Addressing Cross-Linguistic Influence and Related Cultural Factors Using Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Addressing Cross-Linguistic Influence and Related Cultural Factors Using Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Danièle Allard (Université de Sherbrooke, Canada), Jacqueline Bourdeau (TÉLUQ-UQAM, Canada), and Riichiro Mizoguchi (Osaka University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-883-8.ch027
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The goal of this research, a work in progress, is to address areas in second/foreign language acquisition prone to cross-linguistic influence, and to examine related cultural factors. More specifically, the authors aim to identify such areas, map available knowledge in this respect using ontological engineering methodology, and devise appropriate teaching strategies and learning scenarios to help overcome cross-linguistic influence with the help of computer-assisted language learning systems. The authors have been working mainly with Japanese-speaking students of English and first-year university English-speaking students of French. In this chapter, the authors describe culture in relation to foreign language learning, cross-linguistic influence, their cultural framework as well as ontological engineering methodology. They demonstrate their work with examples of the use of modals by Japanese students/speakers of English. They further provide an illustration of ontological modeling in addition to a basic simulation of how a CALL system based on an ontology could potentially work.
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Culture In Second / Foreign Language Teaching / Learning

Dubreil (2006) outlines how culture has been approached in L2 education. Until the 1960’s, it seems that culture was essentially included in the curriculum in the form of literature presented in textbooks. At the end of the 60’s and for most of the latter half of the last century, educators were urged to move beyond what was termed Culture–with a big “C”–as manifested through civilization’s accomplishments in literature, the fine arts, social institutions, history, geography and politics, and consider culture–with a small “c”–as expressed in lifestyles, or the habits and patterns of daily living.

With the turn of the millennium, culture in L2 education appears to take on a more fluid definition. Culture (regardless of capitalization) expresses itself through discourse. In other words, cultural reality is expressed, embodied and symbolized through language (Kramsch 1998). As such, culture is understood to have more to do with human interaction, in an encounter of native and target cultures being juxtaposed, potentially compared, and reflected upon. The theories underlying this view have led professional associations to provide members with guidelines for the teaching of culture in the L2 classroom, not only including it as an essential skill alongside speaking, listening, reading and writing, but often times placing it at the core of the L2 curriculum, as a key element shaping its form and content.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Second Language: A second language is a language that is spoken and used by the people of a community / society / nation. For example, French or English are second languages in Canada.

Native Language: A native language has been learned in childhood and is still being spoken by the individual using it.

Foreign Language: A foreign language is a language not widely spoken and used by the people of a community / society / nation. For example, Spanish is a foreign language in Canada.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is an approach to teaching and learning foreign / second languages in which computer, computer-based resources and information technology are used to present, reinforce and assess material to be learned.

Interference: In the context of language acquisition, interference are errors in the learner’s use of a foreign/second language that can be traced back to one’s native language, or another language previously acquired

Culture: A relatively stable system of shared meanings, a repository of meaningful symbols, which provides structure to experience (Kashima, 2000)

Ontology: An ontology is similar to a dictionary or glossary, but with greater detail and structure that enables computers to process its content. An ontology consists of a set of concepts, axioms, and relationships that describe a domain of interest (IEEE Standard Upper Ontology Working Group). An ontology can also be read by humans, who do not necessarily need to be computer specialists to interpret its meaning.

Ontological Engineering: Ontological engineering is a research methodology which gives us the design rationale of a knowledge base, kernel conceptualization of the world of interest, semantic constraints of concepts together with sophisticated theories and technologies enabling accumulation of knowledge which is indispensable for knowledge processing in the real world. (Mizoguchi, 2003)

Cross-Linguistic Influence: Simply explained, cross-linguistic influence is a phenomenon that can be observed when speakers use skills that can be traced back to their native language (or another language they might have previously learned) when using a second, third or foreign language.

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