Archive for the ‘CALL related teaching’ Category

Computers have emerged as fascinating technological tools in the
educational arena. Their use in classrooms as a tool for teaching holds a
great significance for language learning using computers in language learning
can go a long way in developing study skills in learners of engineering and
technology at the tertiary level.
Every learner is an individual with different needs and abilities of
learning a language. Traditional methods of teaching a language placed the
teacher in the role of a transmitter of knowledge while learners were seen as
passive recipients of this knowledge. With the advent of the communicative
method of language teaching, the focus in the classroom shifted from the
teacher to the learner. Current trends in the field of English Language
Teaching focus on learner autonomy, learner involvement, learner-generated
syllabi, creation of relaxed atmosphere for learning, and training to relate to
need-based learning. As a result, the concept of individualized instruction is
increasingly gaining importance.
In a sense, Study Skills are doing with getting information from any
subject from the relevant sources of knowledge. The main sources of
information for a learner are: a) books, b) classroom lectures, and c) the
world at large. Learners have to internalise the information provided by these
sources in the most efficient way in order to retain and retrieve it when
As for as school learners are concerned, when it comes to collecting
information from different sources, they mostly depend on reading the
textbooks and listening to teachers explaining the contexts of the textbook.
In identifying the source of knowledge and understanding the ways by which
the source of information, school learners mostly depend on reading the
textbooks and listening to teachers explaining the contents of the textbooks.
When they move from school to college their horizon of knowledge is
expected to expand. They are expected to take down notes while they listen
to lectures in the classroom. They are also expected to seek information from
various other sources and read more than one book for any given subject and
assimilate the information presented in them. This requires efficient ways of
reading. They need to organize this information and present it in their
assignments, examinations and projects.
But when it comes to training in learners receive study skills in colleges
at tertiary level, it is rather inadequate instead they are made to receive
dense information in a short time. Due to their inability to assimilate the input
they receive in various subjects, a sense of insecurity grips their minds.
The sense of insecurity thus gives rise to diffidence and makes them
take recourse to ‘memorization’ without proper comprehension. Such
cramming makes the knowledge received short lived and haphazard. What is
required is not learning long texts by rote, but developing an ability to take
down notes in the classroom. For, certainly the lectures given in classes
contain more details than what is given as ‘handouts’. Though reading,
summarizing, writing paragraphs, information transfer skills are included in
the syllabus in the first two semesters at the first year level in colleges, these
skills remain confined to the English classes alone and are not extended to
the learning of core subjects.
In this cyber age where, most of the academic activities are computer
directed the study skills particularly those related to receptive skills can be
effectively developed using Computer Assisted Language Learning method.
While talking about the computers and second language skills
development says that out of the four skills of language learning, the
receptive skills mainly, listening and reading can be commonly addressed by
CALL programmes. Hence, Study skills that fall in the category of receptive
skills can also be developed using the CALL method.
While using CALL materials in a language classroom, the computer
envisages an important role for the teacher. Though, the teachers do not
control the learning process they by integrating technology in their teaching
provide an excellent backup or support because, they can monitor the
linguistic performance and progress without directly interfering during the
learning process.
Teachers can also modify and adopt any CALL learning materials to
suite the learners needs and levels of competence. While using the CALL
materials the learners have the autonomy to identify and adopt the kind of
strategy that would best suit their learning style, choosing such a strategy
would also facilitate the learning process. Studies show that CALL materials
motivate the students for a better learning and provide them a stress free
The term “Study Skills” a general term, which encompasses a wide
variety of traits, is associated with personal growth and development ranging
from attitudes to behaviours.
Study Skills are skills acquired for the purpose of self-development or
for a good career. On the academic front, new learning styles, networking
with other students, acquiring communication skills, ability to listen to
lectures with concentration, reading a book and taking notes, participating in
classroom activities are some of the study skills.
