Date of Award

8-9-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dan J. Tannacito, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study explored how four groups of English learners used a mobile software application developed by the researcher for learning idiomatic expressions and collocations. A total of 45 learners in the study used the application for a period of one week. Data for this study was collected from a questionnaire, the application, and follow-up interviews. Findings in the study show that idiomatic expressions and collocations are particularly difficult for English language learners. All learners in this study averaged less than 70 percent on the quizzes they took during the study, which echoes reported findings in the field regarding the difficulty of idiomatic expressions and collocations for English language learners. In addition, findings show that learners’ usage of the application correlated with their average scores on the quizzes. The more learners used the application, the higher they scored on the quizzes in the application. Learners’ usage focused mainly on the quiz and game sections of the application. In a week, learners in all groups answered 8,654 quiz questions with an average of 60 questions for each learner. In addition, findings show that usage of mobile devices in general can predict how English learners used the application. Findings also underscore the importance of providing language learners with resources to help them learn idiomatic expressions and collocation. Learners strongly indicated that even within a short period of time, they felt they knew more idioms and collocations since they started using the application. Data from the application show that learners had difficulty understanding idiomatic expressions relating to feelings, such as a chip on your shoulder, or hot under the collar. Findings also show that learners in this study seem to recognize longer idiomatic expressions than shorter idiomatic expressions. Findings also show that learners’ have strong positive opinions toward the use of mobile technology in language learning.

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