Learning on the go: How mobile apps can help college students learn a new language
Learning is the universal keystone of higher education, but it doesn’t come naturally to every student in the same time or way. Traditional methods of language practice may no longer be effective for iGen* (Gen Z) students.
Some lessons to be learned
For iGen students, the overwhelming prevalence of technology in their lives and instant access to information can be incredibly helpful to their education. But distractions are also stronger than ever, particularly when it comes to phones. 87% of 18- to 24-year-olds report that they use their smartphones more than any other device.
While, the actual amount of time each day that students spend on their phones is staggering, other more pressing needs also dominate their time: 85% of college students are employed in paid jobs, the majority of whom are working out of financial necessity1. Because of these factors, there are few uninterrupted hours to spend studying.
A generally recommended rule of three study hours a week per class credit would dictate that the average 15-credit course load would require 45 hours of study each week. However, a study by McGraw-Hill reported that only 9% of college students spent more than 20 hours studying weekly.2
The mobile mindset
While professors are beginning to utilize online learning options, many of these platforms are only accessible by computer, which may mean hunkering down in a wifi-enabled location and bringing the computer along in order to study, which many are unwilling or unable to do.
With mobile learning however, the barrier is lowered to an almost non-existent level. Students can study on the bus, on a break at work, or even while on a treadmill at the gym.
Meeting iGen in their moment
Enter hybrid courses, a blend of in-person instruction and self-paced online learning. These models take significant pressure off of students, allowing them to learn when they have time. According to The Center for Digital Education, blended or hybrid education models improve comprehension and test scores for 84% of students.3
This can be an important edge for language courses, since learning a new language can be one of the most challenging obstacles for college students to overcome. Pew Research Center found that only 20% of K–12 students in the U.S. are enrolled in foreign language classes4, which means that most incoming iGen college students who are required to take a language class will be learning it for the first time, and will likely have difficulty adopting the necessary skill set to succeed.
After completing their degrees, in the absence of accessible learning materials, college students have traditionally been unlikely to continue studying foreign languages. Less than one percent of American adults remain proficient in a language they learned in high school or college.5 But with access to a fun, easy-to-use mobile learning app in perpetuity, that statistic could change.
A learning app for every time, everywhere, everyone
As mobile technology continues to thrive, the answer to educational challenges is still the same: there’s an app for that!
Pearson courses in Duolingo™ employ a variety of methods to ensure that their lessons (available in six different Pearson titles and four languages) are a perfect fit for every iGen user. Users can set flexible daily practice goals, earn crowns and currency for completing lessons, use their balance to “purchase” fun bonus skills or streak preservers, and enjoy personalized lessons generated based on data regarding their work in the app. It’s a bright, fun, affordable form of learning that students can access at any time.
And why is the effectiveness of Duolingo so important? Employability. Americans underestimate the assistance of bilingualism in gaining employment; only 36% believe that knowing a second language is at least a very important skill for workers to achieve career success, ranking this last out of eight skills.6 Yet demand for bilingual employees has skyrocketed in the last decade, making foreign language mastery a powerful skill for iGen college students to focus on.
To learn more about mobile learning, read our ebook.
² “2017 Digital Study Trends Survey,” McGraw-Hill Education
³ “The curriculum of the future: How digital content is changing education,” The Center for Digital Education
4 “Most European students are learning a foreign language in school while Americans lag,” Pew Research Center
5 “Not Lost in Translation: The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the U.S. Job Market,” New American Economy
6 “Most European students are learning a foreign language in school while Americans lag,” Pew Research Center
* The term “iGen” is used by Author and Professor Dr. Jean Twenge in her book iGen:
Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood as an alternative to the descriptor “Generation Z.”