CALL history (1)

Reviewing CALL history can be something useful. As Davies (1997) points out, it is important that we learn from the lessons of the past - so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. Or as Beatty (2003) says:

It is important to preserve such history not just to give a sense of the changing focus of CALL over time, but also to ensure that researchers do not overlook earlier issues and developments and waste time reinventing the wheel.

The use of computers in language learning is not something new, as we all know. It began with large mainframe computers in some American universities in the 1960s. The most famous system of those times was PLATO (Programmed Logic/Learning for Automated Teaching), which was a pioneering platform developed by the University of Illinois working with a business partner (Control Data Corporation); its programming language was not only designed for the purpose of teaching languages and although it was finally turned off in the 1990s, the name is still used today. However, it was in the 1980s, with the appearance of micro or personal computers, when the use of computers for learning purposes started to spread. The evolution of its pedagogical possibilities has been related to technological change. The very few options of computers such as the Timex-Sinclair or the first Commodore cannot be compared with multimedia computers with CD-ROMs (Compact Disk Read-Only Memory), which have been replaced at present by larger volume media such as DVDs (Digital Videodiscs). Hundreds of new CALL programs were published in the 1990s, but it was the arrival of Internet connections what changed many things. In the last years broadband penetration has been growing quickly; however, we shouldn't forget that in many countries the vast majority of people simply don't have the computers and high speed net connections needed. New web social tools are the last technological evolution which have given computers greater communicative power (and learning a language has a lot to do with learning to communicate).

We have a complete description of CALL history in Delcloque (2000). He has divided the publications on CALL history into two categories:

A - Objective description of events and projects.
Examples of this first type are Ahmad, K. et al. (1985) [Computers, Language Learning and Language Teaching. CUP] and Levy (1997) [the reference is in a previous post].

B - Interpretative description of different phases.

to be continued


ESL Superblog

Here you can read (and sometimes listen) what English teachers from around the world (from Brazil to Korea) have written in their ESL or EFL blogs. This superblog was created about a month ago and since then several changes have been made in the ten blogs that SuprGlu allows to add. I have tried to include blogs which are related to CALL and English teaching or addressed to language teachers who want to read about useful ideas and resources and are updated at least once a month; the posts are usually about research and professional topics and experience.
I hope this ESL Superblog can be useful.


CALL Journals

These are the main free online journals on CALL:

There are other journals from professional associations such as EUROCALL, TESOL, CALICO, IATEFL, IALLT, APACALL, but their publications are not free or you have to be a member to have access to them.

Other free online journals on ESL, which sometimes include some articles on CALL are:


Some books on CALL

  1. BEATTY, K. (2003), Teaching and Researching Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Pearson Education, Longman.
  2. BUTLER-PASCOE, M.E. & WIBURG, K.M. (2002), Technology and Teaching English Language Learners, Allyn & Bacon.
  3. CHAPELLE, C.A. (ed.) (2003), English Language Learning and Technology: Lectures on Applied Linguistics in the Age of ICT (Language Learning and Teaching, 7), John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  4. DUDENEY, G. (2000), The Internet and the Language Classroom, CUP. (A new revised edition will appear in 2007)
  5. FEYTEN, C.M. et al (2001), Teaching ESL/EFL with the Internet: Catching the Wave, Prentice Hall.
  6. JEONG-BAE, S. (ed.) (2004), Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Concepts, Contexts and Practices, APACALL.
  7. LEVY, M. (1997), Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Contexts and Conceptualization, OUP.
  8. SMITH, D. & BABER, E. (eds.) (2005), Teaching English with Information Technology, Modern English Publishing Ltd.
  9. SPERLING, D. (1998), Dave Sperling's Internet Guide, Prentice Hall.
  10. SPERLING, D. (1999), Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Book, Prentice Hall.
  11. SZENDEFFY, J. de (2005), A Practical Guide to Using Computers in Language Teaching, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.
  12. SWAFFAR, J.K. (ed.) et al (1998), Language Learning Online: Theory and Practice in the ESL and L2 Computer Classroom, Labyrinth Publications.
  13. TEELER, D. & GRAY, P. (2000), How to Use the Internet in English Language Teaching, Longman.
  14. WARSCHAUER, M. (ed.) et al (2000), Network-based language teaching: Concepts and Practice, CUP.
  15. WINDEATT, S., HARDISTY, D. & EASTMENT, D. (2000), The Internet, OUP.
  16. ZACHARIA, G. & ZAPHIRIS, P. (eds.) (2006), User-Centered Computer Aided Language Learning, Idea Group Publishing.
All these books can be found at Amazon.
To make the list shorter, I would say that books dated before 2003 need some updating to include new generation web tools (podcasting, blogging, video sharing, wiki collaboration, ...).
Beatty (2003) is a good book on research topics on CALL. Numbers 3 and 6 are collections of articles presented at professional associations conventions. Szendeffy (2005) is an introductory book for teachers who want to start to use computers to teach languages. Although it was published last year, it doesn’t mention new web tools.
I haven’t read Smith & Baber (2005) and Zacharia & Zaphiris (2006). They haven’t arrived from Amazon yet. I hope Santa Claus or the Magic Kings (January, 6th) bring them to me. I promise to review them.


