Text-message course helping newcomers learn English
A pen and paper aren't necessary in an Edmonton classroom where students are learning English with a new tool — text messages on their cellphones.
Under a pilot project, the students at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are testing "m-learning," or mobile learning,wherethey download an English grammar lesson, then answer a series of multiple choice, or true or false questions.
Athabasca University, a long-distance post-secondary school, created the cellphone lessons for those wanting to learn English as a second language (ESL).
"You're controlling it, which is so nice," said Tracey Woodburn of Athabasca University. "A lot of people have been telling me, 'Oh, I can do this when I am watching my kid's soccer practice or when I am on the bus coming to school.'"
'You learn where you are'
The students in the class are from all over the world, many from countries where they don't have home phones, only cellphones.
"Everybody has a phone. My husband and I worked in Japan for five years teaching ESL and we were the only people in the school, out of 600 people, who didn't have cellphones," said Woodburn.
Student Fadieh Al-Kaloti said cellphone learning works well for her.
"You learn where you are — in the bus or in the train or maybe in the plane,"she said.
If the pilot project works, Athabasca University hopes eventually people all over the world will be able dial up English lessons on their cellphone, whether it's the LRT in Edmonton or the bullet train in Japan.