Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


Language Learning in Higher Education

Journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education (CercleS)

Editor-in-Chief: Szczuka-Dorna, Liliana / O’Rourke, Breffni

CiteScore 2018: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.290

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Mobile language learning applications for Arabic speaking migrants – a usability perspective

Khaled Walid Al-Sabbagh / Linda Bradley / Lorna Bartram
Published Online: 2019-07-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2019-0004


Usability testing with mobile applications (apps) plays an important role in determining the ease of use of an app as well as in informing their design and development. The purpose of this research is to investigate the usability of three language learning apps with a sample of Arabic speaking migrants who have recently arrived to Sweden. In addition, We surveyed available apps for the target group on both Android and Apple market stores and used a framework for categorizing language learning apps to guide the design and development of our own app. The outcomes show that in order for users to engage in an app, there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome to make an app motivating enough to use, such as lack of variation in functionality, instructions and feedback. Our app, Minclusion, was developed from the input obtained from the usability studies.

Keywords: migrants; mobile learning; usability testing; Arabic speaking refugees; mobile application


  • AbuJarour, Safa’A & Hanna Krasnova. 2017. Understanding the role of ICTS in promoting social inclusion: The case of Syrian refugees in Germany. Paper presented at the 25th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Guimarães, Portugal, 5–10 June (pp. 1792–1806). ISBN 978-989-20-7655-3.Google Scholar

  • Ally, Mohamed. 2009. Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press.Google Scholar

  • Arús, Jorge, Pilar Rodríguez-Aranco´n & Cristina Calle-Martínez. 2015. A pedagogic assessment of mobile learning applications. Paper presented at the International Conference on Data Engineering (ICDE 2013), Brisbane, Australia, 8–11 April.Google Scholar

  • Bangor, Aaron, Philip T. Kortum & James T. Miller. 2008. An empirical evaluation of the system usability scale. Intl. Journal of Human–Computer Interaction 24(6). 574–594.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bartram, Lorna, Linda Bradley & Khaled Al-Sabbagh. 2018. Mobile learning with Arabic speakers in Sweden. In: Proceedings of the Gulf Comparative Education Symposium (GCES) in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, 5–11 April, 2018. http://gces.ae/publications/

  • Bernacki, Matthew L., Anita C. Aguilar & James P. Byrnes. 2011. Self-regulated learning and technology-enhanced learning environments: An opportunity-propensity analysis. In Giuliana Dettori & Donatella Persico (eds.), Fostering self-regulated learning through ICT, 27–38. DOI:.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bowler, Leanne, Sherry Koshman, Jung Sun Oh, He Daqing, Bernadette G. Callery, Geoff Bowker & Richard J. Cox. 2011. Issues in user-centered design in LIS. Library Trends 59(4). 721–752.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bradley, Linda, Nataliya Berbyuk Lindström & Sylvana Sofkova Hashemi. 2017. Integration and language learning of newly arrived migrants using mobile technology. Journal of Interactive Media in Education 2017(1). 1–9.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Brooke, John. 1996. SUS - A quick and dirty usability scale. In P. W. Jordan, B. Thomas, B. A. Weerdmeester & A. L. McClelland (eds.), Usability evaluation in industry, 189–194. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar

  • Burston, Jack. 2015. Twenty years of MALL project implementation: A meta-analysis of learning outcomes. ReCALL 27(1). 4–20.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Cabral, Estêvão & Marilyn Martin-Jones. 2017. Moving north, navigating new work worlds, and re-mooring: Language and other semiotic resources in the migration trajectories of East Timorese in the UK. In Caroline Kerfoot & Kenneth Hyltenstam (eds.), Entangled discourses: South-north orders of visibility. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Carvajal, Laura, Ana M. Moreno, Maria-Isabel Sanchez-Segura & Ahmed Seffah. 2013. Usability through software design. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 39(11). 1582–1596.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Chapelle, Carol. 1998. Multimedia CALL: Lessons to be learned from research in instructed SLA. Language Learning & Technology 2(1). 22–34.Google Scholar

  • Godwin-Jones, Robert. 2011. Mobile apps for language learning. Language Learning & Technology 15(2). 2–11.Google Scholar

  • Grier, Rebecca A., Aaron Bangor, Philip Kortum & Camille S. Peres. 2013. The system usability scale: Beyond standard usability testing. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 57th Annual Meeting 2013. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hannam, Kevin, Mimi Sheller & John Urry. 2006. Editorial: Mobilities, immobilities and moorings. Mobilities 1(1). 1–22.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Heil, Catherne R., Jason S. Wu, Joey J. Lee & Torben Schmidt. 2016. A review of mobile language learning applications: Trends, challenges and opportunities. The EUROCALL Review 24(2). 32–50.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hortman, Patricia & Cheryl Thompson. 2005. Evaluation of user interface satisfaction of a clinical outcomes database. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing 23(6). 301–307.Google Scholar

