Mobile games for L2 learning: student and teacher perspectives

Satomi Kawaguchi*, Jeremy John Watkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many second language (L2) students use mobile devices for social networking and game play on a daily basis. Therefore interest in the use of mobile games and apps to motivate and inspire such students in second language learning is growing rapidly. This exploratory study investigates perceptions of students and teachers regarding challenges and opportunities for mobile language games and apps for L2 tertiary teaching from a user-centred perspective. A questionnaire was administered to 29 intermediate Japanese L2 students at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, to find out about their current use of digital devices, games and apps both for entertainment and for learning Japanese L2. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine students and four teachers to explore their use of digital content. Each participant performed a cognitive walkthrough of a selection of smartphone-based language-related apps and games to generate further data on user motivation and expectations. Analysis of the questionnaire, interviews, and cognitive walkthroughs indicates a genuine demand from students for mobile language learning games. However, a lack of appropriate digital literacy may prevent some teachers from being effective curators of rapidly evolving digital L2 resources, in spite of their willingness to incorporate mobile games within the curriculum. This study proposes two likely barriers to uptake for L2 games within the formal university curriculum: (a) L2 game development cost and (b) perceived changes to classroom engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalThe International Journal of Technologies in Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2015


  • Mobile Games
  • m-Learning

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