One of the most common questions I've come across over the last year or so - both from teachers who have asked it, and from speakers and writers who have answered it is 'What is mobile learning?'

One of the most common questions I've come across over the last year or so - both from teachers who have asked it, and from speakers and writers who have answered it is 'What is mobile learning?' (also referred to as m-learning). 

I've always had a very simplistic view of what it is: learners might use their phone, or iPad, or PlayStation Portable, or whatever it might be to use or improve their English. I don't think we need long explanations to understand that. Examples are good though: a teacher might ask their students to talk about a photo on their phone, or to record something for homework. You can find more examples here:

Learners themselves can benefit from guidance with examples too. There are tools to help them - not least the British Council's own learner apps: As a language learner myself though, the best aid I've come across is called Evernote.

If you've not heard of Evernote, I'd recommend trying it out and/or suggesting it to your students. It's not aimed specifically and language learners, but it's really useful. Basically, it allows you to save ideas, texts, examples of language, recordings, photos, etc. on your computer, phone or pretty much any mobile device. Everything is synced, so a photo you take on your phone will also appear on Evernote on your PC. 

For me it's become a way of organising my Polish language learning. I like the tags function, which means if I take a photo or record a friend asking for something in a restuarant, I just tag it 'restuarant' and it I can later on find it when I browse through all items with that tag. It is, I think, like a modern version of vocabulary cards: I remember advising students to write things down on small cards then look at them on the bus or when they had a spare 5 mins. They can do the same much more effectively with Evernote. Try it!


Hi, Rob.Nice piece. I've recently seen an increase in the number of students with smartphones in my classes. Rather than tell them to switch the devices off, I've been trying to help learners to put it to good use (recording vocab, for instance.) When I started to learn English many years ago, Internet was not what it is today and Evernote was not around yet, however my notebook (the traditional paper-based type) and I were inseparable friends for a long time. Here's a interesting read on how someone has manage to blend new-world and old-world technology:,Fernando 

Hi Fernando

Thanks for reading and sharing the link: I tend to agree with Hyatt that writing notes, using notebooks etc is preferable to using a tablet or PC. That's just a personal preference!

EvernoteRather than scan notes though I take photos of them, or of the whiteboard, or even of matching exercises - this one I've attached here for example. So as a learner you can organise not only your notes but also activities and teacher examples as you want. Evernote's strength really is in the ability it gives you to organise and retrieve notes, pictures and recordings. (It's also very useful for teachers wanting to keep a note of what they've done at the end of the class - just take a photo of the board.)

Using phones for making recordings is a great idea too. I was at a workshop last week where Luke Meddings gave a similar example: getting students to record something outside the class (e.g.where they are at a certain time on a certain day) and then using that as a basis for an activity in the next lesson. I reckon that could work pretty well.



Hi Rob!Thank you for the presentation on m-learning!You also advised us to use Digital Fiction websete. Could you give a bit more more details, coz I'm not sure I got the right one, too many come up and you meant something for Primary school classroom.THANKS! It was a very enjoyable lecture, thank you for your help!Masha  

Hi MashaThanks for coming last week and glad you enjoyed it!The example I usually give for digital fiction is Inanimate Alice: It's a really exceptional piece of work which I've used with students. If you google for digital fiction, you'll find lots of references to it as well - this site has some useful links to other examples for you to have a look at: luck!Rob

Hi RobWould love to hear how you used Inanimate Alice. Did you use the ideas suggested for teachers on the website or did you come up with your own? The teachers I've shared it with found it dark, depressing and disturbing. Thanks for introducing me to Evernote which I use now all the time - and not for language learning :)LEO

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