Computer-Assisted Language Learning in East Asia

Computer-Assisted Language Learning in East Asia

Hsien-Chin Liou (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch057
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Abstract

Recently, there has been an obvious blooming of the manufacturing of computer hardware and peripherals in Asian countries: to illustrate, Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, various information and communications technologies (ICT) and computer games are blossoming among adolescents’ entertainment choices that promote their media literacies. Educators have long acknowledged the potential of using ICT to enhance instruction (hereafter referred to as CBL, computer-based learning), and organized conferences and associations to promote academic activities and disseminate updated information about them. In spite of the similar excitement in the East Asian area, at present, there is almost no authoritative scholarly CBL journal available in East Asia. Descriptions of regional academic-conference activities would help the international community understand the development and academic achievements in East Asian areas. The paper is organized with a detailed description about professional associations and conferences of CBL in East Asia with a focus on language learning, followed by the report of a unique project in Taiwan as an example of East Asian cases.
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Introduction

Recently, there has been an obvious blooming of the manufacturing of computer hardware and peripherals in Asian countries: to illustrate, Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, various information and communications technologies (ICT) and computer games are blossoming among adolescents’ entertainment choices that promote their media literacies. Educators have long acknowledged the potential of using ICT to enhance instruction (hereafter referred to as CBL, computer-based learning), and organized conferences and associations to promote academic activities and disseminate updated information about them. In spite of the similar excitement in the East Asian area, at present, there is almost no authoritative scholarly CBL journal available in East Asia. Descriptions of regional academic-conference activities would help the international community understand the development and academic achievements in East Asian areas. The paper is organized with a detailed description about professional associations and conferences of CBL in East Asia with a focus on language learning, followed by the report of a unique project in Taiwan as an example of East Asian cases.

The evolution of professional organizations in Asia is perhaps like that of other areas: from general to specialized interest. To illustrate, early in 1991 an international conference named “Computers in Education/Computer-Assisted Instruction” (ICCE/ICCAI as an Asian chapter of international ICCE)was held in Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC). The domestic conference ICCE (for some years, its taking place was interleaved with the international conference) was held every year until around 1999, and the formal Association of Computer Assisted Instruction was born here.

Academic disciplines keep evolving and become more and more specialized. Among scholars of different subjects, language professionals started to adopt technologies for educational purposes and stimulated the birth of the area called computer-assisted language learning (CALL). Traced back in history, the first formal organization that was founded to promote the use of computer technologies in the area of (foreign) language instruction is CALICO (Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium) in the USA, dated in early 1980 with a regular publication of CALICO Journal. Such an organization was followed by EuroCALL and World CALL. In Asia, the first regional organization may be the Asia-Pacific Association of Multimedia Assisted Language Learning (APAMALL), founded in 2003 (see Crane Publishing, 2003), with a joint conference of multimedia language education in Taiwan (http://www.rocmelia.com.tw). Yet, the development of this organization is still in its infancy, with active involvement of only one organization in Korea and in Taiwan at present. Before APAMALL, formal organizations did not exist except for those in the format of general language conferences in Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan.

As an exemplary case among East Asian countries, Taiwan follows a similar route of specialization. In the area of language studies, the earliest organization related to computer use was the association of ROC Computational Linguistics, founded in 1988, but it had little concern with education until very recently CALL-SIG was developed (which was born in October of 2004). Another line of development that stimulates the birth of CALL in Taiwan is a by-product branching from a general foreign-language teaching association or conference. The largest association in Taiwan is English Teachers’ Association (ETA; 1992), with which some early literature and computer workshops were held with its main annual international conference. Later, this workshop (Litcomp) was renamed Language and Technology Conference, which held its fourth year in 2004. Occasionally, some CALL papers appeared in a few ETA conferences. Yet, the real CALL association was not built until 1996, when ROC Multimedia English Language Instruction Association was formally formed (ROCMELIA), and it has hosted an annual conference since. By 2003, it collaborated with the Korean association to rename itself as APAMALL.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collocation: The occurrence of two or more words within a short space of each other in a text (Sinclair, 1991); they usually form a unit semantically.

Computational Scaffolding: The kind of online support “that is responsive to the particular demands made on children learning through the medium of a second language—that is critical for success” (Gibbons, 2002, p. 11).

Natural Language Processing: Using various computing technologies to process natural languages used by human beings (as opposed to machine or artificial languages) in order to understand or produce the languages. For instance, parsing as a typical type of processing is to analyze an English sentence in order to group words into a subject (doer of an action) and verb phrase (the action).

MOO: Multimedia-domain object oriented. A kind of online mechanism that was originally used for virtual-reality-type games but was adopted for educational purposes later. MOO has been widely used to teach various foreign languages including English. ForMOOsa (http://formoosa.fl.nthu.edu.tw) was the first one constructed in Taiwan (Liou, 2002a).

Concordancer: A text-manipulation tool originally used by lexicographers but nowadays popularly promoted among foreign-language teachers and learners. Such a program displays character strings before and after a key word or phrase based on the computer text corpus the program is fed.

Language-Learning Strategy: Learners’ conscious techniques or skills that helps their language learning while they are working on language tasks (O’Malley & Chamot, 1990).

Extensive Reading: Reading for pleasure or information gathering instead of reading to increase language knowledge, which is called intensive reading where learners look up all unknown words and take reading as a study skill.

Corpus: A collection of naturally occurring language text, chosen to characterize the state or variety of a language (Sinclair, 1991).

CALL: A well-recognized acronym among language educators that is a subbranch of CBL with a focus on first-language or often second- or foreign-language teaching and learning.

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