Establishing a “Standard Model” for TESOL Instructional Design

Establishing a “Standard Model” for TESOL Instructional Design

Michael W. Marek (Wayne State College, USA) and Wen-chi Vivian Wu (Asia University, Taichung City, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020070106

Abstract

This article proposes a Standard Model of CALL, i.e., a compilation of fundamental theories and practices that should always be considered when creating an instructional design for the Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). This proposed model is inspired by the standard model of physics which is the widely accepted understanding about how the fundamental particles and forces of the universe operate. The authors propose that the following concepts be considered the foundational components of the Standard Model of CALL which should shape the CALL context: (1) Reverse engineering of instructional requirements from outcome goals; (2) Instructional design based on affordances; (3) Constructivism embodied in student-centered active learning; (4) Communicative Language theory (CLT); (5) Authentic learning materials and experiences, (6) Incremental learning; (7) Task-Based Instructional Design; (8) Gamification; and (9) Long term use via curriculum integration. They collectively form a foundation and framework for common contextual elements that all CALL instructional design should consider.
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Introduction

Study of the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) via Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is a vibrant field, but researchers often use problematical instructional and research designs. For example, in a meta-analysis of over 200 recent papers (Chwo, Marek & Wu, 2016, 2018), the authors found that there were significant discrepancies between the mobile devices use habits of the students and what the instructional designers and teachers thought the use habits would be, leading to flawed curriculum design; that 2) learning outcomes were often negatively impacted by problems with limited access, de-motivation, and poor curriculum design; and that 3) many of the MALL studies were of surprisingly short durations, as little as 40 minutes, or had other obvious flaws suggesting poor research design.

In part, these problems in research and practice exist because there is little agreement about fundamental theories and practices that should always be considered for possible incorporation when creating a CALL environment, to give language learning the best chance of success. This may be because most CALL/MALL research is experimental in nature, meaning that the researchers isolate one particular CALL/MALL technology element and then explore its effectiveness via a methodology using experimental and control groups (Konrath, 2013). Such research often does not address holistic curriculum design.

Nevertheless, there are commonalities in the academic literature which led the authors to conclude that a standard compilation of well-tested CALL theory and practice could provide a valuable contextual framework for instructional and research design, and provide a roadmap for formalization of a common set of CALL principals. In turn, this could provide a “starting point” for actual instructional designers, as well as for researchers.

This conceptual paper proposes the establishment of a “Standard Model of CALL” i.e., a compilation of fundamental theories and practices that the authors propose should always be considered when creating a CALL educational context in which language learning will succeed, including Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL). Each individual element is well-supported in the academic literature about CALL and MALL.

This proposed model is inspired by the “Standard Model of Physics,” which is the widely accepted understanding about how the fundamental particles and forces of the universe operate. Because it has been well-tested, it is the established model used by physicists to describe the functioning of the universe. Other disciplines have similar models, such as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), standard rules and procedures that guide business and corporate accounting.

The authors’ conceptualized this model as the result of their previously-published journal articles and book chapters, and particularly from their major meta-analysis of CALL and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) literature (Chwo, Marek & Wu, 2016, 2018). Along with the other past experiences and scholarly work of the authors, their findings stimulated the reflection and critical thinking of the authors about the components that instructional designers should consider for CALL and MALL courses of study.

The authors propose that the following concepts be considered to be the foundational components of the “Standard Model of CALL” for shaping curriculum and instructional design for CALL instructional and research design:

  • 1.

    Reverse engineering of instructional requirements from outcome goals;

  • 2.

    Affordance-based instructional design;

  • 3.

    Constructivism embodied in student-centered active learning;

  • 4.

    Communicative Language Teaching (CLT);

  • 5.

    Authentic learning materials and experiences;

  • 6.

    Incremental Learning;

  • 7.

    Task-Based Instructional Design;

  • 8.

    Gamification;

  • 9.

    Long term use via curriculum integration.

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