Perceptions of Chinese university students and language teachers of a WeChat-based MALL program during the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of a Chinese university

Year: 2021

Author: Li, Fan

Type of paper: Individual Paper

COVID-19 has brought tremendous changes to learning and teaching practices in higher education worldwide. Second/foreign language learning in Chinese tertiary institutions has undergone a transition from a traditional way of classroom learning and teaching to an online mode. WeChat, a popular smartphone-based social application in China, has provided promising opportunities to implement mobile-assisted language learning (MALL). However, it remains unclear how Chinese university students and language teachers would respond to WeChat adoption for English language learning and teaching during these changing times. This study used a mixed-methods approach, with questionnaires and vocabulary tests as the quantitative methods, and interviews as the qualitative method. A hundred and thirty-three students and ten language teachers from a university in Northern China participated in this study. Three research questions were asked: (1) How would Chinese university students and language teachers perceive using WeChat for English language learning and teaching? (2) What were the students and language teachers’ evaluations on the self-developed WeChat-based MALL program? (3) What was the effectiveness of the program in facilitating the students’ vocabulary learning outcomes? The quantitative results reveal the participants well embraced WeChat for English language learning and teaching during the pandemic, and they held positive views on the WeChat-based MALL program, regarding program design, learning experiences, and learning manners. However, initial analysis of the test results showed a discouraging decline in the students’ scores, which proposed more questions on the effectiveness of the program. The thematic analysis of the interviews indicates the participants called for self-control enhancement, audio materials, rich resources, and entertaining contents. Overall, the findings revealed a welcoming and positive attitude towards the adoption of the program, but little practical result on students’ learning outcomes. The findings indicate the need for enhancement of the program, including interactivity, engagement, concentration, and technical supports, for more effective future adoption of such MALL pedagogy in similar contexts.