Exploring Perspectives of Students on Using Mobile Apps to Improve
English Vocabulary Through Youtube Videos: A Comparative Study
Otto Parra
, Edisson Reinozo and María Fernanda Granda
Department of Computer Science, University of Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador
Keywords: The English Vocabulary, Youtube Videos, Spaced-Learning, Multi-Criteria Decision Making.
Abstract: Currently, in countries where the mother tongue is not English language, globalization brings a very important
requirement related with level of English since it facilitates communication in any area, be it, business,
education, tourism, and so on. People need to have a good mastery of the English language, however, if the
mother tongue is different from English, dominating the English language can become a very serious problem.
Under these circumstances, in countries where the mother tongue is not English, educational institutions have
included meaningful learning of English as a second language in their curriculum for many years. Vocabulary
is one of the essential components of any language and it is required get a good level in order to have success
in the process of teaching/learning of the English. Spaced repetition has been widely implemented and
examined in mobile-assisted vocabulary learning as an important learning strategy. In this context, the purpose
of this comparative study was to investigate and compare university students’ perspectives utilizing two
mobile apps to improve English vocabulary in the Language Department at University of Cuenca (Ecuador):
the first application is Slango and the second was chosen applying multi-criteria decision making of a set of
mobile apps with similar features than Slango. Therefore, we did a comparative evaluation of the two mobile
apps in order to evaluate usability by using SUS questionnaire and desirability by using Microsoft Desirability
Test. Results show that Slango has similar features as ReadLang (the second app to compare) when it is used
to improve student English vocabulary using YouTube videos.
In countries where the mother tongue is not English
language, it is presented as a mandatory requirement
in many areas of the society (education, tourism,
business, among others.) to achieve its
internationalization (Vallejo Jiménez et al., 2023),
also, it is even conceived as a differentiation
characteristic to achieve competitiveness. For this
reason, in some sectors of the population there is a
great interest in achieving a mastery of the English
language, to the point that it is the mandatory
language of the curricula of the countries of the
region. However, according to (Cronquist & Fiszbein,
2017) despite the importance of the English language,
educational systems have low English domain levels.
The rapid development of the technology related
to education (Web 2.0 and mobile-assisted learning)
has allowed the emergence of a set of applications
that try to help users learn/practice the English
language (Chen et al., 2020). Along with mobile
technology and applications that allow users to
practice English vocabulary, a well-known
methodology in the educational field called spaced
repetition has been used (Zhang et al., 2022), it is a
learning technique that distributes vocabulary
learning and practice into multiple sessions over a
period of time to optimize learning outcomes, is one
of the most important learning strategies that have
been widely integrated into mobile-assisted
vocabulary learning (Settles & Meeder, 2016).
Some authors claimed that vocabulary learning
might support the skills required to the
communication: listening, speaking, reading, and
writing (e.g. (Yunus & Saifudin Muhamad, 2019),
(A/P Prabha & Abdul Aziz, 2020)). The result showed
that most students claimed that vocabulary learning
strategies such as media, movies, internet materials,
Parra, O., Reinozo, E. and Granda, M.
Exploring Perspectives of Students on Using Mobile Apps to Improve English Vocabulary Through Youtube Videos: A Comparative Study.
DOI: 10.5220/0012741400003687
Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering (ENASE 2024), pages 769-776
ISBN: 978-989-758-696-5; ISSN: 2184-4895
Proceedings Copyright © 2024 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda.
note-taking, and concept mapping were very useful in
their learning process (Schimanke et al., 2013).
Currently, there are some mobile apps and
websites to learn English vocabulary or practice
known vocabulary, using spaced repetition
(Martínez-Valencia et al., 2021). In our research
work, we are interested in mobile apps because the
mobile devices have become useful instruments that
support the teaching and learning process due to their
ubiquity, multi-functionality and Internet
connectivity (Cabrera-Solano et al., 2020).
Then, the mobile apps of interest for our research
work are those that use YouTube videos to help users
improve their English vocabulary by using the spaced
repetition system (SRS) method. The use of YouTube,
social media and other Web 2.0 technologies in
education has been proposed as a tool to engage new
generation students (Sakkir et al., 2020). In this
context, we need two mobile apps to compare
university students’ perspectives utilizing them to
improve English vocabulary. The first mobile app is
Slango, a non-commercial application, it was
developed as part of our research work based on
requirements obtained with university students in
Cuenca (Ecuador). In order to obtain the second mobile
app, we consider five mobile (Table 1) to select the
second mobile app using multi-criteria decision
making (MCDM) method (Soniya et al., 2021).
