The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption that CALL has traditionally emphasized unresolved dichotomies such as tutor vs. tool or individualized instruction vs. collaborative learning. It is argued that a unifying theory, capable of incorporating these conflicting views, is needed. For this purpose, Activity Theory, based on Vygotsky’s ideas and developed by Leontiev, is proposed. It is suggested that research in CALL should focus neither on the individual nor on the community, but on the mediating tool that links them in situated context. CALL is seen as a cultural artifact that needs to be naturalized by the language teaching community.
Call As A House Divided
The idea of CALL as either an individual or a social activity can be related to CALL classification attempts, three of which are detailed here, not only for their historical impact on the area, but mainly for their relevance to the line of reasoning developed in this chapter. They are the magister/pedagogue distinction, as proposed by Higgins (1988), the CALL phases described by Warschauer (1996), and the approaches suggested by Bax (2003).
The acknowledged need for a theory to explain CALL (Levy, 1997) has led some investigators to propose different theoretical frameworks, which resulted in different classifications. One of the earliest was postulated by Higgins (1988), who viewed the computer as playing two opposite roles in CALL, either as “magister” or “pedagogue.” Thus, the magister: