Emerge or submerge: conceptions of mobile-assisted language learning in the transition of freshmen English-major students to higher education in a university in China

Student thesis: EdD Thesis


Adopting an ecological view of language learning and language learning development, this study investigated the ways in which English-major learners reconceptualized and reconstructed their learning environments in terms of their use of mobile devices during the first year of higher education in China. Focusing on the students’ conceptions of mobile-assisted language learning (MALL), the study used narrative inquiry to dig deeply into students’ language learning experience. Participants were viewed as a group in the investigation of language learning environments. Three narrative cases, as representatives of extensive, limited, and minimal use in MALL, were explored individually in the inquiry of language learning ecology construction. Participants perceived and welcomed changes in language learning environments in their transition to higher education. Besides language learning environments in higher education, which were conducive to MALL at the microsystemic, mesosystemic, exosystemic, and macrosystemic levels, language learning ecology construction in terms of the use of mobile devices still required generative characteristics and corresponding resource characteristics to shape learners’ healthy development. Government policymakers, school leaders, classroom teachers, parents, and students themselves can help facilitate the integration of MALL into learners’ language learning ecology construction.
Date of AwardNov 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorJohn Trent (Supervisor) & Ricky Jeffrey (Supervisor)


  • mobile-assisted language learning (MALL)
  • language learning ecology
  • transition to higher education
  • English-major learners

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