Table 1: Mobile app selected.
Mobile App name URL
Memrise https://www.memrise.com/app
Quizlet htt
o htt
rosetta Stone https://www.rosettastone.com
readLang https://readlang.com
Under this perspective, our work is justified from
different aspects, thus from a social perspective, the
Slango application represents a contribution to English
language teaching strategies, since it is based on the
SRS method, which is conceived as an evidence-based
learning technique, where new vocabulary is learned
and gives the possibility of reviewing several times,
thereby guaranteeing learning (Seibert Hanson &
Brown, 2019). The comparative evaluation is detailed
in the next sections and it is based on the university
students’ perspective when the usability evaluation and
the desirability test according to Microsoft Desirability
Test (Perez-Medina et al., 2021) are applied.
Therefore. the contribution of this paper is
twofold: (1) Slango, a non-commercial mobile app
for the Android platform, and (2) the comparison of
two mobile apps for learning English Vocabulary
through YouTube videos.
In this section, we include some concepts obtained
from the related literature with our research work.
According to (Tinsley & Board, 2014), the
Spanish language is one of the most widely spoken
language in the world with approximately 400 million
native speakers, however, following globalization,
there are more and more people who learn to speak
English as second language, due to the importance it
has at the academic and professional levels as it is
considered as part of the curriculum from the primary
level to the university.
(García et al., 2016) refer that the teaching of the
English language is going through several
transformations that are awarded to the constant
modification of educational systems, which seek to
innovate, and improve the teaching-learning process,
because to learn a foreign language, it is not enough
to limit yourself to understanding or writing texts, it
is also necessary for the student to develop auditory
and oral expression skills, with this the approach to
teaching includes the use of methods to develop them.
Advances related to the scientific field in
understanding the functioning of human memory
favours the development of models and systems that
allow the application of learning strategies in
computer programs. The curve of oblivion (or
Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting) (Dandan, 2020) and
the spacing effect became the two principles of
cognitive science that are key to the design of spaced
repetition algorithms that are commonly used by
several applications. This curve refers to the ease with
which you can forget the more time passes, if this
applied to education implies that, from the data
received by a student, there is less probability than
remember in a larger time period, which is why it
must be reinforced by repetitions over time, which is
called spaced learning or effect (Palomares, 2022).
(Wozniak, 2018) points out that the concept of
spaced repetition is an intuitive tradition with a
greater probability of remembering information when
a content review is carried out during a longer period
of time and in increasingly spaced intervals in time.
On the other hand, if it is necessary to select a
product/service from a set of alternatives based on a
set of characteristics that can be established and that
will help in the selection process, it is possible to use
the method called MCDM. It is the process of
determining the best solution to problems that are
criteria that commonly arise in everyday life (Soniya
et al., 2021). MCDM is the selective process of
finding a decision, gathering information, and
evaluating alternative outcomes. In MCDM, there are
ENASE 2024 - 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering
some main methods: TOPSIS, AHP, PRAGMA,
SMART, etc. (Taherdoost & Madanchian, 2023). In
our research work, we are focused on TOPSIS. The
main idea of this technique, the preferred alternative
is the one with the closest to the positive ideal
solution and the further to the negative ideal solution
(Chakraborty, 2022).
Slango is a mobile app implemented in our
research work using Domain Driven Design (DDD)
approach (Evans, 2003) because it allows the
development of an mobile app that is extensible and
maintainable. DDD is nothing more than a collection
of principles and design patterns that allow the
development of complex systems. The mobile app
was developed to allow users to learn vocabulary in
English through YouTube videos. In the design
process, we consider the user-centred design and
define the user PERSONA with the aim of being able
to create representations of the users that the app will
have. The objective of these representations is to
generalize and identify the types of users of Slango.
Regarding ReadLang, is a multi-platform web
application designed with mobiles and tablets in mind
that helps students in understanding the reading text
of a foreign language. Each language consists of
several chapters and each chapter also has many
options which help to learn in a fun way. Reading the
text accompanied by the available translations of
words and phrases. This platform also has exercises
in the form of flash cards that can help learners in
remembering vocabulary lists in reading text. The use
of the Readlang is quite simple and easy to use and
can be accessed anywhere with an adequate internet
connection, either through smartphones or laptops
(Magfirah et al., 2022).
