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Title: WhatsApp as a tool for meaning negotiation : the use of web-enabled phones to consolidate vocabulary learning among university students in Saudi Arabia
Author: Batawi, Ghadah Hassan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 1076
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2019
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The present study investigates the collaborative processes whereby learners of English use WhatsApp as a platform on smart phones to acquire new vocabulary. A review of the literature on mobile learning shows that a number of studies (Lu, 2008; Kennedy and Levy, 2008) conclude that vocabulary acquisition can be improved in this way yet fail to show what cognitive and social processes students employ to learn vocabulary and how learning might take place. In an attempt to fill this research gap, this study focusses on a group of 33 Saudi students from the English language department at a university in Saudi Arabia, who took part in an online class using WhatsApp as a tool to learn and use target vocabulary and to facilitate spontaneous interaction. It seeks to understand how teacher-student and student-student 'chats' lead to learning by analyzing the richness of their conversation in order to understand the dynamic of multiple variables to achieve learning. The students received bite-sized vocabulary learning messages and took part in two WhatsApp discussion groups over a period of 5 weeks, in addition to their regular language classes. It also investigates the students' acceptance of learning with the use of mobile phones and their readiness to implement it. The research uses a mixed methods approach, in which both quantitative and qualitative data were obtained, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the participants' vocabulary gain and of their engagement in the process. The WhatsApp chat conversations were analysed in order to understand how learners use this new medium to learn. Findings showed that all students acquired vocabulary but at varying rates. Differences in vocabulary gain are attributed to many factors including variation in frequency and quality of contributions to the WhatsApp discussions, motivation to learn English, acceptance of mobile phones (WhatsApp) as a learning tool, and to individual self-regulation and individual differences.
Supervisor: Wright, Vicky ; Zotzmann, Karin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available