Reality versus the virtual world: using mobile phones as teaching aids

Thierry Jullien

Thierry Jullien is an experienced English teacher with a background in public and private education. His skill areas include curriculum development, teacher training and digital learning. In this article he discusses the use of mobile phones in the classroom and provides a lesson plan showing how you can integrate mobile technology into your teaching practice.

“It is important to encourage internet communication, as well as the use of audio or visual documents. This helps learners broaden their minds, become more thoughtful and respectful towards others and gain a more positive sense of critical thinking.” (Reform of colleges for the teaching of languages)

The use of mobile phones as teaching aids in class is a divisive subject. Some disapprove of the near constant engagement students have with their phones and would argue the classroom is one area to emphasise face to face interaction. Others believe that using apps as learning tools makes the content easily accessible and relatable to the students. They would advocate using the technology as it’s available and effective.

Teachers have many different approaches to this issue but if you are keen to integrate mobile technology into your teaching practice, here is an exercise that can help you.


Students download the short video ‘Titanic Memoriesonto their mobile phones.

They each receive a Virtual Reality (VR) headset.


Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing.


Students are asked to work on their own so they improve their listening skills autonomously.

They are each given a worksheet containing 3 main activities and the QR code linking to the video script. The QR code saves printing and handing out worksheets and enables the students to practice again later.

* Reading tasks relate to the subtitles in the first part of the video.

* Listening tasks relate to the audio in the video.

Students are given half an hour to complete the tasks on their own.

The students are then allowed to compare their answers, which may be helpful for those who struggled with the tasks. This encourages pair work interaction in English and will prepare them for checking their work collectively. 

Work is finally checked orally with the teacher as a class.

Scan this QR code to access the worksheet and video material.


Students build self confidence by practicing their language skills independently. The virtual reality is engaging and creates an immersive and unique sensorial experience for the students.

If you want to read more on the use of mobile technology in the classroom, why not check out Nik Peachey’s Helping students control their mobile devices.



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