The focus of teaching these skills centers around the individual
academic or personal growth. The basis for success in academics is hard
work, disciplined studying and acquiring the ability to critically assess. As
time is very precious, time management can also be considered as a Study
Study Skills also include reading academic texts efficiently and
effectively; taking notes from lectures and books; doing basic research; using
library or computer-based resources; writing academic papers; taking part in
discussions; presenting papers; managing study time and preparing for
Encouraging students to be creative and appreciating innovation in
students motivate students to excel at what they are doing. Teaching them to
plan projects inculcates a sense of responsibility and helping them to manage
these projects infuses a sense of accountability. By giving focus to these
different types of study skills the communication skills of learners can also be
developed by using CALL.
Note taking is another Study Skill, which has to be necessarily
developed in students. There are usually three main occasions, as Michael J.
Wallace says when notes are taken while listening.
There are three main occasions when notes are taken.
According to Michael J. Wallace (1998) they are:
a. to take down notes while listening.
b. to take down notes while reading.
c. to write notes from memory.
Similarly there three main reasons as to why note are taken down:
1. to have a record of the speaker’s own or writer’s main ideas.
2. to help one’s memory when revising, e.g. before an examination
3. to make what the speaker or writer says a part of your own
In order to inculcate this skill of note taking students can be trained to
use CALL as a technique of language learning. When it comes to taking down
notes while listening, a worksheet can be given and students can be asked to
listen to an audio text either from a CALL material or from an audio-text. The
worksheet can have a gap-filling task wherein the students while listening to
the text can fill up the gaps by using relevant information from the listened
text. The worksheet can be programmed in the CALL text. So that, the
evaluation will be instantaneous.
Reference skill is another important study skill, which must be
inculcated in students. Here, CALL has a major role to play because; even
though manual cataloguing is still available people prefer online catalogues.
An online catalogue is a list of the materials available in the library,
and this list can be accessed through the computer. Most libraries have an
online catalogue of holdings (e.g. books, journals, electronic publications and
audio-visual materials) available with them. So, it becomes the duty of the
English teacher to make the learners get familiar with the method of using
online cataloguing.
Computers and language learning are closely inter-related and the
judicious integration of both can enable students to organise and process
their knowledge at the touch of keyboard button. This innovative approach to
language learning, which is a variation from the conventional classroombased-
instruction, will definitely yield exciting and rewarding results in
language teaching.
Over the years, a wide variety of teaching aids have been placed at the
disposal of language teachers. Charts, slides, tape-recorders, videos,
overhead projectors and many other technological innovations have taken
the place of traditional chalk and board, though not completely. Computers
are the latest among the aids used for instructional purposes. Besides being
powerful and stimulating aids, computers offer great potential for language
Computers are effecting fundamental changes not only in the society
outside the classroom walls but also within them. The invasion of the
electronic media has revolutionised language teaching methodology.
Computers are now used as effective tools in teaching grammar, vocabulary,
syntax, and comprehension and even in developing interactive
communication skills and in creating writing activities.
While talking about bridging the gap between computers and language
teaching gives the perspective that CALL programmes have the potential to
be used as individual teaching programmes.
Advantages of a CALL classroom
Computer Assisted Language Learning enhances the motivation level
of students.
Teachers can customise any CALL program to the syllabus or course
design that they are using to increase the level of proficiency in
Computers are useful in-group activities as well as in imparting
individualised instruction, which is rarely possible in a traditional
There are no limitations with regard to practice-sessions or time.
Students can have as many practice-sessions as they wish, repeat the
tasks any number of times to acquire mastery and select the material
according to their individual requirements. Thus the computer is an
efficient learner-centred device.
It has a powerful self-access facility and gives immense scope for selflearning.
Teachers in language classes give students exercises to write. Students
most often do not revise or correct the scripts immediately even
though they are incorrect. The computer helps to reduce this handicap.
CALL software has tutorial modes, which help the students explore the
correct answers and learn from the errors they make.
As computers can store, access and analyse more data than books,
they create a technology enabled exciting learning environment.
Computers maximize learning opportunities for their students.
The immediate feedback given by computers helps the students to
analyse patterns in the language. The novelty that is an integral part of CALL
programmes increases the motivational level of students.
