The use of mobile phones and other portable devices is beginning to have an impact on how learning takes place in many disciplines and contexts, including language learning. Learners who are not dependent on access to fixed computers can engage in activities that relate more closely to their current surroundings, sometimes crossing the border between formal and informal learning. This creates the potential for significant change in teaching and learning practices. Taking the broader field of mobile learning as the setting within which developments in mobile-assisted language learning may be understood, the paper argues that an emphasis on mobility can lead to new perspectives and practices. The paper offers reflections on what mobile learning has to offer and considers whether it is likely to change how languages are taught and learnt. ‘Mobile learning’ is not a stable concept; therefore its current interpretations need to be made explicit. Examples of current projects and practices show an affinity between mobile and games-based learning, and can further illuminate what is distinctive and worthwhile about mobile learning.