Investigating the life cycle of language learning applications: Going beyond the Hype Cycle




Section: Regular Articles




As learning is more real and permanent when connected to learners’ private lives beyond the classroom (Godwin-Jones, 2011), mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) has emerged as a good way to support language learning especially in informal contexts. With thousands of language learning applications (apps) becoming available, more and more language learners have started to use them as a support for their language learning. The purpose of this research is to investigate the life cycle of language learning apps and the reasons why learners decide to start, stop and restart using apps to better understand the real situation of the use of the apps. The data collected from a survey of 186 participants with experience of using language learning apps were analyzed. The results showed that the language learning app has three different phases in its life cycle, which are “increasing period”, “decreasing period” and “reviving period” with three turning points. This life cycle is similar to the Hype Cycle, a model describing how a new technology develops. Furthermore, the reasons behind the three turning points were also discussed. Influence from teachers and friends was the most significant one among factors contributing to starting using apps; the reasons for abandoning apps can be divided into app-related ones such as dissatisfaction of apps and learner-related ones such as stop learning a language; restarting to learn a language is the major reason for participants who chose to use apps again. The results also revealed that language learners had a positive attitude towards language learning apps, while the high abandoned rate of using apps also indicated that both apps and learning patterns could be improved if teachers can provide more sufficient and appropriate guidance to support the selection and use of apps, and app-designers can include more meaningful and interactive activities rather than just providing drills.

Keywords: mobile-assisted language learning, language learning applications, apps, Hype Cycles

Suggested Citation:

Huang, W. (2024). Investigating the life cycle of language learning applications: Going beyond the Hype Cycle. Technology in Language Teaching & Learning, 6(2), 1187.


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