CALL programmes besides helping the learner to learn a
foreign language or a second language, also provides some computer
literacy which is becoming essential in a technological era, and could be of
great help in the future training and career prospects.
CALL programmes provide the information requested in a
very short time, almost instantaneously.
By using CALL method the students will not only learn more number of
words but also the usage of those words as well. The advantage of using
CALL method is that they can do the entire study skill activity at their own
pace and time using their own learning styles and strategies. Also,
integrating CALL with language teaching provides the learner with an
opportunity to become part of the skills. They are learning and address their
subject related issues by the study skills approach. Having introduced to CALL
method of learning at the tertiary level, the learners will continue the exercise
of study skills approach and achieve distinctive mastery in their subjects
when they come to their higher semesters.
The computer is a means of communication between the programmer
and the user. However in this analogy, the author and the programmer do not
mostly share similar concerns. While the author is bound to be a subject
expert, the programmer is mostly a technician. This gap between the author
and the programmer is responsible for inappropriate lesson content, poor
documentation, errors in format and content, improper feedback, etc. found
in some CALL materials. Likewise, in most of the software packages, there is
little chance for the teacher to add or modify the existing programmes, even
if he wishes too, since most of its locked to prevent pirating. And for the few
of those who develop their own material, the time spent on preparation and
programming can be quite lengthy running to hours and days.
But, these limitations or problems should be seen in the backdrop of a
development stage of computerisation. The rapidity with which computer
integrated activities and taking place in the academic sphere shows that the
drawbacks found in the CALL methods are only temporary. The next
generation of teachers and learners will be part of a computer generation.
They will take for granted the skills demanded by computer technology and
handle them as coolly as switching on a tape recorder or watching a
The language teacher, who has the prime objective to develop study
skills in learners, seeks to make an effective use of the computer-assisted
language learning method. An analysis of the methods discussed so far leads
the researcher to conclude that it is ultimately the teacher who has to be
more innovative, more resourceful, and more thoughtful to create awareness
in students about the importance of the study skills in English and to provide
opportunities to practice the language by using CALL.
Computers make excellent teaching tools, especially in teaching
languages in any aspect, be it vocabulary, grammar, composition,
pronunciation, or other linguistic and pragmatic-communicative skills. The
major benefits offered by computer in enhancing language acquisition
apparently outweigh its limitations.


Ask not what computers can do for language teaching; instead, ask what you can do for language teaching using computers
Takako Kawabata
Aichi Gakuin University
With the development of user-friendly computers and software and the rapid reduction in their prices in the last decade, the use of computers has become widespread and has expanded in homes, offices, and schools. In the 21st century, everyone is required to use computers to some extent to function in our society.
In Japan, in an educational context, audio language labs are gradually being replaced by computer centers with internet connections and university local area networks (LANs). With the introduction of computer-assisted learning (CAL) and the financial aids provided by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (Monbukagakusho), which aims to internationalize the education offered and researches conducted in Japanese universities, the implementation of computers at universities would be extended further in the future.
With regard to the use of computers in language teaching and learning, teachers and researchers have been testing and developing ways to implement computers in their teaching context since the 1960s when computers were first introduced as part of language teaching. However, many language teachers continue to be uncertain about the manner in which they can effectively use computers in the educational context. Since we are at the transition stage where we are moving from simply “using computers” to “using computers effectively” in our classroom, let us discuss what language teachers can do to assist the development of learners’ language acquisition using computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in our current teaching context.
Warshauer (1996) categorized the development of CALL into three main phases—behavioristic CALL, communicative CALL, and integrative CALL—which were the result of advancements in computer technology and changes in outlook toward language teaching.
CALL in the past
“Behavioristic CALL” was implemented in the 1960s and ’70s and was based on the behaviorist theories of learning, which included drill and practice. At this juncture, the use of computers and software in language teaching was, as Taylor (1980) describes, the “computer as a tutor.” One of the best known systems of its type was the PLATO system that included central computers and terminals and performed tasks such as vocabulary drills, grammar explanations and drills, and translation tests (Ahmad, Corbett, Rogers, & Sussex, 1985).
