Ten suggestions for teachers with limited CALL experience

De Szendeffy (2005: chapter 3) suggests the following 10 tips or guidelines for implementing CALL activities:

1. Focus on activities, not software titles.

Effective lab classes generally revolve around a well thought-out activity that involves content accessed via computers with stimulating student interaction in the target language.

2. Wade in slowly.
Teachers new to CALL are often put off by the perception that they must be technical gurus, that they must know how to do everything in order to do everything. They don't.
Most teachers are familiar with word processing, e-mail or web browsing.

3. Teach.
Lab class should provide human instruction time and contact with each student.

4. Appreciate the richness of the computing environment.
The complexity of this environment frequently leads students to seek help, either from the teacher or, preferably, from a classmate -thus the importance of pairing students or at least seating them according to unlike L1s.

5. Prepare and be patient.
Be familiar with applications you have students use so that you can answer questions knowledgeably. Work through every activity in advance, and anticipate what problems students might encounter. This familiarity is as much the teacher's responsibility as knowing other materials used, such as textbooks.

6. Don’t let technology drive your class.
Don't use technology for technology's sake, because it's there, or let it become an end in itself instead of a means. Recognize the difference between taking advantage of a stimulating language learning environment and letting it dictate what you do... Think of an interactive language activity first, then look to technology to enable it, if possible.

7. Invest time in training and orientation.
Don't assume that students know computers or each program because they're young. They don't... Taking the time to walk students through the use of a new application or activity as a class will save time because it's easier to say something once to the class before an activity.

8. Pace activities.
Allowing students to complete activities at their own pace is part of the beauty of CALL... Have buffer activities ready for students who finish earlier... Transitioning from one activity to another takes time... Students are slow to change gears when they're at the wheel (that is, the mouse), so segue from one activity to another without abruptly interrupting their momentum. New activities must overcome the inertia of the preceding one while addressing the technical overhead of the new one.

9. Be a resource guide.
A lab teacher's skill is largely exhibited in his or her ability to choose appropriate and effective materials and activities and to teach access skills and epistemology, particularly of the enormous Internet resources. As a lab teacher, you are the librarian of the lab in that it is partly your responsibility to introduce students to appropriate lab resources, whether used in class or not, in fact, especially for relevant materials you won't have time to use in class.

10. Orchestrate communicative activities.
A CALL's teacher job is to orchestrate communicative activities that are student centered and student empowering. In a CALL lab, students have an expectation of hands-on work and active participation more than passive listening; they are more predisposed to doing something. Give them instructions for an activity, and let them have at it. Develop open-ended activities where students create as much as possible and are not arbitrarily restricted to a narrow, predefined model.

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