Can Smartphones Pave the Path towards EFL Competence for Saudi College Students?

Mahgoub Dafalla Ahmed


The study reported here focuses on how modern technology, specifically smartphones can pave the path towards English as a foreign language (EFL) competence. It emphasizes on how smartphones can enhance EFL learning where the focus is mainly on the acquired linguistic knowledge and language skills. It sheds light on language competence in more general terms and learners' vocabulary acquisition, listening, speaking, reading and writing, in particular. The sample for the study was drawn from Saudi college students at the faculty of Science and Arts, Khulais Branch at King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. After conducting an Entry Level English language Test, 50 students from the preparatory year were selected. Then, they were split into two homogenous groups. The first group (control group) was instructed in the conventional way, while the second group (experimental group) was offered instruction and encouraged to learn through smartphones. Results showed that the participants who received treatment (experimental group) significantly outperformed than the other group. It revealed that employing smartphones yielded a positive result. Additionally, results showed that students in the experimental group who used smartphones were more enthusiastic and driven than their counterparts in the control group who were still stuck in paper-text materials.

Full Text:



Alexander, B. (2006). A new way of innovation for teaching and learning. Educause Review, 41(2), 32-44.

Al-Seghayer, K. (2007). The role of organizational devices in readers' construction of mental representations of hypertext content. CALICO Journal, 24, 531-559.

Al-Shehri, S. (2011). Context in our Pockets: Mobile Phones and Social Networking as Tools of Contextualizing Language Learning. 10th world conference on mobile and contextual learning. Beijing, China, 2011.

Attewell, J., Savill‐Smith, C., & Douch, R. (2009). The impact of mobile learning: Examining what it means for teaching and learning. London: Learning and Skills Network.

Attewell, J., & Webster, T. (2004). Engaging and supporting mobile learners. In Proceedings of MLEARNING 2004: Mobile learning anytime everywhere (pp. 15-20). London, UK: Learning and Skills Development Agency.

Baleghizadeh, S., & Oladrostam, E. (2010). The effect of mobile assisted language learning (MALL) on grammatical accuracy of EFL students. MEXTESOL Journal, 34, 1-10.

Begum, R. (2011). Prospect for Cell Phones as Instructional Tools in the EFL Classroom: A Case Study of Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. English Language Teaching, 4(1), 105-115.

Chinnery, G. (2006). Emerging Technologies - Going to the MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning. Language Learning & Technology, 10(1), 9-16.

Chun, D. M. (2006). CALL technologies for L2 reading. In L. Ducate, & N. Arnold (Eds.), Calling on CALL: From theory and research to new directions in foreign language teaching (pp. 69-98). CALICO Monograph Series Volume 5. Texas State University. San Marcos, TX: CALICO Publications.

Constantine, P. (2007). Podcasts: another source of listening input. The Internet TESL Journal. 2007. Retrieved from

Cress, U., & Kimmerle, J. (2008). A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3, 105-122.

Duncan-Howell, J., & Lee, K.-T. (2007). M-learning: Finding a place for mobile technologies within tertiary educational settings. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings Ascilite Singapore 2007, 223-231.

Fowler, T., Gasen, J., Roberts, L., & Saltzberg, S. (1996). Collaborative Learning Using Technology: Issues and Approaches, proceedings of the conference, "Broadening Our Horizons: Information, Services, Technology pages 8-8-1+.

Geddes, S. J. (2004) Mobile learning in the 21st century: benefit to learners. Retrieved from

Hoic-Bozic, N., Mornar, V., & Boticki, I. (2009). A Blended Learning Approach to Course Design and Implementation. IEEE Transactions on Education, 52(1), 19-30.

Hoven, D., & Palalas, A. (2011). (Re) conceptualizing design approaches for mobile language learning. CALICO Journal, 28, 699-720.

Kolb, L. (2008). Toys to Tools: Connecting Students' Cell phones to Education. International Society for Technology in Education. The International Society for Technology Education (ISTE).

