Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools

May 29, 2017

Our current understanding of how migrants use mobile tools to support their communication and language learning is inadequate. This study, therefore, explores the learner-initiated use of technologies to support their comprehension, production, and acquisition of English following migration to Canada. Information about migrant use of technologies and experiences was collected by interviews. The interview data was analysed through the complementary lenses of noticing, from language learning, and appropriation, from human-computer interaction. Combining these lenses enabled the identification of unmet migrant communication, support, and learning needs. The manner in which migrants employed mobile and other tools to facilitate their learning and communication were identified through the application of these theories. This analysis indicates that migrants can use existing tools to access information. However, they need additional support if they are to take full advantage of existing mobile tools. Moreover, there is a need for tools that support larger gaps in their knowledge and skills. Migrant experiences indicate that they need additional social, meta-cognitive, and emotional support. These needs suggest opportunities for creating mobile tools that scaffold the development of new skills that include the learner’s ability to monitor and plan his or her learning and understand language produced by those who speak different varieties of English or who have non-majority accents.

Journal of Interactive Media in Education