Computer-Aided Language Learning

Computer-Aided Language Learning

Andrew Laghos (City University, UK) and Panayiotis Zaphiris (City University, UK)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 3
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch056
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Abstract

Gamper and Knapp (2002) define Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) as “a research field which explores the use of computational methods and techniques as well as new media for language learning and teaching” (p. 329). In more general terms, CALL can be thought of as the use of computers to help learn languages. As a sub-category of Computer-Aided Learning (CAL), CALL deals exclusively with learning languages. Specific examples of CALL tools and utilities include games, tests, exercises, and word processing, and their use in a CALL session is determined by the syllabus, software, teacher, or learner. The popularity of CALL is constantly increasing as multimedia developments and technology are advancing. In the last few years, CALL systems have become fully integrated with audio and video support, creating interesting and attractive presentations. With the Internet emerging, a new platform for CALL systems has evolved. Thus, there has been a move from CD-ROM-based CALL to online Web-based CALL, enabling more connectivity and interactivity with other students or teachers. Important examples of why CALL has moved to Web-based mediums include the ability to carry out audio and videoconferencing, use chat rooms and e-mail, and communicate with native speakers of the language.
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Introduction

Gamper and Knapp (2002) define Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) as “a research field which explores the use of computational methods and techniques as well as new media for language learning and teaching” (p. 329). In more general terms, CALL can be thought of as the use of computers to help learn languages. As a sub-category of Computer-Aided Learning (CAL), CALL deals exclusively with learning languages. Specific examples of CALL tools and utilities include games, tests, exercises, and word processing, and their use in a CALL session is determined by the syllabus, software, teacher, or learner.

The popularity of CALL is constantly increasing as multimedia developments and technology are advancing. In the last few years, CALL systems have become fully integrated with audio and video support, creating interesting and attractive presentations. With the Internet emerging, a new platform for CALL systems has evolved. Thus, there has been a move from CD-ROM-based CALL to online Web-based CALL, enabling more connectivity and interactivity with other students or teachers. Important examples of why CALL has moved to Web-based mediums include the ability to carry out audio and videoconferencing, use chat rooms and e-mail, and communicate with native speakers of the language.

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Call Methodology

As Hubbard (1996) points out, the question for many language teachers now seems to be not whether, but how computers can aid in the language learning process. The use of computers in language acquisition is becoming common practice, a challenge for research, and a business opportunity.

In 1987 Hubbard found that courseware reviews commonly focus on technical considerations, and that this was sometimes at the expense of language teaching and learning considerations. He proposed a CALL Methodological Framework (Hubbard, 1987) that synthesises the previously developed frameworks of Philips (1985) and Richards and Rodgers (1982). Key players in Hubbard’s (1987) framework are the learner, the developer, the evaluator, and the teacher. Hubbard’s methodology consists of three modules—development, evaluation, and implementation—in which “development necessarily precedes evaluation while both development and evaluation precede implementation.” Furthermore in this framework, an integral approach to evaluation, development, and implementation is followed where “evaluation can inform development and implementation experiences can inform both development and evaluation” (Hubbard, 1996, p. 20).

Development Module

Hubbard’s development module comprises three sections: approach, design, and procedure. In the approach section, linguistic assumptions and learning assumptions are the two principal determining elements. The two fundamental components of the design section are the learner profiles and the syllabus. Finally, the procedure section of the development model contains the elements to be considered in the actual layout of the program that presents the materials (Hubbard, 1996).

Evaluation Module

The evaluation module is made up of three sections: teacher fit (approach), learner fit, (design) and operational description (procedure). This module focuses on pedagogical issues like learning style, teaching approach, and linguistic assumptions (Hubbard, 1996). Although not addressed by Hubbard, one can assume that the evaluation module can also contain elements of usability evaluation of the CALL system.

Implementation Module

The implementation module is constituted by the areas to be considered for the implementation such as accessibility, the flow of a CALL lesson, learner use of courseware, and teacher control. Hubbard (1996) states: “The two aspects of particular note are the central role of teacher control in learner use and the importance of supporting preparatory and follow-up activities” (p. 31).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer-Assisted Language Testing (CALT): An integrated procedure in which language performance is elicited and assessed with the help of a computer.

Pedagogy: The activities and theory of education or instructing or teaching.

Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning (ICALL): The exploration of the use of Artificial Intelligence methods and techniques for language learning.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): The study, planning, and design of what happens when humans and computers work together.

Distance Learning: A planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to reach learners at a distance and is designed to encourage learner interaction and certification of learning.

Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL): Any kind of language learning activity that makes use of computers.

Videoconferencing: The use of multimedia elements, digital cameras, and microphones to capture video and sound, and transmit it live at real time to other users who will receive it using their display units and speakers.

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