By means of a focus group session, the researchers
involved in the research work decided the features to
consider when someone requires to select a mobile
app to learn English vocabulary by using YouTube
videos. The list of mobile app features (Table 2) can
be summarized as follows:
i. Cost: we consider two options: (a) it specifies
how much cost the license of the app, and (b)
there is a free version of the app.
ii. Vocabulary manager: a component of the app
which permits that the user can manage the
vocabulary revised.
iii. Integration with YouTube: it is important
because in our research work, we consider
YouTube as required to practice vocabulary.
iv. Easy to use: students and teachers should use
the software without help and independently.
Error message must be clear and the system
should recover after failure.
v. Use spaced repetition: the software uses this
method to learn the English vocabulary.
vi. Usable and portable: the software should run
on any mobile device using any web browser.
In order to apply TOPSIS, we consider the
aforementioned five mobile app which use YouTube
videos to practice English vocabulary (Table 1). The
selection of the mobile apps and their features was
carried out through Web searches (Table 2).
In order to apply TOPSIS, in the process, we need
the following data:
a) decision matrix (Zaini et al., 2015), a nxm
numeric matrix (m alternatives - the number
of mobile apps - and n criterions) (Table 3).
b) the weights vector, a numeric vector with
length equal to number of columns in
decision matrix for weights of criterions
(Table 4).
c) A character vector of "+" and "-" signs for the
way that each criterion influences on the
The weights assigned to each feature were
determined in the aforementioned focus group where
each of the researchers who participating in a focus
group assigned a value to each feature included. The
weights assigned to each feature are included in the
Table 4, according to the importance of each feature
in the selection of a mobile app. Then, TOPSIS is
applied using R Studio obtaining the second mobile
app. The results obtained are:
1. readLang
2. Memrise,
3. Duolingo,
4. Quizlet
5. Rosetta stone
The results shows that ReadLang is the app
selected to use in the comparative evaluation.
English language is presented as a mandatory
requirement in many areas of the society to reach its
internationalization and it is a differentiation
characteristic to achieve competitiveness.
Exploring Perspectives of Students on Using Mobile Apps to Improve English Vocabulary Through Youtube Videos: A Comparative Study
Table 2: Mobile app with their features.
Feature/app Cost of
Integration with
Easy to use Use spaced
Usability and
Memrise V V V V V V
Quizlet V V X V X V
Duolingo V V X V V V
Rosetta Stone V X X V V V
readLang V V V V V V
Table 3: Decision matrix.
Feature/app Cost of
Integration with
Easy to use Use spaced
Usability and
memrise 20 20 20 20 20 20
quizlet 10 10 0 10 0 10
duolingo 10 10 0 10 10 10
Rosetta stone 10 0 0 10 10 10
readLang 20 20 20 20 20 20
Table 4: Weights assigned to each feature.
Feature Weight
Cost 0.05
Vocabulary manager 0.25
Integration with YouTube 0.25
Easy to use 0.05
Use spaced repetition 0.20
Usability and portability 0.20
Total 1.00
Under this perspective, the teaching of English
seeks to be constantly evolving to establish new
strategies based on innovative resources such as new
technologies that contribute to meaningful learning
and in the acquisition of communication
competencies in English. In this regard, (Acosta et al.,
2018) refer to the need to generate new pedagogical
methodologies for the teaching of English, which
must be generated from the culture of Latin America
countries to obtain better results in the process.
In this regard, Ecuador is no stranger to the reality
of the Latin American region, according to (Cruz
Rizo et al., 2021) there is a generalized problem in the
teaching of the English language that deals with the
lack of linguistic - methodological interaction, to the
communicative didactic. Also, (Fernandez et al.,
2018) refer that in higher education institutions it is
important that teachers' skills be improved, especially
in the use of new technologies such as teaching tools,
as well as the constant search to improve the
professional profile of students, such as, for example,
by means of international certifications through
integration with other educational centres.
In this way, the use of new information
technologies is preponderant in the improvement of
English learning capacities. According to (Chumaña
et al., 2018), in Ecuador there are few initiatives that
integrate the technological part as means for teaching,
in most cases they are considered established
applications, without individualizing the educational
needs of the students.
