The emergence of CALL
This chapter introduces Computer-Assisted-Language Learning (CALL) and offers deﬁnitions of it and various related terms and concepts. It also brieﬂy outlines new ideas that need to be included in the research agenda for CALL.
1.1 A broad discipline
Given the breadth of what may go on in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), a deﬁnition of CALL thataccommodates its changing nature is any process in which a learner uses a computer and, as a result, improves his or her language. Although this deﬁnition might seem unworkably large, it at least encompasses a broad spectrum of current practice in the teaching and learning of language at the computer. An awareness of this spectrum allows learners, teachers and researchers to recognize appropriatematerials and methodologies and adapt others to various teaching and learning styles.
Concept 1.1 The teacher as researcher The division between teachers and researchers has narrowed. Teachers are now much more likely to be involved in some form of research, such as Action Research (see Section 9.7 Action Research) investigating issues in the classroom. Also increasingly involved in researchare the most common subjects of the research itself: learners. When learners participate in the research process, they bring insights that may otherwise be overlooked.
TE A C H I NG AN D R E S E ARC H I N G C O M P U T E R - AS S I ST E D L A NG U A G E L E A R N I NG
CALL covers a broad range of activities which makes it difﬁcult to describe it as a single idea or simple researchagenda. CALL has come to encompass issues of materials design, technologies, pedagogical theories and modes of instruction. Materials for CALL may include those which are purpose-made for language learning and those which adapt existing computer-based materials, video and other materials. However, in the midst of so many directions, it is necessary to attempt to examine CALL practice in order togive a context to what has been tried and found wanting in the general area of language learning at the computer. It is also important to establish a sense of the directions in which future practice and research might proﬁtably venture. Because of the changing nature of computers, CALL is an amorphous or unstructured discipline, constantly evolving both in terms of pedagogy and technologicaladvances in hardware and software. Change is also occurring with advances in computer literacy and related literacies among both teachers and learners. However, Warschauer (2009) cites a study of New York middle school students by Attewell and Winston (2003) to explain that students’ digital literacies are not always mirrored in improvements in their basic reading and writing skills, as seen in thefollowing example:
As image after image ﬂashes by, . . . it becomes noticeable how rarely, how lightly, Kadesha settles on printed text. Like many of her friends, she reads far below grade level. So she energetically pursues images and sounds on the Web, but foregoes even news of her love interest if that requires her to read (Attewell and Winston, 2003, p. 117).
This is a warning for teachers tobe aware of the many ways in which CALL is employed, both in and out of the classroom; there should be no assumptions that ‘working’ online is providing transferable skills that are of use in the real world. In some commercial applications meant to be used by individuals away from the home, CALL is dubiously promoted as a complete method of learning a language, although not backed up withempirical evidence. In classrooms, time at the computer can be used both as a reward for better learners or a remedial aid for weaker ones. Language labs, originally built for listening practice, now integrate CALL with teachers using CALL activities based on email, the World Wide Web (WWW) and even mobile telephones to supplement student learning. Delivery methods for CALL include the use of individual...