The Networked Smart Gadgets and Their Role(s) in Enhancing Learning Autonomy in Higher Education’s EFL Context

Hamda Abdulaziz Laouini(1*),

(1) University of Jeddah
(*) Corresponding Author



The present study explores the perceptions of EFL teachers in higher education on the role of handheld networked devices in promoting autonomous learning. In this project 43 male teachers from King Abdulaziz University (KAU) and the University of Jeddah (UJ) in Saudi Arabia (KSA) responded to a survey. Qualitative data, on the other hand, was gathered through a silent interview where informants answered five open-ended questions related to study’s research questions. The findings revealed the participants value the usefulness of smartphones in enhancing autonomy in language learning. They were also of the view that smartphones have beneficial characteristics when used in actual classroom. In addition, the results show that most of the participants are for a purposeful and guided integration of this type of technology in order to help learners develop the required linguistic and extra-linguistic skills. Equally important was the finding that use the of smartphones along well-developed L2 learning applications in language learning cannot replace the teachers’ vital and crucial role in the whole learning process.


Higher education, smartphones, EFL, language learning, autonomous learning

Full Text:



Aoki, N. (1999). Affect and the role of teachers in the development of learner autonomy. Affect in language learning, 142-154.

Abugohar, M. A., Yunus, K., & Rashid, R. A. (2019). Smartphone Applications as a Teaching Technique for Enhancing Tertiary Learners' Speaking Skills: Perceptions and Practices. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 14(9).‏

Aljuaid, N. M. F., Alzahrani, M. A. R., & Islam, A. Y. M. (2014). Assessing mobile learning readiness in Saudi Arabia higher education: An empirical study. Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Technology, 2(2), 1-14.‏ Retrieved from

Al-Saadi, H. M. (2011). From spoon feeding to self-feeding: Helping learners take control of their own learning. Arab World English Journal, 2(3), 95-114.‏ Retrieved from

Alzubi, A. (2019). Teachers’ Perceptions on Using Smartphones in English as a Foreign Language Context. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 4(1), 92-104. Retrieved April 29, 2021 Retrieved from

Alzubi, A. A. F., & Singh, M. K. M. (2017). The Use of language learning strategies through smartphones in improving learner autonomy in EFL reading among undergraduates in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of English Linguistics, 7(6), 59-72.‏ DOI:10.5539/ijel.v7n6p59

Anggeraini, Y., Faridi, A., Mujiyanto, J., & Bharati, D. A. L. (2019). The teachers' perceptions on digital literacy competences in EFL classroom. Asian EFL Journal, 24(4), 5-12.

Benson, P. (2010). 5. Measuring Autonomy: Should We Put Our Ability to the Test?. In Testing the untestable in language education (pp. 77-97). Multilingual Matters.

Bradley, C., & Holley, D. (2011). Empirical research into students’ mobile phones and their use for learning. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 3(4), 38–53.

Bruner, J. S., & Duhl, L. (1966). Book and film reviews: Toward a theory of instruction. The Physics Teacher, 4(4), 183-184.

Campbell, S. W. (2006). Perceptions of mobile phones in college classrooms: Ringing, cheating, and classroom policies. Communication education, 55(3), 280-294.‏

Catapano, J. (2015). Advantages/disadvantages of the iPad classroom. Retrieved August 22, 2020, Retrieved from

Cheon, J., Lee, S., Crooks, S. M., & Song, J. (2012). An investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher education based on the theory of planned behavior. Computers & education, 59(3), 1054-1064.

Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Sage publications.‏

Creswell, J. A. (1998). Five qualitative traditions of inquiry. Qualitative inquiry and research design. Choosing among five traditions, 47-72.‏

Dam, L. (1995). Learner autonomy 3: From theory to classroom practice. Authentik Language Learning Resources.

Delany, S. R. (2012). Silent interviews: On language, race, sex, science fiction, and some comics—A collection of written interviews. Wesleyan University Press.‏

Dincay, T. (2010). A quick chronological review of the ELT methods along with their techniques and principles: choosing eclecticism from among language teaching methods. Language Magazine, (147), pp. 40-62. Retrieved from:

Djoub, Z. (2015). Mobile technology and learner autonomy in language learning. In Human-computer interaction: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 291-309). IGI Global.‏

https://DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6343-5.ch012

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford University Press.

Eppard, J., Nasser, O., & Reddy, P. (2016). The Next Generation of Technology: Mobile Apps in the English Language Classroom. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 11(4).‏

Franklin, T. (2011). Mobile learning: At the tipping point. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology-TOJET, 10(4), 261-275.‏ Retrieved from

Godwin-Jones, R. (2011). Mobile apps for language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 15(2), 2-11. Retrieved from

Hajan, B. H., & Padagas, R. C. Blended Learning in A Research Writing Class: Perceptions and Experiences from ESL Secondary Learners. TESOL International Journal, 103. ‏Retrieved from

Hsieh, S., Jang, Y., Hwang, G., & Chen, N. (2011). Effects of teaching and learning styles on students’ reflection levels for ubiquitous learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1194-1201.

Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press.

