An Empirical Study on Vocabulary Recall and Learner Autonomy through Mobile?Assisted Language Learning in Blended Learning Settings


  • Takeshi Sato Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Fumiko Murase Ryukoku University
  • Tyler Burden Meisei University



mobile-assisted language learning, vocabulary recall, academic writing, learner autonomy, motivation, blended learning


This study aims to examine the efficacy of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) of English as a foreign or second language (L2) through two perspectives: learning gain and learner autonomy. Previous studies have shown that L2 learning combined with media could activate the learning processes, resulting in an easier recall of the target vocabulary required in L2. In addition, mobileassisted L2 learning could also enhance autonomous learning inasmuch as successful MALL would have to rely mainly on the autonomous learner even in learning contexts where the goal and task are already fixed. Based on this standpoint, the study hypothesizes that the engagement in L2 learning with mobile devices along with a classroom-based writing course could make L2 learners not only achieve the target L2 lexis effectively, leading to better L2 writing performance, but also help them to be more autonomous even in a setting when the task and goal are fixed. To test this hypothesis, both empirical and questionnaire studies were conducted for Japanese undergraduates (n=94). Based on the results of three weeks of L2 academic writing practice between groups learning with and without mobile devices, the findings of our t-test analyses of learners’ vocabulary recall and a questionnaire survey about learner autonomy suggested that MALL significantly contributed not only to L2 vocabulary recall in comprehensive and productive tests, but also to enhancing positive attitudes towards autonomous learning.

Author Biographies

Takeshi Sato, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

Takeshi Sato is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Engineering at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan. His current academic interests are L2 vocabulary acquisition, CALL, and MALL. His articles can be found in several journals such as TESOL Quarterly and ReCALL, and he recently published a book on Implementing Mobile Language Learning Technologies in Japan (Springer Education).

Fumiko Murase, Ryukoku University

Fumiko Murase is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Economics at Ryukoku University, Japan, where she teaches English to undergraduate students. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from Macquarie University, Australia. Her research interests include learner autonomy in language learning, assessment, and out-of-class learning in the EFL context.

Tyler Burden, Meisei University

Tyler Burden is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Meisei University, Japan. His research interests include L2 vocabulary acquisition and testing. He has published various materials for EFL learners including textbooks and graded readers.


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How to Cite

Sato, T., Murase, F., & Burden, T. (2020). An Empirical Study on Vocabulary Recall and Learner Autonomy through Mobile?Assisted Language Learning in Blended Learning Settings. CALICO Journal, 37(3), 254–276.