The Path to Digitalisation in ELT Classes: An Insight Into the Social Nature of Web-Based Language Learning

The Path to Digitalisation in ELT Classes: An Insight Into the Social Nature of Web-Based Language Learning

Ömer Eren (Hatay Mustafa Kemal University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9304-1.ch010


This chapter presents the history of digitalisation in language teaching and learning. History of computers in language classes is examined since the introduction of computer technology in language teaching up to now. The interaction between language teaching and computers is presented in a timeline to get a clear picture about the great evolution of the role of computers from a drilling machine into creating a virtual classroom atmosphere. Starting from 1970s, history of computer-assisted language learning is depicted to enlighten the idea of how social networking has emerged and how it is used in language teaching. After that, social nature of learning and its role in digitalisation is explained within theoretical framework of behaviourist and constructivist approaches.
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Dynamics in language teaching and learning is not free from factors that determine the nature of classroom applications. Continuing advancements in technology not only transform tools in the classroom, but also affects and paves the way for reconstruction of the identity among language learners. Using the phrase “New Technology” might seem quite normal for teachers, but this absolutely not the case for our learners who have already been labelled as digital native by Prensky (2001) long ago. In order to close this technological gap between teachers and learners, it is necessary to understand the theoretical background in different phases of educational technology, which will create a better understanding into the social nature of learners and their interactions with in-class technology.

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Considering our digital era, computers are our biggest helpers undoubtedly. Today, a life without the use of computers even seems out of question. Everything about human life is somehow surrounded and affected by computers. Language teaching and learning is also shaped by the changes with the use of technology at almost every aspect of our lives. Since the introduction of computer technology in daily life, language teaching and learning has benefited from it a lot for teaching different skills in language. In language teaching, the integration of computer and language teaching is called as Computer Assisted Language Teaching (CALL). Warschauer (2000) portrays three stages for the history of CALL; Structural CALL, Communicative CALL and Integrative CALL. Each of these stages addresses to certain status of technology and its pedagogical approach to ELT.

Structural Call

Structural CALL dates back to late 1960’s and 1980’s and this stage correspond to behaviouristic approaches in English Language Teaching. At this stage, computers were used for drills and repetitions and were considered as mechanical tutors. As behaviouristic approaches considered that language is learned by habit formation and repeated practises, computers were used to carry out simple drills and immediate feedback. Levy (1997) defines this period as “tutorial CALL” in which computers are used as teachers providing corrections to exercises. Materials in computers allowed to practise and produce exercises both in and out of classroom environments.

Communicative Call

Communicative CALL, on the other hand, goes back to 1980’s and 1990’s and was based the communicative approach in language teaching (Warschauer, 2000). In this period, activities in computers were mostly communicative and it was intended to increase the interaction between language learner and computers. Skill practise replaced with drill activities and learners got a greater degree of choice and control on exercises. Computers were used to as tools to stimulate discussion, writing and critical thinking by using word-processors, grammar checkers and concordances.

Integrative Call

Integrative CALL indicates the use of computers in 21st century. It is based on two main components: Multimedia and Internet (Warschauer, 2000). CD-ROMs are the key tools in multimedia enabling users to reach a wide variety of media, namely, videos, animations, graphics and sounds. This contributed a lot to the development of CALL as it allowed to integrate skills and created a more authentic learning environment. Reading, writing and listening activities combined easily. The use of multimedia promoted students to get control of their own learning. They could do the activities on their own pace by going forward and backward among the exercises. Although multimedia involved variety of skills, it still lacked authentic and meaningful contexts for communication. Internet compensated this problem and brought a new echo to the use of computers in language teaching. Warschauer (2000) states that computers were primitive for communication since 1960’s and the rise of internet made the greatest impact on language teaching. Learners can communicate easily with other learners all over the world.

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