Mobile-Assisted Vocabulary Learning: A Review Study

Parichehr Afzali, Somayeh Shabani, Zohreh Basir, Mohammad Ramazani


Mobile phones are becoming more acceptable toolkits to learn languages. One aspect of English language which has been subject to investigation in mobile assisted language learning (MALL) is vocabulary. This study reviewed some of the studies conducted in various contexts on the effect of MALL on vocabulary learning. We investigated some of the most prominent databases such as Science Direct, Wiley, Scopus and Oxford to find these studies; believing that this study can have pedagogical implications for future researchers and language teachers. We selected studies done in different countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, China, Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. Thirty studies were selected purposively in this way. Some of the main features of these studies are elaborated on in the discussion section. Pedagogical implications are discussed.


mobile phones, mobile-assisted language learning (MALL), mobile applications, vocabulary learning (VL)

Full Text:



Agca, R. K., & Özdemir, S. (2013). Foreign language vocabulary learning with mobile technologies. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 781-785.

Alemi, M., Sarab, M., & Lari, Z. (2012). Successful learning of academic word list via MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning. International Education Studies, 5(6), 99–109. Retrievable from

Ally, M., Tin, T., & Woodburn, T. (2011). Mobile learning: Delivering French using mobile devices. Proceedings 10th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn) (p. 448). Beijing, China: Beijing Normal University. Retrievable from

Al-Shehri, S. (2011). Context in our pockets: Mobile phones and social networking as tools of contextualizing language learning. Proceedings 10th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn) (pp. 278–286). Beijing, China: Beijing Normal University. Retrievable from

Amer, M. (2010). Idiomobile for learners of English: A study of learners’ usage of a mobile learning application for learning idioms and collocations. PhD dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Retrievable from

Attewell, J. (2005). Mobile technologies and learning: A technology update and m-learning project summary. London, UK: Learning Skills Development Agency. Retrievable from

Azabdaftari, B., & Mozaheb, M. (2012). Comparing vocabulary learning of EFL learners by using two different strategies: Mobile learning vs. flashcards. The Eurocall Review, 20(2), 47–59. Retrievable from

Basoglu, E. B., & AKDEMIR, Ö. (2010). A comparison of undergraduate students' English vocabulary learning: Using mobile phones and flash cards. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 9(3).

Brown, M. (2012). Tablet computing to cultivate Japanese EFL digital literacy: A study on video production in the classroom. In J. Colpaert, A. Aerts, W-C. Vivian Wu, & Y-C. Joni Chao, (Eds.), The Medium Matters (Proceedings 15th International CALL Conference) (p. 48). Retrievable from

Burston, J. (2013). Mobile-assisted language learning: A selected annotated bibliography of implementation studies 1994–2012. Language Learning & Technology, 17(3), 157-224.

Chen, C-M., & Chung, C-J. (2008). Personalized mobile English vocabulary learning system based on item response theory and learning memory cycle. Computers & Education, 51(2), 624–645. Retrievable from

Choi, E-J., & Jeong, D-b. (2010). The effects of college students’ vocabulary learning by using mobile LMS lessons. Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning, 13(3), 279–302. (in Korean). Retrievable from

Fisher, T., Pemberton, R., Sharples, M., Ogata, H., Uosaki, N., Edmonds, P., Hull, A., & Tschorn, P. (2009). Mobile learning of vocabulary from reading novels: A comparison of three modes. In D. Metcalf, A. Hamilton, & C. Graffeo, (Eds.), Proceedings of 8th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (pp. 191–194). Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Retrievable from

Gabarre, S., & Gabarre, C. (2009). Using cell phones in the language class: A preliminary look at some of the possibilities. The 6th Malaysia International Conference on Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (pp. 729–740). Putrajaya, Malaysia: Department of English, University Putra Malaysia.

Isazadeh, P., Makui, S. M. Z., & Ansarian, L. (2016). Effect of Instructional vs. Authentic Video Materials on Introvert and Extrovert Iranian EFL Learners' vocabulary learning. International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies, 4(4), 1-10.

Jafari, S., & Chalak, A. (2016). The Role of WhatsApp in Teaching Vocabulary to Iranian EFL Learners at Junior High School. English Language Teaching, 9(8), 85.

Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Bull, S. (2008).Theoretical perspectives on mobile language learning diaries and noticing for learners, teachers and researchers. In J. Traxler, B. Riordan, & Dennett, C. (Eds.), mLearn 2008 Conference Proceedings (pp. 184–191). Beijing, China: Beijing Normal University. Retrievable from

Lin, C-C., & Yu, Y-C. (2012). Learning English vocabulary on mobile phones. In J. Colpaert, A. Aerts, W-C. V. Wu, & Y-C. J. Chao (Eds.), The medium matters (Proceedings from the 15th International CALL Conference) (pp. 416–420). Retrievable from

Lin, C-P., Liu, K-P., & Niramitranon, J. (2008). Tablet PC to support collaborative learning: An empirical study of English vocabulary learning. In Fifth IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technology in Education (pp. 47–51). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society. Retrievable from

Liu, T-Y., & Chu, Y. (2010). Using ubiquitous games in an English listening and speaking course: impact on learning outcomes and motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 630–643. Retrievable from

Miyakoda, H., Kaneko, K., & Ishikawa, M. (2011). Effective learning materials for mobile devices: Image vs. Sound. In S. Barton et al. ( (Eds.), Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2011 (pp. 1683– 1690). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrievable from

Motallebzadeh, K., Beh-Afarin, R., & Daliry Rad, S. (2011). The effect of short message service on the retention of collocations among Iranian lower intermediate EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 1(11), 1514–1520. Retrievable from

Nah, K-C. (2011). Optimising the use of wireless application protocol (WAP) sites for listening activities in a Korean English as a foreign language (EFL) context. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 24(2), 103–116. Retrievable from

Brown, H.D. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. USA: Longman.

Chen, C.-M., & Li, Y.-L. (2010). Personalized context-aware ubiquitous learning system for supporting effective English vocabulary learning. Interactive Learning Environments, 18, 341–364. doi:10.1080/10494820802602329

Chun, D. M. (2011). Computer-assisted language learning. Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, 2, 663-680.

Geddes, S. (2004). Mobile learning in the 21st century: Benefit for learners. The Knowledge tree. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from:

Ellis, N. C. (1995). The psychology of foreign language vocabulary acquisition:

Implications for CALL. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 8, 103-128.

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2006). Mobile language learning now and in the future In: Svensson, Patrik ed. Från vision till praktik: Språkutbildning och Informationsteknik (From vision to practice: language learning and IT). Sweden: Swedish Net University (Nätuniversitetet), pp. 295–310.

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2010). Learning Cultures on the Move: Where are we heading? Educational Technology & Society, 13(4), 4–14.

Laurillard, D. (2007). Pedagogical forms of mobile learning: framing research questions. In Norbert Pachler (Ed), Mobile Learning: Towards a research agenda, Occasional papers in Work-based Learning, (pp.1112-131)I, WLE Centre, Institute of Education, London.

Levy, M., & Kennedy, C. (2005). Learning Italian via mobile SMS. In A. Kukulska-Hulme, & J. Traxler (Eds.), Mobile learning: A handbook for educators and trainers (pp. 76-83). London: Taylor and Francis.

Lin, C. C., & Yu, Y. C. (2016). Effects of presentation modes on mobile-assisted vocabulary learning and cognitive load. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-15.

Liu, T. Y., & Chu, Y. L. (2010). Using ubiquitous games in an English listening and speaking course: Impact on learning outcomes and motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 630-643.

Nikoopour, J., & Kazemi, A. (2014). Vocabulary learning through Digitized & Non-digitized Flashcards Delivery. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 1366-1373.

Ou-Yang, F. C., & Wu, W. C. V. (2017). Using Mixed-Modality vocabulary learning on Mobile Devices Design and Evaluation. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(8), 1043-1069.

Sharples, M. (2006). Big issues in mobile learning. Report of a workshop by Kaleidoscope Network Excellence Mobile Learning Initiative (pp. pp. 41–52). University of Nottingham, UK. Retrieved from

Tabatabaei, O., & Goojani, A. (2012). The impact of text messaging on vocabulary learning of Iranian EFL learners. Cross Cultural Communication, 8(2), 47–55.

Wilkins, D. A. (1972). Linguistics in language teaching. E. Arnold,

Wu, Q. (2014). Learning ESL vocabulary with smartphones. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 143, 302-307.

Zhang, H., Song, W., & Burston, J. (2011). Reexamining the effectiveness of vocabulary learning via mobile phones. TOJET, 10(3), 203-214.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.