Educational applications used for developing language competence in the mother tongue and the English language in Poland
Background of the study
Considering the issue of developing language competences of contemporary children, it is necessary to refer to digital tools used for learning about reality. Mobiles (smartphones and tablets) and stationary computers have the potential to transform the way the mother tongue and a foreign language are learnt. For this reason, basic communication skills, such as reading and writing, based on active participation in the written form of social communication (having huge socio-cultural significance) are also crucial skills for using “new communication systems". In this respect, one can observe a significant tendency to "self-educate" among children, from their early childhood. The reason is the easy access to apps given to young children by adults.
The study refers to a few research questions:
1. What applications for children are currently the most common at primary schools to learn Polish?
2. What applications to learn English are the most popular at schools?
3. What are the motives of the choices?
4. What kind of contribution to learning languages are the applications expected to have?
The theoretical basis for the study is given by the findings on the effects of use of high technologies by children. There is an evidence of early initiation in the use of devices and mobile applications by children (Kim & Smith, 2017; Bąk 2016). The integration of technology into learning (e.g. Mobile Assisted Language Learning – MALL) brings positive outcome (Liu et al., 2014) and helps language skills develop (Zou & Li, 2015). On the other hand, some studies (Wileczek, 2016) raise the problem of unknown consequences of acquisition of a mother tongue stimulated by the technology and simultaneously – a process of weakening interactions in the society. An important drawback of using technology for language learning is the lack of a social contact: the child interacts with the technological device with the voice of the speaker. Initial insight into the problem indicates a large number of apps available, which often use the same methods for learning several languages by children. The researchers look at the various apps and evaluate their support for Polish and English languages development. The processes are different; however, all apps provide the same methods of scaffolding children’s language learning, referring to their learning styles, and adding the context to their learning. The apps develop several linguistic skills and language strategies, and what differs is only the content and the language itself.
Sampling is done by analysing the offer of language applications (for Android / IOS and Windows / Mac system) for children, available on Polish market for last 5 years, and a selection of the most popular apps. The authors do the Internet website search and study also parents' opinions and comments on these apps that are described in the blogs and parents’ websites.
The researchers do the content analysis (qualitative analysis) of the data collected. The sample size is determined on the basis of informational needs.
The most popular applications are subjects to substantive analysis due to the following criteria:
a. the attractiveness of the app
b. instructional value
c. possible adaptation for using at school
d. language skills and competence supported
Data and results
The analysis of the results of the research on applications are primarily didactic. It is to be a useful source of information for parents as well as for the creators of such applications.
The results of the research provide the evaluation of language educational apps and give some guidelines for the designers of the new ones.
Bąk A. (2016), Korzystanie z urządzeń mobilnych przez małe dzieci w Polsce. Wyniki badania ilościowego (The use of mobile devices by children. The quantitative research), http://fdn.pl/badania-fdn, access: 12.01.2016
Działalność bibliotek publicznych (Performance of the public libraries): wytyczne (guidelines) IFLA/UNESCO, http://docplayer.pl/6008020-Wplyw-czytania-na-rozwoj-dzieci-i-mlodziezy.html, access: 14.01.2016.
Kim Y., Smith, D., (2017). Pedagogical and technological augmentation of mobile learning for young children interactive learning environment, Interactive Learning Environment, 25 (1), pp. 4-16.
Liu, M.; Scordino, R., Geurtz, R.; Navarrete, C., Ko, Y., Lim, M. (2014). A Look at Research on Mobile Learning in K-12 education from 2007 to the present, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(4), pp. 325-372.
Wileczek A. (2016), Czytanie i pisanie na ekranie. (Samo)kształcenie kompetencji komunikacyjnych młodszych dzieci (Reading and writing on the screen. (Self)development of communicative competence of young children), in: Edukacja polonistyczna jako zobowiązanie. Powszechność i elitarność polonistyki (Polish education as a duty. Popularity and elitism of Polish studies), red. Ewa Jaskółowa, Danuta Krzyżyk, Bernadeta Niesporek-Szamburska, Małgorzata Wójcik-Dudek, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach, Katowice, pp. 253-26.
Zou B., Li, J. (2015). Exploring Mobile Apps for English Language Teaching and Learning, Research – publishing net.
language learning applications, language competence,