Interaction patterns in Whatsapp conversation in EFL classroom: pedagogical implications

  • Pir Suhail Ahmed Sarhandi School of Higher Education Studies, University of Free State, South Africa
  • Jabreel Asghar Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE
  • Ali Ahmad Abidi University of Calgary
Keywords: WhatsApp, MALL, Pedagogical instructions, EFL, Conversational Theory


Two corpora of online conversation on a mobile phone application Whatsapp by two EFL groups were analysed to examine the types and quality of online interaction in EFL context. The analysis focused on three main categories, i.e. nature of interaction, quality of interaction and quality of language of interaction, to assess if using the application in classroom setting provided enhanced learning experience with greater support and exposure to target language. We categorised interaction types in the corpora to determine the variety of interaction, and used the numerical data to scaffold descriptive analysis of the quality of interaction as well as language. Analysis of the corpora revealed that the participants preferred using the application more for administrative communication, rather than discussing the subject matter and meta-language, mainly due to unplanned use of the application, and the students therefore missing the opportunity to process the target language in real life. The findings referred to conversational theory in relation to theoretical and pedagogical implication of using Whatsapp more effectively, for enhanced learning opportunities in EFL classroom.


Author Biography

Pir Suhail Ahmed Sarhandi, School of Higher Education Studies, University of Free State, South Africa

Sarhandi is a Ph.D. in the area of mobile learning in ESL. His areas of research are teaching technology, mobile learning, computer assisted language learning and teaching methods.


Ahmed, P. S. (2012). The way we teach, the way they learn. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1554-1557. Retrieved from 09 March 2015

Ahmed, P. S., Kasi, F., & Nasseef, O. A. (2013). Mobile Phones: Under-utilized Pedagogical Devices. Life Science Journal, 10(4), 3128-3131.

Alsaleem, B, I. A. (2014). The Effect of "WhatsApp" Electronic Dialogue Journaling on Improving Writing Vocabulary Word Choice and Voice of EFL Undergraduate Saudi Students. 21st Century Academic Forum Conference Proceedings, Conference at Harvard. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Jabreel/Desktop/DEANSHIP%20SUPPORT%20COMMITTE/ARTICLES/WHatsapp%20for%20vocabulary.pdf 02 April 2015

Al-Shehri, S. (2011). Context in our pockets: Mobile phones and social networking as tools of contextualising language learning. In 10th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning. Beijing, China. Retrieved from 02 April 2015

Amer, M. A. (2010). Idiomobile for learners of English: A study of learners' usage of a mobile learning application for learning idioms and collocations (Ph.D.). Indiana University of Pennsylvania, United States -- Pennsylvania. Retrieved from 02 April 2015

Beatty, K. (2013). Teaching & Researching: Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Routledge.

Burston, J. (2013). Mobile-assisted language learning: A selected annotated bibliography of implementation studies 1994-2012. Language Learning & Technology, 17(3), 15 7 - 22 5.

Chen, C.-M., & Hsu, S.-H. (2008). Personalized Intelligent Mobile Learning System for Supporting Effective English Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 153-180.

Chinnery, G. M. (2006). Emerging Technologies: Going to the MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning. Language Learning & Technology, 10(1), 9-16.

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). The second educational revolution: How technology is transforming education again. New York: Teachers College Press.

Chun, D. (2001). L2 reading on the web: Strategies for accessing information in hypermedia.

Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(5), 367-403.

Dempster, P. (2011). Exposing reflection on accommodation and assimilation in mobile language learning. In Proceedings 10th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn) (pp. 358-360). Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. Retrieved from 17 12 March 2015March 2015

Diaz, V. (2010). Mobile teaching and learning: Engaging students and measuring impact. (pp. 1-83). Presented at the ECAR Symposium, EDUCAUSE'Learning Inititative. Retrieved from 02 April 2015

Dunlap, J. C. (2006). Using guided reflective journaling activities to capture students' changing perceptions. TechTrends, 50(6), 20-26.

Elias, T. (2011). Universal instructional design principles for mobile learning. International Review of

Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(2), 143-156. Retrieved from 11 April 2015

Farah Habib Chanchary, & Islam, S. (2011). Mobile learning in Saudi Arabia-Prospects and challenges. Retrieved from 16 March 2015.

Fogg, P. (2010). The 24-7 professor - what to do when the home is just another word for office. Chronical of Higher Education, 54 (21, B12. Grice, H.P. (1989). Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press.

Heift, T (2002). Learner control and error correction in ICALL: Browsers, peekers, and adamants. CALICO Journal, 19(2), 295-313.

Herrington, A. Herrington, J. & Mantei, J. (2009). Design principles for mobile learning. In J. Herrington, A. Herrington, J. Mantei, I. Olney & B. Ferry (Eds.), New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile learning in higher education (pp. 129-138). Wollongong: University of Wollongong. Retrieved from 26 March 2015.

Kobayashi, C. (2006). The use of pocket electronic dictionaries as compared with printed dictionaries by Japanese learners of English (Ph.D.). The Ohio State University, United States -- Ohio. Retrieved from 09 April 2015

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2009). Will mobile learning change language learning? ReCALL, 21(02), 157. Retrieved from 08 February 2015.

Man, K, C. (2014). Word's Up with WhatsApp: The Use of Instant Messaging in Consciousness-raising of Academic Vocabulary, Paper presented in 23rd MELTA and 12th Asia TEFL International Conference 28 - 30 August 2014, at Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching

Mentira. (n.d.). Retrieved from 114 March 2015.

Mork, C.-M. (2009). Using Twitter in EFL Education. JALT CALL Journal, 5(3), 41-56.

Nassuora, A. B. (2013). Students Acceptance of Mobile Learning for Higher Education in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Learning Management Systems, 1(1), 1-9.

Ophir, E., Nass, C., & Wagner, A.D. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(37), 15583-15587. Retrieved from 26 November 2012.

Pask, G. (1975). Conversation, Cognition, and Learning. New York: Elsevier.

Pegrum, M. (2014). Mobile Learning: Languages, Literacies and Cultures. Palgrave Macmillan.

Rinehart, D. L. (2012). Students using mobile phones in the classroom: Can the phones increase content learning (M.Sc.).

California State University, Long Beach, United States -- California. Retrieved from 13 December 2014.

Seliaman, M. E., & Al-Turki, M. S. (2012). Mobile Learning Adoption in Saudi Arabia. International Science Index, 6(9), 1-3.

Stockwell, G. (2010). Using mobile phones for vocabulary activities: Examining the effect of the platform. Language Learning & Technology, 14(2), 95-110.

Stockwell, G., & Hubbard, P. (2013). Some emerging principles for mobile-assisted language learning.

Traxler, J. (2005). DEFINING MOBILE LEARNING. Presented at the IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning 2005. Retrieved from 11 April 2015.

Traxler, J., & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2007). Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers. Routledge.