Perspectives on Technology in Learning and Teaching Languages by Richard Kern

Posted: June 12, 2012 by sakayoglu in 2006, CALL
Tags: , , ,

This article is a state-of-the-art article about the use of technology in language learning and teaching with some commentaries of the author. In this article, the intended audience is researchers studying upon language learning and technology. Although some implications for teaching are also available in the article, those implications are about conducting an action research, particularly about the telecollaboration. There are some important points to consider before deciding to conduct a research by means of telecollaboration.

The aim of the article is to present the current controversies in the field of CALL and literature review of CALL with recommendations for teaching, research and further research. This article is composed of three sections – four controversies related to information and communication technologies, research findings, and implications for teaching and research. In the first section, the controversies are related to the status of CALL, theoretical grounding for technology based teaching and research, notions of effectiveness, and cultural neutrality of the computers. In the second section, research findings are categorized under three headings – computer mediated communication, electronic literacy and telecollaboration; and in the final section, the implications for teaching, research and further research are mentioned.

There is a section in the article asking “Should CALL still be called CALL?” on which I really think about in recent years. Actually, it is mentioned by Richard that computers are used very commonly in our daily lives and thus it should not be used as a separate device:

Given the high level of integration of digital technology in people’s everyday lives in many (but not all) parts of the world, Warschauer (1999a) has argued that the term computer-assisted language learning has outgrown its usefulness as a construct for teaching and research. The problem, Warschauer states, is that a CALL framework posits the computer as an “outside instrument rather than as part of the ecology of language use” (n.p.). While this may have been fine in the early days of CALL when computers were used to perform structural drills, it is no longer appropriate when online communication has become a normal part of daily life. For Warschauer, the use of computers should not be framed as a special case but rather as an integral aspect of language learning and language use (184-185).

As it is mentioned in the article, computers are integrated into our lives and we can not think of language learning and teaching without technology. Although we do not use them in our classes, we use them for our professional development, for developing personal learning network or just for searching for materials to use in the classroom. We talked about this issue with Vance Stevens a few weeks before and he said that another acronym is being used for this field nowadays: SMALL, which stands for Social Media Assisted Language Learning. This acronym fits quite well with what I have in my mind for the field. In recent years, I have always mentioned that CALL should be associated with communication, social networks and mostly collaboration. Computers are not tutors or teachers; they are just tools for communication, creating social networks and creating opportunities for our students.

Kern, R. (2006). Perspectives on technology in learning and teaching languages. TESOL Quarterly40(1), 183-210.

Warschauer, M. (1998). CALL vs. electronic literacy: Reconceiving technology in the language classroom. In Proceedings of the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research Information Technology Research Forum. London: Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research.

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Comments
  1. Great post! Technology is entering the education industry at an extremely high pace. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Gaming aspects are the next phase of innovation. Learning will be fun and interactive. Exciting stuff!

  2. sakayoglu says:

    Thank you for your comment Anthony,

    As you mentioned, the use of technology in education is spreading very rapidly and each and every day a new educational tool appears. However, the rationale behind all these innovations looks similar: to make people communicate with each other, work in collaboration and share.

    It seems that gaming and the use of virtual worlds will be popular and again the aforementioned keywords are important for these newly emerged tools.

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