The next phase, i.e., the “communicative CALL,” introduced in the 1970s and ’80s was the result of a communicative approach, which was one of the mainstream methods in second/foreign language teaching at that time. Since this approach emphasized the process of communication and highlighted the use of the target language in real settings, the programs that appeared in this period featured practice in a non-drill format. Software that had not been specifically designed for CALL was also employed for writing practice. This type of application in CALL is the so-called “computer as a tool” (Brieley & Kemble, 1991).
CALL at present
Currently, we are at the “integrative CALL” stage, which is a result of the expansion of technological advancements such as multimedia technology and the Internet. These two innovations allow the learners to access a more authentic learning environment. As we know, multimedia enables one to integrate four skills, and the Internet provides opportunities to interact in an English language environment 24 hours a day. Although the scope of CALL has widened in the last 40 years, it is not yet a perfect solution for teaching/learning all aspects of a language. The quality of programs has not yet reached the level of assessing the users’ natural spoken language or the appropriateness of use in the context of the situation.
Implementation of CALL in literacy development
Since computers and software have not yet met the requirements in our educational context, it may appear plausible to await the advancement of technology; however, we should think about what the teachers can do to assist language learning using the equipment currently available? The use of computers in the context of foreign language teaching continues to offer a great deal of potential to support students’ literacy needs inside and outside the classroom. If we use computers in more interactive ways, they could be of great assistance in developing the learners’ language acquisition.
One potential use of computers in the classroom might be their use as a tool for monitoring. Since there are approximately 40 students in each classroom in Japanese schools and universities, it is difficult to monitor each student in a large classroom. First, the teacher could display a text using a projector and use it for the purpose of modeling or demonstrating. The students could then be asked to answer some comprehension questions and send their answers to the teacher’s computer. In this manner, computers could be introduced as a tool to confirm the learners’ understanding of a text. If a software capable of assessing learners’ literacy skills were developed, it would significantly assist teachers in conducting their classes.
The other potential use of computers might be in teaching students of different proficiency levels in the same classroom. Software such as that used for the test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) computer-based test modifies questions according to the test-taker’s responses. By implementing this type of software, students of a more advanced level could study further, while learners who require more support could stay and practice at the same level or study easier materials.
Computers can also be used as an exercise tool in the classroom or as a self-study tool before and after the class or at home. Each student can use a computer for drilling activities anytime and anywhere, at his/her own pace, without the teacher’s supervision. Students who have difficulty attending school due to geographical reasons or adult learners who do not have sufficient time to attend lessons might benefit from the use of computers and software. With regard to further literacy development, students could use computers for studying unfamiliar words, highlighting important words in a passage, and drawing arrows to show lexical chains in the text to recognize how the latter achieves its coherence. Still and moving pictures might also be used to assist the learners’ reading comprehension. Further, Japanese students living in non-English speaking environments would benefit greatly from the Internet, which provides opportunities to access materials written in English, since these students might have difficulty accessing authentic English texts.
Although computers have considerable potential in language teaching, the teacher’s role in the classroom continues to be very important since technology has not yet reached a level where it can be relied upon solely. Therefore, it would be better to implement software as a supplementary teaching tool along with the teacher’s input.
CALL in the future
The role of computers in language teaching has significantly changed in the past 40 years from merely “drill and exercises” to a somewhat “authentic communication” tool. This leads to the question of what the next generation of CALL will be? Underwood (1989) termed it as “intelligent CALL,” which involves the use of computers and programs with a certain level of intelligence. However, it might take a long time for “intelligent CALL” to be put into practice.
As pointed out by Warschauer (1996), “The effectiveness of CALL cannot reside in the medium itself but only in how it is put to use” (p. 6). Thus, my fellow teachers, ask not what computers can do for language teaching; instead, ask what you can do for language teaching using computers.

By Tim Bowen
In terms of the wider picture of language teaching and learning, it is sometimes easy to forget that computers have been available as a resource in language teaching for little more than twenty years. During this relatively short time, there has been a dramatic change in the number of options open to language teachers and learners. Initially, computers were mainly used as sophisticated typewriters, allowing learners to write and to correct and amend easily and effectively. Some basic interactive software was available in the early years, but this was generally restricted to the type of exercise found in grammar practice books with the added feature of a sound to indicate a correct or incorrect answer.
