Abstract—Embedded in interactive and participatory Web 2.0 applications, the complex experiences of English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in the digital age have triggered considerable interest in mobile-assisted language learning (MALL). Abundant research notwithstanding, much remains to be explored in MALL, leaving unknown the multifaceted effects of specific technological applications on various aspects of learning. Placed in China’s higher education context, the present mixed-methods study characterised by an exploratory sequential design intends to fill this gap by focusing on TikTok use in EFL learning. The initial qualitative study indicated EFL learners’ contrasting perceptions of TikTok use in formal learning, centring on its possible effects on global language proficiency, speaking proficiency and affective learning typified by motivation for general language learning, motivation to speak English volitionally and willingness to communicate. Further quantitative research demonstrated that MALL, wherein TikTok was used to supplement classroom-based teaching, did not exert the profound effects on language learning as suggested by the qualitative participants and in previous literature and that learners were less motivated for English learning and communication, though their extrinsic motivation in speaking English increased. Despite the contradiction between these findings with previous ones, this preliminary study is assumed to be significant as it necessitates a critical attitude towards MALL in general and TikTok-assisted EFL learning in particular, encouraging researchers to re-examine these issues in different socio-educational contexts and urging educators to ponder whether it is sensible to implement MALL with the assistance of digital applications, and if so, how to make it as efficacious as anticipated.
Index Terms—Mobile-assisted language learning, web 2.0 tools, English language education, English as a foreign language, TikTok.
Hengzhi Hu is with the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia (e-mail: email@example.com).
Kehan Du is with Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia, and School of International Education, Henan University of Engineering, China (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).