Stephen Spanos’ lesson

MALL Sample Lesson Plan

Setting: Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Summer English course for students preparing to enroll in US universities. The course goals are to introduce students to life at a US university and to review and improve their English skills. Learner English proficiency is mostly intermediate-advanced. Learners are from various countries and L1 backgrounds.

Lesson context: This lesson is the second of the course. The first lesson introduced students to the course and each other. The teacher explained how to access the private course website and twitter account and post photos, videos, text, and links. The students practiced vocabulary and linguistic features students might face during the homework assignment as they looked at a sample. The teacher assigned the homework for this lesson.

Objectives – learners will:

  • Practice presentational language skills
  • Learn and share vocabulary items relevant to life on campus
  • Learn about popular places for students on and near campus
  • Demonstrate their spoken English proficiency
Previous lesson’s HW: pairs of students were assigned a location on or near campus (e.g. student center, late night on-campus diner) to visit, take pictures of, and research basic information about. For guidance, ss were handed a sheet with questions to answer (e.g. what ss can do there, hours open, if they would recommend it to the class) and a sample review of a location.
Time What students are doing What teachers are doing Materials What this activity accomplishes
5min Students discuss in groups their experiences, including challenges and surprises Monitoring the discussions and helping ss if they have any questions none -Allows students to reflect on their assignment

-allows ss to activate their schema

20min -Listen to the teacher

-ask questions to clarify class assignment

-explains the in-class assignment: that ss will share the info they found about their location to the class using the photos, text, and research as support. They will have 3 min each

-teacher works with class as a whole to work step-by-step to create a sample presentation using the hw assignment sample


-TV monitor connected to computer


-explains class assignment to ss

-provides an example so they have a framework for their presentation

-scaffolds the lesson so students can make choices on their own

-ss become aware of linguistic items teachers uses in presentation

15 min -ss work in their assigned pairs to plan their presentation, using materials gathered during hw assignment to support their speech -helping ss with questions they might have


-ss should have computer access -allows ss to practice speaking and listening skills as they condense and analyze information

-allows ss to have impact on class content

20min Ss present their information to the class and give their opinion on whether the location is important for fellow ss

-other ss listen and take notes

-listening, taking notes on ss errors and speaking proficiency -TV screen with computer hookup -provides ss with important information about popular locations on and near campus

-provides teacher with diagnosis of ss speaking proficiencies

-allows ss to practice presentational speaking skills

-allows ss to learn and share vocab items relevant to campus life

5min -listen to teacher’s feedback

-give own opinions/feedback on class assignment, such as successes, difficulties, surprises



-Teacher provides feedback on presentations as a whole

-revisits sample review

-asks ss for their opinions on what they learned from presentation

-TV screen with computer hookup -allows ss to reflect on presentation and what they learned

-allows teacher to understand what was beneficial or not for ss

5 min -ss listen and ask questions about hw assignment -explains hw assignment for next class (to write review with photos and links on class website for future access)

-refers to sample review


TV screen with computer hookup -allows ss to create an authentic, useful, live document for themselves and future students

-connects next hw assignment to previous hw assignment and class presentation

-ensures ss have understanding of hw assignment


Final Project Rationale

My lesson plan includes two MALL activities: (1) students use their cell phones to take photos, record videos, and type notes while visiting sites on and near campus and (2) students upload and edit their information to a class website which they can access on mobile devices. Regardless of the use of MALL in the lesson plan, I wanted the class to be learner-centered, an approach that Pegrum (2014) writes “focuses on students’ autonomy, agency, and potentially their identity development” (p. 92).  MALL enables me to shape my class with a learner-centered approach, as Burston (2014) writes that although the most prevalent implementation of MALL reflects “a behaviorist, teacher-centered, transmission model of instruction,” the technology “is equally capable of supporting more innovative constructivist, collaborative, learner-centered instruction” (p. 344). I kept Burston’s point in mind while deciding if and where I wanted to use MALL in my lesson plan, and I believe that the lesson’s incorporation of MALL does encourage a learner-centered, collaborative lesson. Students are integral in creating and shaping class content, such as the information that they present to their fellow students and what they choose to include on the class website. This does not mean that as a teacher I will sit back and let the students do whatever they want. I will act as a guide for them, preparing scaffolding activities and activating learners’ schema so that they can practice language in ways that are most beneficial to them.

I chose to use the MALL activities that I did because, as defined by Puentedura’s (2006) SAMR model, their inclusion in my lesson is transformative. The activity where students visit locations to take photos, videos and notes, and then upload them to the class website is modification, where technology allows for significant task redesign. Students could have visited the sites, written notes on paper and taken photos and videos on a traditional camera, but they would not have been able to transfer them to the website in real-time, as well as make edits in the future on the website. This shift to a live website that the students can access with their own mobile devices in the future is truly transformative.

The six ecosystems of MALL shaped my decision as I decided which technology to use and how students would use them. Luckily, I could assume that I would not be restrained by technological issues because the class context was at a US university with students who would all (or at least over half) have access to smartphones. Service in the area is strong and wifi is available on campus and at many locations off campus.

MALLs influence on acquisition influenced my decision, as I wanted students to receive authentic input from locations on campus, notice certain vocabulary words that they would need to know to integrate on campus (which might lead to increased intake), and then use that knowledge to produce output for their fellow students during class presentations. This in turn would increased the learners’ interlanguage, which would be built upon as students entered, edited, and read information on the website. Such dynamic and rapid interaction between classmates likely would not have been possible without MALL.

Pedagogically, the MALL activities allowed me to monitor student activity easier than on paper, as well as create a class atmosphere where students are more involved and invested in the content. Much of this links with the socio-cultural ecosystem, since learners could use Twitter and a website, something that mirrors authentic (even if structured and sheltered) use. And as I mentioned above regarding the learner-centered class, students can maintain and shape their personal identities while they are in class. Combining in-class language practice with activities that students would normally do outside the classroom (such as eat in the dining hall or play video games in the student center) reduces the distinction between learner identities in the classroom and those in the real world.

Regarding the linguistic ecosystem, the MALL activities in my lesson allowed students to effectively learn and practice new vocabulary items integral to their lives on campus, as well as identifying the genre of online reviews, specifically at the discourse level. One weakness of my activity choice might be the lack of grammar instruction using MALL, though I could teach that in the classroom. Additionally, I would expect that students would use collective scaffolding and negotiation of meaning to improve their grammar while working in pairs. And since the learners are at an intermediate-advanced level, with grammatical accuracy assumed to be stronger than their fluency, grammar instruction was not my main goal in this lesson. Rather, it was to encourage students to explore their campus, learn about a location, share their findings (along with necessary vocabulary) with the class, and write a more structured and genre-specific review on the class website, which they and other students can use in the future.


  • Burston, J. (2014). MALL: The pedagogical challenges. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(4), 344-357.
  • Pegrum, M. (2014). What language to teach with mobile devices.  In  Mobile Learning.  Palgrave-MacMillan. 127-152.
  • Puentedura, R. (2006). Transformation, technology, and education.