Sensors and Apps for Languages in Smart Areas


SALSA explored how smartphones can be used to prompt language learning.


Milton Keynes has a diverse population; like many cities it includes young people who have migrated for work and study and do not have English as a first language. SALSA explored how smartphones can be used in conjunction with bluetooth beacons fixed in key locations around the town to prompt language learning, for example at the railway station, in the council's offices, and on buses.

First, the project surveyed language learners to understand their use of smartphones to support language learning, and mapped their current use of language learning apps around Milton Keynes to identify critical spaces for the provision of contextual language learning support. Second, the SALSA developed an app with relevant content triggered by beacons  to prompt highly contextual language learning support in key locations. This was trialled across Milton Keynes with 14 learners to understand the efficacy of the pedagogical and technical approach and its potential for future roll-out.

The role of IET

Mark Gaved led the OU team; SALSA also employed a contract researcher, Alice Peasgood of APHE Consulting, and content production was subcontracted to Pearson Publishing (now Anspear).