The real advance in the use of computers in language teaching came with the transition from floppy-disc to compact discs (CDs) as the basic form of software, the proliferation of e-mail as a means of communication and, most importantly, with the arrival of the Internet as a widely available resource. Today there is a vast array of language teaching material available on CD ROM or DVD, ranging from self-study materials to supplement published course-books, to ESP-based courses and culture-based materials. Many learners of English have access to e-mail and the Internet at home as well as at school and this presents teachers with a range of useful options in terms of setting writing tasks, communicating with learners by e-mail, giving learners research tasks and setting up project work based on researching the Internet. Where previously such tasks would have involved a great deal of letter writing on the part of both teacher and learners, on the one hand, and a potentially time-consuming visit to the local library on the other, they can now be accomplished quickly and easily without the learner ever having to leave his or her PC.
Although many learners seem to be much more familiar with the use of computers than a lot of teachers appear to be, there is still plenty of scope for some input in class related to computers. Basic terminology is a good starting point and a useful exercise may be the pronunciation of e-mail and internet addresses, such as or Similarly, there may be some value in teaching the meta-language of word processing (e.g. copy, cut, paste, insert), writing e-mails (e.g. reply, forward, delete) and surfing the Internet (e.g. search, link, key-word and so on). Many UK language schools are now responding to the specific needs of learners and offering computer-based options leading to word-processing qualifications such as the UK-based CLAIT, validated by the RSA, and the American MOUS qualification, validated by Microsoft. In both cases certificates are offered for different levels of competence from basic user to proficient user and both practice activities and examinations are offered “on-line”.
In terms of practical classroom activities to exploit the Internet, if teachers have access to several Internet-linked computers for use with their classes, there are numerous possibilities. Learners can fill-in on-line questionnaires, research specific topics, prepare presentations using on-line information, graphs and diagrams, find the answers to questions set by the teacher, do interactive grammar, vocabulary and even pronunciation exercises, read and summarize the latest news, and contribute to on-line discussions and debates. With technology advancing at breakneck speed, it sometimes seems difficult for teachers to keep up but remaining informed is crucial. Our learners may already be several steps ahead in this area and to retain credibility we need to be familiar with the latest developments in computer technology and to be able to integrate computers confidently into our everyday classroom practice.

Computers have recently become fully effective means in various aspects of language teaching. Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is a method of language teaching and learning in which computer technology is used as an aid to the presentation, storage and assessment of the material which is to be learned. Typical Computer-assisted language learning programs present any combination of text, images, sound or video. The user learns the language material by typing at the keyboard, pointing and clicking with the mouse, or speaking into a microphone. Modern Computer-assisted language learning software has embraced CD-ROM and DVD and a wide range of other new technologies, helping in teaching pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of the language.
One of the numerous trends of Computer-assisted language learning CALL software constitutes programs which deal with speech. There are two main groups of such programs: those which relate to speech recognition, that is the process of converting a speech to words, and those which relate to speech synthesis, that is the artificial production of human speech. These programs are called text-to-speech programs, using text to speech TTS technologies.
Computer-assisted pronunciation teaching with TTS software
It’s an open secret that text to speech and read aloud programs are extremely useful for language teaching and learning, especially for teaching pronunciation. Use your computer in language teaching and improve your pronunciation skills with Speaking Notepad – a read aloud program converting normal language text into speech. Speaking Notepad is the very text-to-speech program, which is designed not only for people with visual impairments or reading disabilities, but also this language teaching program can assist those who learn a foreign language, learn and teach pronunciation.
