A Comparative Review of Mobile and Non-Mobile Games for Language Learning

Fan SU, Di ZOU, Haoran XIE, Fu Lee WANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have increasingly investigated the effectiveness of both mobile and non-mobile digital game-based language learning. To gain an in-depth understanding of the differences in the effectiveness of mobile and non-mobile games, we compared studies from January 2000 to August 2020 investigating mobile game-based language learning (MGBLL) and non-mobile game-based language learning (NMGBLL). Sixty-four articles were analyzed from four aspects: game types, game elements, target languages, and learning outcomes. The results showed that (a) gamification, simulation games, and immersive games were applied most; (b) all games possessed the game elements of goals or rules; (c) the most investigated target languages were English and Chinese; and (d) the most discussed learning outcomes were language acquisition and psychological/affective state. The similarities and differences between MGBLL and NMGBLL were also identified. The current review provides an overview and in-depth analysis of mobile and non-mobile games for language learning, guiding practitioners to select appropriate digital games to cater to specific language teaching goals. Future directions of research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number4
Early online date23 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Teaching Development Grant (102489) of Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • mobile games
  • non-mobile games
  • digital games
  • language learning


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