The History of CALL: The Intertwining Paths of Technology and Second/Foreign Language Teaching

The History of CALL: The Intertwining Paths of Technology and Second/Foreign Language Teaching

Mary Ellen Butler-Pascoe (Alliant International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1855-8.ch002
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It has been over 50 years since the emergence of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) that would forever change how second/foreign languages are taught. This article presents a historical overview of the evolution of CALL from the early years of the mainframe computer to the integrative technologies of the 21st century. It examines the evolution of the dual fields of educational technology and second/foreign language teaching as they intertwined over the last half of the 20th century into present day CALL. The paper describes the paradigm shifts experienced along this journey and the current state of CALL as new technologies rapidly advance language teaching capabilities and challenge practitioners to provide optimum learning environments for the future.
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Early Call And Structural Language Teaching

CALL has its origins in the 1960s with the development of the mainframe computer and programs located at several universities around the world. The computer courseware, developed using programming languages, was typically stored on a mainframe typically located on campus and was accessed by students at connecting terminals. Stanford University was home to an early computer project directed by Atkinson and Suppes that included introductory Russian language study (Suppes, 1981; Ahmad, 1989) in which students were required to type answers to questions in Russian and perform various types of transformation exercises. Another comprehensive program in the United States, The PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) system, was introduced at the University of Illinois (Hart, 1981) first for the teaching of a Russian reading course based upon the grammar-translation method. The program stressed direct translation, brief grammar explanations, and vocabulary and grammar drills. The PLATO program was later offered at several universities in multiple languages including English in which students worked their way through one discrete linguistic structure at a time. Chapelle (2001) cites several similar undertakings by individuals or groups at major universities such as the collaborative project of three Canadian universities in the development of the CLEF (Computer-Assisted Learning Exercises for French) and the TICCIT (Time-Shared, Interactive, Computer-Controlled Information Television) project that by 1980 had courseware for language study in ESL, French, German, Spanish, and Italian (Chapelle, 2001).

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