EVO 2007

The CALL Interest Section of TESOL offers the opportunity to participate in the Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2007.
The sessions are free and open to all interested parties. You do not need to be a TESOL member to participate in this six-week, wholly online session of the EVO, Jan 15 -Feb 25, 2007. Registration is from January 1 to 14.
In their Announcement Web page there is a description of the different sessions or groups. They strongly recommend that you sign up for no more than two sessions, but I am interested in at least six:

Becoming a Webhead

Digital Gaming and Language Learning

E-assessment tools
for language teaching

Tips and Tricks for Successful
Online Teaching and Learning:
Facilitating Authentic Use of English

Webcast Academy

Webpublishing in Open
Participatory Environments


Video on language learning & Web 2.0 technologies

Web 2.0 & Language Learning(Quicktime)

Graham Stanley's video, published in his Blog-EFL, is a good summary of the new possibilities for language learning offered by new social web tools. Leigh Blackall has also referenced Graham's video at Learn Online, a blog on things to do with network and flexible learning.


Computer Assisted Language Learning Special Interest Group

CALLSIG.ORG is a great moodle site recently created by Chris Surridge, where teachers can collaborate in a "community of development and resource sharing". Although it is related to KOTESOL and the Korea-Japan Projects Group, it is open to teachers from everywhere.
A lot has been said about collaborative learning, but what about collaboration among teachers. There are so many language teachers around the world! We need places like this to collaborate worldwide. CALL needs curricular integration models and to define those models we must share experience and knowledge, which is now possible with the new web tools. As Chris has said in the forum, teacher collaboration is critical.
I strongly recommend to register and join CALLSIG , where you can find sample courses and applications (the speaking journals idea is wonderful), 20 hot minutes workshops and a CALLSIG Lounge with a growing forum.
How about meeting in Asia?


CALL Bibliographies online

  • EUROCALL's Bibliography is a list of selected further reading, online and in print, for those interested in computer assisted language learning . Last updated May 26, 2006. There are sections about books, discussion lists, journals, online articles and other bibliographies (most of them dated before the year 2000 or not regularly updated).
  • ICT4LT CALL Bibliography (UK). In the Resources section of the great ICT4LT website. Last updated November 15, 2006. Created and maintained by Graham Davies. It includes books, articles, software distributors and some other just for fun links.
  • Literature on CALL and language learning online . List created by Vance Stevens, it includes online bibliographies (not updated) and articles. Last updated November 4, 2006.
If you know of any other regularly updated CALL bibliography lists, please write a comment.


"Drill and Kill"

Many language teachers remain skeptical or indifferent about the new technological possibilities, or even see them as an enemy instead of an ally. There are teachers who still relate language labs to old audiolingual drill and kill methods. The audiolingual methodology was dominant since the 1950s, as the modern alternative to grammar and translation methods, and stressed memorization of structures and vocabulary through repetition (drilling) where the teacher was the language modeler and drill leader and the student a pattern practicer and accuracy enthusiast.
Since the 1960s there was an expansion of descriptive work on discourse, pragmatic and functional properties of language. Language had to be examined in natural contexts, either oral or written, not in sentences made up by the linguist. The functional-notional approach (Finocchiaro & Brumfit, 1983) to language teaching was one of the first results of the evolution in linguistic theory . In the European framework the Threshold Level was issued as a specific list of contents, competences and communicative functions to be developed by the learner.