With Speaking Notepad you’ll be able:
• get to know pronunciation of words in a moment without searching them in pronunciation dictionaries
• listen to accurate pronunciation instead of reading transcriptions and guessing the pronunciation of every sound
• listen to pronunciation of a word or a phrase as many times as it is necessary for you
• practicing your pronunciation by repeating the phrase after the speaker and imitating his manner of pronunciation
• download numerous intelligible voices in different languages
• listen to texts in foreign languages and even record them to audio files
• use your computer in language teaching and learning
Speaking Notepad, being handy and powerful text to speech program, will turn routine language learning and pronunciation teaching into comfortable and productive pastime! Improve your pronunciation skills with ease and comfort by downloading Speaking Notepad – the most efficient way of both teaching and learning pronunciation.
If you are interested in computer programs which assist in language teaching and language learning, you’ll surely devote some attention to another text to speech TTS software 1st Read It Aloud – an indispensable helper in teaching pronunciation. Using this handy text to speech program you’ll enable your computer to read aloud any text selected in any application by single pressing the hot key. It means that 1st Read It Aloud can convert emails, notes, documents to speech without copying the text to be read aloud into the clipboard. Don’t muff the chance – download 1st Read It Aloud right now and make your computer assist you in language learning and pronunciation teaching.

Tips for Teaching with CALL: Practical Approaches to Computer-Assisted Language Learning [with CD]
Carol A. Chapelle and Joan Jamieson
ISBN 0132404281
US $52.00 (paperback)
240 pp.
White Plains, NY, USA
Tips for Teaching with CALL: Practical Approaches to Computer-Assisted Language Learning [with CD] is one of the latest additions to Pearson-Longman’s professional development series. Since the mid-1980s, a number of publications have tried to introduce, teach, support, and provide ideas to foreign language instructors on the use of computers in the classroom (Hardisty & Windeatt, 1989). Some of these volumes are intended to encourage language teachers to use computers (Axtell, 2007; Gooden, 1996; Szendeffy, 2005) while others suggest specific ways of implementing Internet-based language teaching (e.g., Clarke, 2000; Griffin, 2006; Lee, Jor, & Lai, 2005; Sperling, 1998; Windeatt, Hardisty, & Eastment, 2000). In contrast to these titles, Tips for Teaching with CALL largely deals with Web sites that could be valuable for ESL/EFL teachers who are either beginning to implement CALL in their classes or who want to improve their teaching skills through computer based practice. In this sense, the book bears a certain resemblance to Sperling’s (1998) volume on Internet-based CALL, but, in contrast, Chapelle and Jamieson’s book also includes screenshots of the Web sites mentioned by the authors, and the authors relate the use of these Web sites to current language acquisition theory. Overall, the book will mostly benefit general practitioners, teachers who may be familiar with computers but are just beginning to use CALL in their classes, and expert teachers who may be looking for new materials.
For Chapelle and Jamieson, teachers play a decisive role in providing opportunities for learning and balancing online, in-class, and out-of-class activities. The authors also believe in the value of Internet-based resources, such as dictionaries, tutorials, and online libraries (Loucky, 2005). In their opinion, Web sites and technology “perform functions similar to what many teachers do in class and through textbooks” (p. 6) in serving as teaching tools and providing opportunities for language learning, and multimedia software is an excellent source of input at each student’s proficiency level.
Chapelle and Jamieson place special emphasis on the following ideas: (1) language learners should proceed steadily by learning structures and vocabulary that is just a little above their current knowledge (cf. Krashen, 1982); (2) language needs to be noticed in order to be learned (Hegelheimer & Chapelle, 2000); (3) interaction with peers is essential to developing learners’ communicative competence; and (4) learning strategies are necessary for language learning (Vinther, 2005). Besides, according to the authors, “teachers can guide students to be more autonomous” (p. 207).