Kondo, M., Ishikawa, Y., Smith, C., Sakamoto, K., Shimomura, H., & Wada, N. (2012). Mobile assisted language learning in university EFL courses in Japan: Developing attitudes and skills for self‐regulated learning. ReCALL, 24, 169-187.

Koole, M. (2009). A model for framing mobile learning. In M. Ally (Ed.), Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training (pp. 25-50). Edmonton, Alberta: Athabasca University Press.

Lan, Y. J., Sung, Y. T., & Chang, K. E. (2007). A mobile-devices-supported peer-assisted learning system for collaborative early EFL reading. Language Learning & Technology, 11(3), 130-151.

Lan, Y. J., Sung, Y. T., & Chang, K. E. (2009). Let us read together: Development and evaluation of a computer assisted reciprocal early English reading system. Computers & Education, 53(4), 1188-1198.

Lehner, F., & Nosekabel, H. (2002). The role of mobile devices in e-learning first experience with e-learning

Lu, M. (2008). Effectiveness of vocabulary learning via mobile phone. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(6), 515-525.

Mahgoub D. Ahmed. (2015). An Analysis of Comprehension Performance of Sudanese EFL Students. English Language Teaching, 8(7), 133-151. http://dx.doi:10.5539/elt.v8n7p133

Md. Yunus, M. M., Hashim, H., Embi, M. A., & Lubis, M. A. (2010).The utilization of ICT in the teaching and learning of English: 'Tell Me More'. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 685-691.

Miangah, T., & Amin, N. (2012). Mobile Assisted Language Learning. International Journal of Distributed and Parallel Systems (IJDPS), 3.

Morris N. O. (2011). Using Technology in the EFL Classroom in Saudi Arabia (2011). AYMAT Individual Thesis/

Mosquera, F. M. (2001). CALT: Exploiting Internet Resources and Multimedia for TEFL in Developing Countries. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(5), 461-468.

O'Conner. (2005). Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Students' Writing? New Horizon for Learning. Retrieved May 28, 2011, from http:,o'conner,htm

Pachler, N., Bachmair, B., & Cook, J. (2010). Mobile Learning, Structures, Agency, Practices. London: Springer.

Park, S. Y., Nam, M.-W., & Cha, S.-B. (2012). University students' behavioral intention to use mobile learning: evaluating the technology acceptance model. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(4), 592–605.

Pemberton, L., & Fallahkhair (2005) Design issues for dual device learning: interactive television and mobile phone. In: Proceedings of MLEARN 2005.

Reinder H. (2010). Twenty Ideas for Using Mobile Phones in the Language Classroom. ELT Forum, 46(3), 20-25, 33.

Resta, P., & Laferrière, T. (2007). Technology in Support of Collaborative Learning. Educ Psychol Rev, 19, 65-83.

Sarica, G. N., & Cavus, N. (2009). New trends in 21st Century English learning. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1, 439-445.

Seitzinger, J. (2006). Be constructive: Blogs, podcasts, and wikis as constructivist learning tools [Electronic Version].Learning Solutions e-Magazine, p. 15

Sharples, M. (2009). Methods for evaluating mobile learning. In G. Vavoula, N. Pachler, & A. Kukulska‐Hulme (Eds.), Researching mobile learning (pp. 17-40). Bern: Peter Lang.

Tanka, J., & Paul, M. (2012). Interactions 1 Listening and Speaking, Diamond Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

Thorton, P., & Houser, C. (2005). Using mobile phones in English education in Japan. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 217-228.

Traxler, J. (2009b). Learning in a mobile age. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1, 1-12.

Zhao, Y. (2005). The future of research in technology and second language education. In Y. Zhao (Ed.), Research in technology and second language learning: Developments and directions (pp.445-457). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Education and Linguistics Research

Education and Linguistics Research  ISSN 2377-1356

Copyright © Macrothink Institute 

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domains to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', please check your 'spam' or 'junk' folder.