In recent years, mobile applications (apps) have been increasingly used and investigated as a vocabulary learning approach. Despite the extensive use of commercial English as a Foreign Language (EFL) vocabulary learning apps in China, there is a lack of a review of these apps for a systematic understanding of the components and usefulness of app-assisted vocabulary learning. To fill this knowledge gap, this study presents a systematic review of 15 EFL vocabulary learning apps that were most downloaded in China, focusing on how these apps help students develop word knowledge. The results of this study showed that most apps enabled students to access word knowledge through translating words into their native language. Notably, word knowledge was usually presented through text-plus-image and text-plus-image-plus-audio. Most of these mobile apps provided sentence examples as vocabulary learning materials. Many of these apps were integrated with game elements, especially in interactivity or feedback systems and reward systems. Based on the review results, we have provided three recommendations to vocabulary learning app developers concerning the use of video for the input of word knowledge, the efficiency of vocabulary learning, and the integration of more game elements.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The work described in this paper was supported by the Katie Shu Sui Pui Charitable Trust ²Academic Publication Fellowship (KSPF2019-01).
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- English as a foreign language
- Gamified learning
- Mobile learning
- Vocabulary learning