Falling costs of devices and the ubiquity of mobile networks is helping to extend connectivity far down the economic pyramid, and empowering some of the world’s poorest populations to develop skills that can help them surmount the most challenging circumstances. A recent report from the Brookings Institution posted on ReliefWeb, a site focusing on humanitarian efforts worldwide, looked at how teachers are using mobile phones as education tools in refugee camps across Africa. This is just one example of the reach and power of mobile technology for language learning.
“Phones can provide access to resources, information, languages, curriculum, and more,” says the Brookings report. “Tech companies have flooded this space with possibility—new apps, online learning portals, libraries.” The piece goes on to note that the real power that they have observed on the ground, however, is the ability of mobile phones to help teachers working in the camps, who often work with very scant resources.
According to the report, some teachers use their phones while making class presentations. “When it happens that a student asks me a very difficult question that I cannot answer, I will even pretend that I am [going] out for a short call or am going to handle any problem in the office, then I can use my phone to google [the answer],” admits a teacher quoted in the article.
All of this points to the enormous value of mobility in language learning, even at the very basic level. And it suggests that the traditional boundaries that have inhibited the spread of English in some of the world’s poorest regions, including a scarcity of qualified instructors, are rapidly collapsing.
Mobile technology is the key to facilitating the spread of English, from the most rugged quarters of the world to the corridors of elite multinational corporations. Mobile-ready tools and resources can help organizations make the transition to universal Business English, using proven methods that give people the tools they need to participate confidently in conversations with English speakers worldwide.