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The impact of smartphone dictionary apps on EFL learning

The present study is an ongoing project to examine how the current “Digital Natives” use their smartphone dictionary apps for their EFL study, compared to the use of handheld e-dictionaries.
The participants of the study were university students who make good use of smartphones to get information. Also, they use their handheld e-dictionaries for their daily study. They were asked to introduce an English-Japanese dictionary application to their smartphones such as iPhones, and to take sufficient time to get used to the smartphone dictionary apps in advance. In the first session of the study, the difference in learners’ look-up behavior between the use of the handheld e-dictionary and the smartphone dictionary apps were compared. They were assigned a word definition and a reading comprehension tasks with their two types of dictionaries respectively. The time they needed for the tasks, the numbers of their lookups, and the quiz scores were compared. In the second session, which was held on a week after the first session, a recognition test was conducted to investigate how the looked-up words were retained. The learners’ impressions and comments on each dictionary were examined as well.
The results showed that although they needed more time to use the smartphone dictionary apps than the handheld ones, no significant differences were found in both the numbers of lookups. Pedagogical suggestions concerning dictionary interface will be made based on their comments.


Toshiko Koyama    
English Department
Osaka Ohtani University

Toshiko Koyama (Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education) is currently Associate Professor at English Department of Osaka Ohtani University, Osaka, Japan. Her research focuses on the application of new technologies to foreign language education.


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