Facilitating english as a foreign language learners’ vocabulary learning, task completion and contextual vocabulary exploration processes in a mobile supported situated learning environment

Uz Bilgin, Çiğdem
The aim of this study was to investigate how vocabulary learning, task completion, and contextual vocabulary exploration processes of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners can be facilitated in a mobile supported situated learning environment. METU Science and Technology Museum which is a large, open space populated with interactive science exhibits was chosen as an authentic learning environment. Mobile system which includes instructions of the experiments and also provides dictionary and visual definition support facilitated learners to complete the authentic tasks and learn vocabulary in context. The mobile system and authentic learning environment were integrated based on the principles of Situated Learning Theory. In five-week period, 25 students from Department of Basic English conducted interactive experiments in authentic learning environment with the support of mobile vocabulary learning system. Embedded mixed design was employed in which quantitative phase within a larger qualitative phase was embedded. While quantitative part included one group pretest-posttest design and system logs, qualitative part included semi-structured interviews, retrospective reviews, and observation. The results of the study indicated that contextual vocabulary learning can be supported and enhanced with mobile technologies by taking into account the factors of contextual clues, word frequency, and learners’ domain knowledge, interest, and focus. Moreover, situated learning environment promoted long-term retention, contextual and incidental learning of vocabulary. Lastly, suggestions for creating mobile supported situated learning environments and practical implications were revealed.