The old analog lab was rejected in the 1980s with the arrival of CLT (Communicative Language Teaching) and because of its poor technological possibilities. Not only the technology differentiates an analog lab from a CALL or digital lab. The classroom dynamic is also different and the interactive possibilities of Internet connected computers affect the way contents are learnt. In the audiolingual lab students were delivered predetermined audio or video material as a model to repeat or decipher in comprehension questions. As Szendeffy (2005, Using Computers in Language Teaching, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan) puts it:

Using computers as tools to produce collaborative projects shifts the focus to the relationship between students working together and away from a student working alone with a machine.
Where the analog lab broadcasted information in one direction, the computer serves more as a pliable tool displaying a vast array of information and stimuli on demand while also providing constant opportunity for input and more creative expression. Teachers can tap into this power to orchestrate challenging activities that involve and empower students, stimulate thought and production, and create more instances of authentic interaction between students using the target language than might be the case in the analog lab or conventional classroom.


Does a language lab improve learning?

The present school language laboratory is a classroom with computers connected to the Internet and multimedia resources. Can these technologies improve learning?
There are several reasons to think that a modern CALL environment can improve learning:
  • Combination of different sources and media (texts, images, audio, video, recording, Internet).
  • Wider diversity of activities.
  • A greater variety of linguistic input in context with authentic language models.
  • Access to enormous linguistic corpora and databases.
  • Inner interactivity with materials that make autocorrection and negotiation of meaning possible and external interactivity with other channels of communication between class members and distant learners.
  • Possibility of creating different itineraries of learning and tutorial feedback.
  • Autonomous independent learning and individual control.
  • Tools for the creation of individual and group projects.
  • Learning comes out of the classroom and teaching adquires an ubiquitous dimension.
  • A friendlier environment of learning is provided, where there are fewer risks of failing and learners can develop self-confidence with greater freedom to experiment and repeat as many times as needed.
  • Students can publish their writings or podcasts with an authentic audience.
  • They can share their learning and knowledge with students from other countries and become part of the global web community by improving their digital literacy.
Is all this possible in a traditional classroom? It would be rather difficult without the technological tools of a language lab, wouldn't it?
CALL is now perceived as something that is inherently different and/or complementary to classroom teaching. (K. Beatty, 2003)



Good thing the blogosphere!
Dekita and Bee have sent me the first comments. Thanks a lot. It's good to feel that there are great people out there.
In Bee's comment we get the information about TESOL Electronic Village Online 2007 , a free online event which will be held from January 15th to February 25th (the Call for Participation will come out early December).
At Bee's blog I have found an excellent presentation about Blogs, Podcasts and Other Social Tools, created for The Future of Learning in a Networked World (New Zealand, 18-29 September, 2006):


Computer-assisted language learning (some definitions)

Michael Levy (Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Contexts and Conceptualization, OUP, 1997) defined CALL as "the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning". It is a field which has been constantly evolving both in terms of pedagogical changes and technological advances. To the possible advantages of multimedia applications, the use of the Internet has added real and global communication (how to learn with Computer Mediated Communication is a growing field of investigation) and a huge amount of materials, linguistic data and online resources. New web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts) are offering new possibilities to communicate, collaborate and share learning and knowledge.
Ken Beatty (Teaching and Researching CALL, Pearson, 2003) gives a broader definition of CALL that takes into consideration its changing nature: "any process in which a learner uses a computer and, as a result, improves his or her language".
A further definition for CALL can be found in the Wikipedia article:
Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is an approach to language teaching and learning in which computer technology is used as an aid to the presentation, reinforcement and assessment of material to be learned, usually including a substantial interactive element.


Welcome to this new blog on...

language labs and English teaching. I am currently working on an investigation project on ICT integration into Secondary Education study programs. I'll let you know here about my learning, thoughts and findings on the topic. Any help and comments will be appreciated.