The biggest challenge for teachers is to determine
how and with what they can improve the linguistic
and communicative skills of their students. The lack
of development of tools that correspond to Ecuador's
educational reality means that the only alternative is
already established tools. In order to solve this
situation, we develop a mobile app that using spaced
repetition method and YouTube videos become a tool
to that university students can improve their English
4.1 Research Question
This paper attempts to answer the following research
questions (RQ): Regarding the English vocabulary
learning process, is there any significant difference
between the usability of SLANGO and ReadLang?
4.2 Research Hypothesis
The null hypothesis tested to address this research
question is: H0: There is no difference between the
usability of SLANGO and ReadLang in the English
vocabulary learning process”.
ENASE 2024 - 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering
This section describes the methodology used in this
research work which contains seven steps (Gorscheck
et al., 2006) (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Overview of research approach and technology
transfer model.
5.1 Population and Research Sample
The subjects who participated in the evaluation were
students of English courses from two departments:
Language Department and Computer Science
Engineering of the University of Cuenca (Ecuador).
The students belong to the English courses of levels
A1 and B2. The sample size was 50 students for the
evaluation of usability and desirability.
5.2 Instrumentation
For the execution of the evaluation, 4 instruments
were developed for the collection of information. All
the material required to support the experiment was
developed beforehand, including the preparation of
the experimental object, instruments and task
description documents (TDD) for data collection used
during the experiment. The instruments are described
Sociodemographic information: general data
about the participants.
TDD: It describes the tasks to be performed in
the experiment using the SLANGO and
ReadLang. This document contains guidelines
to guide the participants throughout the
Microsoft Desirability: questionnaire that
measures the attitude of users towards the
proposed interface through a controlled
vocabulary test, in total several qualities were
presented where participants had to select the
5 characteristics according to the perception
the application describes.
Systems Usability Scale Score (SUS):
measures satisfaction in terms of usability
using a 10-item questionnaire. The
participants were expected to rank their
perspectives on a 5-point Likert scale (1:
completely disagree, 5: completely agree).
In order to collect the information, the researchers
socialized basic notions such as the definition and
installation of Slango and ReadLang applications to
the study participants.
5.3 Validity of the Instruments
Regarding the validity of the instruments, the
sociodemographic questionnaire was assessed by two
members of the research group to ensure its construct
and content validity before its application to the
participants. The desirability questionnaire and the
SUS questionnaire are very known questionnaires in
the field of the human-computer interaction.
5.4 Data Collection
Before carrying out the data collection process, pilot
test was carried out in order to refine the process of
questions and tasks. Its main objective was to ensure
that there are no errors in the instruments and that the
time for doing the tasks and filling out the form does
not exceed the time delivered.
During the data collection related with the
activities proposed to the users in the comparative
evaluation, some vocabulary repetition tasks were
established, which consisted of user registration,
watching a video, adding vocabulary and the
respective review. Once these activities are
completed, the researcher conducts a brief orientation
on the proposed questionnaires.
The entire process lasted approximately 70
minutes, where phase 1 took 10 minutes, phase two
took 40 minutes and phase 3 about 20 minutes
Data were collected by means of Google Forms
containing the questions included in each
aforementioned instrument. The link was given to the
users by means of WhatsApp messages during the
session prepared to evaluate the mobile apps.
This study compared university students' perspectives
on using two mobile app to improve vocabulary
learning. Descriptive and inferential statistics were
used to answer the research questions. The results
Exploring Perspectives of Students on Using Mobile Apps to Improve English Vocabulary Through Youtube Videos: A Comparative Study
obtained from the evaluation of the developed
application are detailed, so that the results reflect
information of usability and desirability evaluation.
6.1 Sociodemographic Results
Of the total number of participants in the execution of
the experiment, 62% identify with the male gender,
while women are represented by 36%.
Questions about the level of English proficiency
of the participants were included, where 50%
acknowledge having an intermediate B1 level. In
second place, with 28% of the study sample, it is
located in A2 (Basic level), in lower percentages (6%)
are those who have an intermediate B2 level.
In accordance with the purposes of the application
to use multimedia content, the frequency of use of the
YouTube platform was determined. 46% of the
participants, state that they rarely use these types of
resources, 22% state that they are useful with some
frequency, followed by 16% who admit to using them
many times. With this, the possibility of incorporating
an application that through the viewing of videos
strengthens the learning capacity in terms of
vocabulary in English is valid.
