An investigation of the influence of intrinsic motivation on students’ intention to use mobile devices in language learning


This study examines the relationships among intrinsic motivation, critical variables related to technology adoption, and students’ behavioral intention in mobile-assisted language learning (MALL). To test the hypothesized model through a path analysis, 169 survey responses were collected from undergraduate students who were foreign language learners of English in a Chinese research university. The results indicated that although intrinsic motivation did not have a direct influence on students’ behavioral intention in MALL, it had a positive influence on students’ behavioral intention through the two intervening variables, perceived usefulness and task technology fit. Perceived ease of use, however, was not associated with students’ behavioral intention directly, nor was it predicted by intrinsic motivation. The findings suggested proper instructional design that is aligned with and supports the language learning task was important to increase students’ behavioral intention to adopt mobile devices for language learning.

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This work was sponsored by Peak Discipline Construction Project of Education at East China Normal University, and the Project of Science & Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality of China (Grant No. 17DZ2281800).

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Appendix: Survey items used in the study

Part I

What kind of mobile devices do you owe?

  • iPhone

  • Android Phone

  • Windows Phone

  • Blackberry Phone

  • Other Smart Phone (Please specify)

  • iPod Touch

  • iPad

  • Android Tablet

  • Other Tablet (Please specify)

Typically, how much time do you spend every day using your mobile devices for the following purposes?

(No use, rare use, about 5–10 min, about 11–30 min, about 31–60 min, about 1–2 h, about 2–3 h, more than 3 h)

  • Reading news

  • Checking emails

  • Playing music

  • Playing games

  • Watching movies

  • Shopping

  • Social networking (e.g. Wechat, QQ, Weibo)

  • Other (optional: please specify if you use mobile devices for other purposes

Part II

Rating scales Strongly disagree, disagree, somewhat disagree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat agree, agree, strongly agree

Intrinsic motivation (11 items)

Please rate the following items regarding your motivation for English learning

  • Interest/enjoyment

    • I enjoy learning English very much

    • Learning English is fun.

    • I would describe English learning as very interesting.

    • I thought English learning is quite enjoyable.

  • Perceived competence

    • I think I am pretty good at English.

    • I felt pretty competent in English.

    • I am satisfied with my English language proficiency.

    • I was pretty skilled at English language related learning tasks.

  • Effort/importance

    • I put a lot of effort into English language learning.

    • I try very hard to learn English.

    • It is important for me to learn English well.

Perceived usefulness (5 items)

How useful do you think that mobile devices is for English learning?

  • Using mobile devices improves my ability to learn English.

  • Using mobile devices for English learning makes learning more accessible.

  • Using mobile devices for English learning makes learning more fun and engaging.

  • Using mobile devices for English learning helps improve my English.

  • Mobile devices are useful for my English learning.

Task technology fit (4 items)

In your opinion, would mobile devices work well for you to learn English?

  • I think that using mobile devices would be well suited for the way I like to learn English.

  • Mobile devices would be a good medium to provide the way I like to learn English.

  • Using mobile devices would fit well for the way I like to learn English.

  • I think that using mobile devices would be a good way to learn English.

Perceived ease of use (4 items)

How easy is it for you to use mobile devices for English learning?

  • I don’t have any problems learning about the features of the English learning applications/tools on my mobile device(s).

  • My interaction with these tools/applications is clear and understandable.

  • I believe that the English learning applications/tools on my mobile device(s) are easy to use.

  • I believe that the English learning applications/tools on my mobile device(s) are easy to operate.

Behavioral intention

  • I will continue using mobile devices for English language learning.

  • I will use mobile devices on a regular basis for English language learning in the future.

Part III


  • Male

  • Female

Age: ___

Major: ___

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Sun, Y., Gao, F. An investigation of the influence of intrinsic motivation on students’ intention to use mobile devices in language learning. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 1181–1198 (2020).

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  • Mobile assisted language learning
  • Path analysis
  • Motivation
  • Higher education