Learning on the Go - M-learning

by Linguarama 24. January 2012 03:49

Many business people travel. They spend long hours in hotel rooms, at airports and on trains. We are all under pressure to make the most of our 'caught time' and the current interest in m-learning ('mobile learning') is, therefore, completely understandable. This blog post explores M-learning, sometimes described as learning 'on the go'.


What kind of hardware is needed? M-learning can be done using any suitable portable device. ('Portable' is the key word here). This includes: lap-tops and net-books; mobile phones and, of course, Smartphones; mp3 players, such as the ubiquitous iPod; iPads and other tablet computers. The term M-learning can also include a range of other devices, such as electronic translators and e-book readers.


It is difficult to tie down M-learning, because it means different things in different contexts. This is not unusual; the same thing happened with terms like 'e-learning'. So, let us take a look at a few common contexts for M-learning in the business English world.

1) You decide to subscribe to a 'push' service which sends you a short text each day to your mobile phone, along with a language exercise

2) You go jogging and listen to an authentic 'podcast' from your own field on your mp3 player

3) You use a translation dictionary on a tablet device to help process the content of a meeting in real time

4) You listen to a graded reader on your iPhone or Kindle; the author reads the e-book while you follow the text on-screen

5) You and your teacher discuss your company website in-class, using your iPad

These situations are very different. The last example takes place in a classroom, for instance.

It's a good idea to think about your own learning situation and the benefits m-learning can offer. You can study 'a little and often'; make good use of 'dead' time. You can work on improving listening and reading skills effectively between classes, and consolidate the work covered in your language lessons.

A good place to start is with some of the useful apps for learning (see: recent blog post on apps). The world of M-learning is very exciting .....and that in itself is motivating!


Learning New Words Electronically

by Linguarama 6. January 2012 07:29


How do you store the new words and phrases you meet on your language course? Many students write down their new words in a notebook, along with a translation. However, it can be difficult to find the words you record like this, in order to review them. Have you thought about how technology can help? This blog post looks at some of the exciting ways in which language learners can store their new words electronically.


Whichever language you are learning, a quick and easy way to get started is to enter your new words on a simple spreadsheet. You can include a column with information about the word, such as whether it is a noun, verb or adjective. A nice feature of a spreadsheet is that you can organise words alphabetically. It is a good idea to include a final column to create a meaningful sentence containing the new word. This personalises the language and helps you remember the new words. In time, you can build up a 'personal dictionary'. Try: google.docs 


MyWordBook is a great free app from the British Council, and worth investigating by learners of English. You can add your own new words, a translation, and even import a photograph from your album to illustrate a word. This app allows you to practise the new words through a simple multiple-choice game.


Technology can help you store words in 'concept groups' such as: finance, technology, hobbies etc. In the Macmillan English Dictionary app, you can create your own categories, then assign words to them. You can even add a 'note' to a word, allowing you to 'personalise' your electronic dictionary. Of course, you have the added bonus of being able to listen to your new words.


Just think about the number of words and phrases you meet every time you listen to the news or read a text. Whichever language you are learning, it pays to be 'systematic' in storing and reviewing vocabulary. Why not make 2012 the year you explore some ways in which technology can help you review your new words?