  • Houmb, Hilde S., Shareeful Islam, Eric Knauss, Jan Jürjens & Kurt Schneider. 2010. Eliciting security requirements and tracing them to design: An integration of common criteria, heuristics, and UMLsec. Requirements Engineering 15(1). 63–93.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kaufmann, Katja. 2018. Navigating a new life: Syrian refugees and their smartphones in Vienna. Information, Communication & Society 21(6). 882–898.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes. 2007. Mobile usability in educational contexts: What have we learnt? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 8(2). 1–16.Google Scholar

  • Lee, Cheng-Yuan & Todd S. Cherner. 2015. A comprehensive evaluation rubric for assessing instructional apps. Journal of Information Technology Education 14. 21–53.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Maitland, Carleen & Xu Ying. 2015. A social informatics analysis of refugee mobile phone use: A case study of Za’atari Syrian refugee camp. Paper presented at The 43rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy Paper (TPRC), Arlington, Virginia, 25–27 September.Google Scholar

  • Majhanovich, Suzanne & Marie-Christine Deyrich. 2017. Language learning to support active social inclusion: Issues and challenges for lifelong learning. International Review of Education 63(4). 435–452.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Mühlenbock, Katarina H. & Sofie Johansson Kokkinakis. 2012. SweVoc – A Swedish vocabulary resource for CALL. Paper presented at the SLTC 2012 workshop on NLP for CALL, Lund, 25 October.Google Scholar

  • Mynatt, Elizabeth D. & Wendy A. Rogers. 2001. Developing technology to support the functional independence of older adults. Ageing International 27(1). 24–41.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Ngan, Hong Y., Anna Lifanova, Juliane Jarke & Jan Broer. 2016. Refugees welcome: Supporting informal language learning and integration with a gamified mobile application. In Katrien Verbert, Mike Sharples & Tomaž Klobučar (eds.), Adaptive and adaptable learning, 521–524. Paper presented at the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (EC-TEL), Lyon, France, 13–16 September.Google Scholar

  • Nielsen, Jakob. 1994. Usability engineering. Cambridge MA: Academic Press Inc.Google Scholar

  • Rosell-Aguilar, Fernando. 2017. State of the app: A taxonomy and framework for evaluating language learning mobile applications. Calico Journal 34(2). 243–258.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Samers, Michael & Michael Collyer. 2016. Migration. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Schreieck, Maximilian, Jonas Zitzelsberger, Sebastian Siepe, Manuel Wiesche & Helmut Krcmar. 2017. Supporting refugees in everyday life–Intercultural design evaluation of an application for local information. Paper presented at Twenty First Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems, Langkawi, Malaysia, 16–20 July.Google Scholar

  • Sha, Li, Chee-Kit Looi, Wenli Chen & Baohui Zhang. 2012. Understanding mobile learning from the perspective of self-regulated learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 28. 366–378.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sweeney, Paul & Caroline Moore. 2012. Mobile apps for learning vocabulary: Categories, evaluation and design criteria for teachers and developers. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALLT) 2(4). 1–16.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). n.d. What is a refugee? Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/what-is-a-refugee.html

  • Walker, Harry. 2011. Evaluating the effectiveness of apps for mobile devices. Journal of Special Education Technology 26(4). 59–63.Google Scholar

  • Wall, Melissa, Madeline O. Campbell & Dana Janbek. 2015. Syrian refugees and information precarity. New Media & Society 19(2). 240–254.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Wichansky, Anna M. 2000. Usability testing in 2000 and beyond. Ergonomics 43(7). 998–1006.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Zhang, Dongsong & Boonlit Adipat. 2005. Challenges, methodologies, and issues in the usability testing of mobile applications. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 18(3). 293–308.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Khaled Walid Al-Sabbagh

Khaled Walid Al-Sabbagh is a PhD student at University of Gothenburg, Department of Computer Science and Engineering. His work focuses on using Machine learning to accelerate the adoption of novel approaches in Software Engineering.

Linda Bradley

Linda Bradley is an Assistant Professor at University of Gothenburg, Department of Education, Communication and Learning at the Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning unit. Her research focuses on mobile and digital learning and how technology is situated in formal and informal settings.

Lorna Bartram

Lorna Bartram is a linguist, specialised in Arabic and intercultural communication. Her work is focused on intercultural communication, migration and language in health care settings. Currently she works at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Published Online: 2019-07-18

Published in Print: 2019-07-26

Citation Information: Language Learning in Higher Education, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 71–95, ISSN (Online) 2191-6128, ISSN (Print) 2191-611X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2019-0004.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in