Hwang, G. J., & Chang, H. F. (2011). A formative assessment-based mobile learning approach to improving the learning attitudes and achievements of students. Computers & Education, 56(4), 1023-1031.‏

Jarvis, H. A. (2014). Digital residents: Practices and perceptions of non native speakers. The Asian EFL Journal, 75, 21-35.‏ Retrieved from

Jones, L. (2007). The student-centered classroom. Cambridge University Press.

Kashefian-Naini, S. (2002). An investigation into college EFL learners’ beliefs demonstrating their predispositions towards learner autonomy. Unpublished masters’ thesis). Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.‏

Koschmann, T., Kelson, A. C., Feltovich, P. J., & Barrows, H. S. (1996). Computer-supported problem-based learning: A principled approach to the use of computers in collaborative learning. CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm, 83-124.‏

Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Shield, L. (2008). An overview of mobile assisted language learning: From content delivery to supported collaboration and interaction.

Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Shield, L. (2008). An overview of mobile assisted language learning: From content delivery to supported collaboration and interaction. ReCALL, 20(3), 271-289.‏ DOI:

Little, D. (2007). Language Learner Autonomy: some Fundamental Considerations Revisited. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1, 1, 14-29.

Little, D. (1994). Learner autonomy: A theoretical construct and its practical application. Die Neueren Sprachen, 93(5), 430-442.‏

Little, D. (1991). Learner Autonomy: Definitions. Issues and Problems, 4, 33.

Littlewood, W. (1999). Defining and developing autonomy in East Asian contexts. Applied Linguistics, 20, 71-94

MacIntyre, P. (2010). Symposium-perspectives on motivation for second language learning on the 50th anniversary of Gardner & Lambert (1959). Language Teaching, 43(3), 374.

Retrieved from

Martin, F., & Ertzberger, J. (2013). Here and now mobile learning: An experimental study on the use of mobile technology. Computers & Education, 68, 76–85.

Nguyen, T. N., Philipsen, B., Muls, J., Wang, R., & Lombaerts, K. (2018). Motivation and Barriers for University Teachers to Apply Blended Learning in Language Classes. Journal of English as an International Language, 13, 81-99.‏ Retrieved from

Oliver, R. (2007 Using mobile technologies to support learning in large on campus university classes. Retrieved November 12, 2020, Retrieved from

Oz, H. (2015). An Investigation of Preservice English Teachers' Perceptions of Mobile Assisted Language Learning. English Language Teaching, 8(2), 22-34.‏ Retrieved from

Prasad, B. B. N. (2013). Communicative language teaching in 21st century ESL classroom. English for Specific Purposes World, 14(40), 1-8.‏ Retrieved from

Serin, O. (2012). Mobile learning perceptions of the prospective teachers (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus sampling). Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET, 11(3), 222-233.

Sharples, M. (2002). Disruptive devices: mobile technology for conversational learning. International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life Long Learning, 12(5-6), 504-520.‏‏

Sharpies, M., Taylor, J. & Vavoula, G. (2007). A theory of learning for the mobile age. In The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research (pp. 221-247). SAGE Publications, Ltd,

Schwab, K. (2021, March 23). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

Statista Research Department, & 26, A. (2020, August 26). Smartphone users in Saudi Arabia 2018-2023. Retrieved December 29, 2020, from

Stockwell, G. (2010). Using mobile phones for vocabulary activities: Examining the effect of platform. Language Learning & Technology, (14)2, 95–110.

Trilling, B., Fadel, C., & Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Uzunboylu, H., & Ozdamli, F. (2011). Teacher perception for m‐learning: scale development and teachers' perceptions. Journal of Computer assisted learning, 27(6), 544-556.‏

Van Lier, L. (2014). Interaction in the language curriculum: Awareness, autonomy and authenticity. Routledge.

Vincent, T. (2014, October 03). Ways to Evaluate Educational Apps. Retrieved from

Wang, Y. S., Wu, M. C., & Wang, H. Y. (2009). Investigating the determinants and age and gender differences in the acceptance of mobile learning. British journal of educational technology, 40(1), 92-118.

Wexler, S., Brown, J., Metcalf, D., Rogers, D., & Wagner, E. (2008). Mobile learning: What it is, why it matters, and how to incorporate it into your learning strategy. Guild Research.‏

Wu, W. H., Wu, Y. C. J., Chen, C. Y., Kao, H. Y., Lin, C. H., & Huang, S. H. (2012). Review of trends from mobile learning studies: A meta-analysis. Computers & education, 59(2), 817-827.‏

Zilber, J. (2013). Smartphones as a platform for English Language learning. Teachers of English as a Second Language Association of Ontario. Retrieved from

Article Metrics

Abstract view : 452 times | PDF view : 69 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

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

View My Stats

Published by:

Pascasarjana, Universitas Negeri Makassar

Jalan Bonto Langkasa, Banta-Bantaeng, Rappocini, Banta-Bantaeng, Kec. Rappocini, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90222

E-ISSN: 2503-2291

P-ISSN: 2303-3037

ELT Worldwide: Journal of English Language Teaching is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- 4.0 International License.