Easy and cheap access to the Internet and a wide array of new technologies, such as smartphones, have multiplied opportunities for online informal learning of English. Yet, despite sizeable research, few studies have examined the issue of OILE in the context of university students of different disciplines. The aim of this research study was to examine the role of online language use through smartphones among students of various disciplines and its possible effects on enhancement of their foreign language skills. The study assumed both qualitative and quantitative methodology encompassing three research instruments: an online survey, the self-assessment language competence grid of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and a semi-structured interview. Data were collected with 377 students from two universities: University of Białystok, Poland and University of Osijek, Croatia. The research outcomes indicate that both Croatian and Polish students of different disciplines use their smartphones chiefly for receptive activities with infrequent use for language learning purposes and the predominant use of the mother tongue or English for the listed online activities through smartphones do not significantly affect the self-assessed level of their communicative competence in English. However, it can be stated that the choice of the preponderant language for online use through smartphones, especially for study-related issues, is conditioned by the students’ discipline of study.
Keywords English for Specific Purposes  communicative competence  discipline of study  mobile language learning  online informal learning of English
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DOI 10.2478/slgr-2019-0022
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