FAQ CALL Questions

Posted: December 20, 2010 in CALL related teaching

“Most of my colleagues are excited about using computers”

I conditionally agree with this statement. Most of my colleagues are indeed excited by the idea of using computers. Unfortunately, when the actual task of using and learning how to use the computer is approached, many colleagues quickly become less enthused. Those colleagues that do invest the time find computers quite helpful. Those colleagues that do not generally sour in their attitude towards computers.

“Most of my students would be excited about using computers”

Once again, I would answer with a qualified yes. There are a few factors involved in getting students excited about using computers. Students need to have had at least a little experience using computers; otherwise they might find computers intimidating. The CALL program at a school also needs to have enough facilities to allow each student frequent usage of a computer. Most importantly, the teacher must be enthusiastic about and proficient in using the computer in order to get students excited about using computers.

“Computers are going to revolutionise the way English is learnt”

I do not agree with this statement. I think the way English is learnt will remain the same and change only in pedagogical approaches. I think that the tools we use in order to practise the way we learn may be augmented by the use of computers. However, the exercises and approach will fundamentally have to be changed by the professionals themselves. The computer can only assist in providing improved implementation of these approaches.

“Computers are no more than an expensive gimmick”

I strongly disagree with this statement. If time is invested in learning to use a computer well, the computer can be a wonderful teaching aid and self-study guide. To cite just one example: The Internet – by using the Internet, students can chat in real-time with other students, study grammar, do listening and correspond with other students from all over the world. All of these activities can be chosen by the student with the student’s own interests in mind. This approach can often be more motivating than having the materials chosen for him/her by the teacher.

“Computers are needed both in the classroom and in a self access centre”

In a perfect world, I would agree with this statement. In order to use the computer effectively there could be nothing better than having computers in the classroom, as well as in the self access centre. In this way, the computer could become a tool used on a daily basis. Students could work on projects while other students focus on different tasks. Computers in the self access centre would also become an extension of the classroom instead of being an exotic novelty.

“Students should work individually at all times on computers as this stops arguments”

I strongly disagree with this statement. Students should work in groups on computers as often as possible! Arguments are a type of communication. Discussion that is generated in this manner, if in English, can only benefit students.

“CALL is only relevant for developing writing and reading skills”

Once again, I strongly disagree with this statement. CALL can effectively be used for listening skills – by use of multimedia and Internet listening programs, speaking and communication skills – by working in small groups, using multi-media programs with pronunciation functions, and through email and chat room via Internet, grammar skills – by the host of grammar practice multi-media programs available on the market.

“You need to be technically minded to use a computer”

I agree with this statement. Even though computer use is becoming easier every day, certain problems do arise when using the computer. By being technically minded it is easier to solve these problems. However, if a teacher is not technically minded, it must be remembered that learning to use the computer is no more difficult than learning to teach the simple present. Therefore, I think that we all easily have the technical know-how to use a computer effectively.

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