In relation to the intention of people to learn other
languages through YouTube, 36% consider that they
watch this type of video a few times a week, in
contrast, 22% admit that they use said platform most
days in the week, even 18% do this type of activity
every day. Thus, the incorporation of the application
that contributes to the learning of a language other
than Spanish encourages self-learning in a young
population segment that is interested in activities of
this nature.
Regarding to the perception of the participants in
using applications to learn English, the 38% of the
participants give a qualification of “good” because
the criteria are acceptable to the learning
mechanisms, followed by 26% who consider that the
previous experience is “very good”, while 14% points
an “excellent” rating. Consequently, most
participants prove to have a pleasant experience
around applications that encourage language
6.2 Desirability Results
The results of the Microsoft Desirability
questionnaire that was applied to the research
participants, are shown in the following two figures
in which the words that mentioned when describing
the two applications are compared, the first shows the
positive aspects and the second the negatives. Figure
2 shows regarding ReadLang app a greater number of
participants mentioned that it is attractive, creative,
friendly and fast, however, there is little difference
between the useful and easy-to-use option. With this
it is evident that from the user's perspective the
Readlang app has greater positive characteristics than
Regarding the negative characteristics, it is
evident that ReadLang is mostly qualified in these
aspects, the majority refers that it is complex, it
requires a lot of time, it is rigid, it is not a refined app
and it is little attractive. For its part, Slango is
attributed the same negative aspects, in quantity users
who characterize it from this perspective are lower
(Figure 3).
Figure 2: Positive adjectives given to the applications.
Figure 3: Negative adjectives used to qualify both apps.
6.3 Usability Results
The results obtained in the evaluation of the usability
by means the SUS questionnaire are: 80 points to
Readlang and 78 points to Slango. When identifying
in the SUS scale, it is observed that Readlang is
considered as the best imaginable, while that Slango
as excellent.
ENASE 2024 - 19th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering
The user experience evaluation is included in the
following paragraphs. Table 5
and Table 6 show that
the applications have similar values on average,
where the difference is not shown as significant;
Readlang presents greater values in attractiveness,
perspicuity, efficiency, and dependability; while
Slango presents a value of stimulation greater than
ReadLang. Finally, Slango and ReadLang presents
the same value about Novelty (1.58).
Next, the statistical analysis of the average value
is presented to identify whether there are significant
differences applying t-Student. Table 7 shows that
there are no statistically significant differences in the
dimensions that the UEQ evaluates, in consideration,
that the two obtained results above the average, it is
considered that the two represent a good experience
for the users.
Table 5: UEQ Results of SLANGO.
Scale Mean Comparison to
Attractiveness 1.95 Excellent
1.44 Above avera
Stimulation 1.48 Goo
Table 6: UEQ Results of ReadLang.
Scale Mean Comparison to
Attractiveness 1.98 Excellent
2.09 Excellent
1.51 Goo
Stimulation 1.35 Above avera
Table 7: Results of t-Student.
Variable t-value Significance
Attractiveness 0.9112 No significant difference
0.6906 No si
nificant difference
0.7251 No si
nificant difference
0.7254 No si
nificant difference
Stimulation 0.6512 No significant difference
0.9897 No significant difference
Without a doubt, in the learning process of a
language, the vocabulary plays an important role
since based on the acquired vocabulary, a person can
express their ideas or communicate with other people.
Therefore, if a person can have applications that help
to practice the vocabulary learned, especially if the
vocabulary is included in videos in the English
language which will help in the process of getting to
dominate the language under study.
In comparison with Readlang, a commercial
product, results have been obtained that shows that
Slango is an application that has a future in the field
of using YouTube videos to practice vocabulary, and
in general, the English language.
As future work, it is important that the system is
considered to be customized to the level of
knowledge of the English language of the user. This
may be reflected presenting videos based on the
student's level of knowledge or at a deeper level. It is
very interesting to explore with a system that
accompanies the user in the new vocabulary selection
flow while observing a video and recommends words
and phrases that can be useful, can learn and ignore
phrases outside their level of knowledge.
Another important consideration is to incorporate
a collective virtual learning environment that allows
users to learn in a group of friends, family or
colleagues, where vocabulary can be shared and learn
This research paper is supported by the
Vicerrectorado de Investigación e Innovación of
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