

Research Article

L'italiano al telefonino: Using SMS to support beginners' language learning1

Claire Kennedya1 and Mike Levya2

a1 School of Languages and Linguistics, Griffith University, Nathan QLD 4111, Australia (email: c.kennedy@griffith.edu.au)

a2 School of Languages and Linguistics, Griffith University, Nathan QLD 4111, Australia (email: michael.levy@griffith.edu.au)

Abstract

This article discusses an experiment in sending regular Short Message Service (SMS) messages to support language learning, and vocabulary learning in particular, at beginners' level in Italian at an Australian university. The approach we took built on the initiatives of Thornton and Houser (2005) and Dias (2002b), and was informed by the results of an earlier trial we had conducted with students at high-intermediate level (Levy & Kennedy, 2005). In testing the possibilities for using mobile phones for language learning purposes, we were especially interested in investigating the acceptability of a ‘push’ mode of operation, in which the scheduling of messages is determined by the teachers. While the students appreciated the experience overall, and found the message content often useful or enjoyable, there was a wide range of views on the frequency of messages acceptable. We are therefore planning the further integration of messaging into the course around a flexible arrangement involving options for high or low frequency of pushed messages, as well as messages available on request – in ‘pull’ mode.

Keywords

  • mobile phone;
  • mobile learning;
  • SMS;
  • Italian;
  • vocabulary;
  • pedagogy;
  • cell phone

Footnotes

1 ‘Italian on your mobile’. Telefonino is literally ‘little telephone’. Many Italians use cellulare and telefonino interchangeably.

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