Monday, February 12, 2007

Text-message course helping newcomers learn English

Once again, language classes seem to be one of the best uses for mLearning solutions. This also shows something I've been saying for a while, mLearning is HERE, NOW! It has simply defied being labeled as such.

Text-message course helping newcomers learn English

A pen and paper aren't necessary in an Edmonton classroom where students are learning English with a new tool — text messages on their cellphones.
Under a pilot project, the students at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are testing "m-learning," or mobile learning, where they download an English grammar lesson, then answer a series of multiple choice, or true or false questions.

Athabasca University, a long-distance post-secondary school, created the cellphone lessons for those wanting to learn English as a second language (ESL).
"You're controlling it, which is so nice," said Tracey Woodburn of Athabasca University. "A lot of people have been telling me, 'Oh, I can do this when I am watching my kid's soccer practice or when I am on the bus coming to school.'"

'You learn where you are' The students in the class are from all over the world, many from countries where they don't have home phones, only cellphones.
"Everybody has a phone. My husband and I worked in Japan for five years teaching ESL and we were the only people in the school, out of 600 people,
who didn't have cellphones," said Woodburn.

Student Fadieh Al-Kaloti said cellphone learning works well for her. "You learn where you are — in the bus or in the train or maybe in the plane," she said. If the pilot project works, Athabasca University hopes eventually people all over the world will be able dial up English lessons on their cellphone, whether it's the LRT in Edmonton or the bullet train in Japan.


Anonymous said...

Hello! I found you through one of your LinkedIn Answers.

This is a really neat use of m-learning. I agree with you that language training could be a good avenue for this technology. I'm glad you shared this article.

I wrote a bit more about this on my blog as well.

Anonymous said...

Cell phones are good for deaf-mutes as well. Text messaging function makes comunication easier for them.

Anonymous said...

Cool site you have, very informative. Would you mind if i ask you for a link exchange? keep on rocking, regards.

Anonymous said...

Ever since I finished school I didn’t think I would want to have anymore lessons ever again, however recently I have wanted to learn a foreign language, maybe become fluent in one and basic in a couple of others. I did a bit of research and found there were loads of different packages available I went with one that claims you teach yourself French and I was impressed it was a computer program that helped with pronunciation and speaks back to you so you can hear it too.

Anonymous said...

Hey this is a great technique to learn! The fact that text messaging is being used more than actual talking makes it perfect for learning an practicing. Good job!

Unknown said...


Its a good blog, quite interesting to read. Its a great technique to learn English.. Another good advantage for this types of classes that the students can come from all over world and they can share their personal experiences and one if interested to learn different languague other than English, then they can learn from each other easily..

Good way of teaching I must say.. Great Idea..

Rone from sejour linguistique vancouver

Tom said...

Hi, I'm interested to know the outcome of this pilot program, as I had tried an experimental version of this myself some years ago.

Does anyone know if this program was a success or has since been discontinued by Athabasca University?

Please email me at info [at)

Thanks, Tom