Tips for Teaching with CALL consists of a book and an interactive CD-ROM. While the book presents the content, “tips and their rationale and examples” (p. 9), the CD provides examples of what is presented in the book. The book is divided into eight chapters with corresponding units on the CD, plus a preface, an introduction titled “What is CALL?” and a conclusion called “After Class.” The topics addressed in the chapters focus on the following language skills and content areas: vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, listening, speaking, communication skills, and Content-Based Language. Each chapter follows exactly the same structure: an introduction, between five and six teaching tips to develop the activities suggested in each section of the chapter, a description of the intended outcomes of the chapter called “What It Means,” a research review that links practical cases to research literature called “What the Literature Says,” and suggestions for the utilization of the content in the classroom “What Teachers Can Do.” The chapters are illustrated with color screenshots of existing CALL software programs, along with descriptions, the minimum proficiency level of the students for whom each activity is designed, and notes for implementing the activity, with a total of more than 100 examples of Web sites and software programs across the eight chapters. The authors also mention how students will need to interact with the computer and other students in each activity, how teachers should proceed with the ELT/ESL pedagogical assessment and feedback provision, and finally, how they can teach and reinforce both language learning and strategic computer competence.
The CD-ROM uses images and video clips to illustrate the contents of the book through demonstrations of learners using CALL software and simulations that guide them through authentic CALL materials. According to the authors, the demonstration “is a real-time video that shows how a learner might perform an activity” (p. 9), while the simulation “guides teachers through an activity as if they were students” (p. 9). Both demonstrations and simulations are divided into the same units (or chapters) as presented in the book (Figure 1).
The CD can be motivating and helpful for teachers who may want to see applications of what has been presented in the book. Each activity on the CD is connected with the tips presented in the book (either through a demonstration or simulation) and has three main parts: goals and instructions for an activity, the activity itself, and a summary and description of the purpose of the activity.
The book begins with a nine-page introduction that provides a definition of CALL, a basic notion of language learning theory emphasizing the importance of the communicative approach in CALL, and the role of computers in ELT/ESL pedagogy. In addition, the authors introduce three basic principles of language that guide their selection of activities in the book:
a) Learners need guidance in learning English.
b) There are many styles of English used for many different purposes.
c) Teachers should provide guidance by selecting appropriate language and structuring learning activities. (p. 3)
A fourth principle, although not explicitly mentioned is that computers trigger communication between teachers and students and among students by providing appropriate input, especially in listening, reading, and vocabulary, and by facilitating oral communication.
Chapter one focuses on vocabulary, which, in the authors’ words, “is the most important aspect of language for students to learn” (p. 11), and that it is worth “spend[ing] time and effort studying vocabulary” (p. 11). According to Chapelle and Jamieson, the Internet gives “sufficient exposure to words in English that [students] hear or read” (p. 11). In the section “Tips for teaching vocabulary with CALL,” Chapelle and Jamieson stress that vocabulary is best taught when words have the appropriate level of difficulty, which can be identified by examining a word’s frequency, but missing for the reader are other criteria to support this condition. The authors remind readers of “including vocabulary illustration, explanation and practice … in [a] meaningful context” (p. 17), “looking at sentences from a corpus that contains key words” (p. 24), and using Web sites that can promote autonomous learning. Additionally, the CD ROM demonstrates how to foster communication among learners while building vocabulary skills. For instance, in the demonstration, two learners help each other to solve a puzzle. The CD reproduces the conversation between two students and shows how they solve the vocabulary task. The simulation section shows how the learners implement Tip Number Six (“Help students to develop strategies for explicit online vocabulary learning through the use of online dictionaries and concordancers” by using Compleat Lexical Tutor ( This chapter offers some motivating activities to approach vocabulary learning. While some of these interesting activities (such as crosswords or image identification) rarely take place in the classroom, students may do them individually through the Web sites presented in this chapter. This chapter clearly supports the importance of lexis in language learning. The authors even mention that “vocabulary is the most important aspect of language for students to learn” (p. 11) but they do not clearly establish whether computer based vocabulary learning is an explicit or implicit process or just even why they consider such importance. Readers will see that although Chapelle and Jamieson believe that “most students believe that they need to study vocabulary” (p. 11), little support is given to demonstrate this idea or even the implications of learning vocabulary through CALL. Nevertheless, this chapter is potentially key for understanding the rest of the book because the authors go on to emphasize the importance of vocabulary teaching in the following chapters.
Chapter two deals with grammar and follows the same structure as Chapter One. Although many teachers and students consider grammar important, the authors recommend “not to plan a syllabus around grammatical points” (p. 39). When presenting their tips, Chapelle and Jamieson assert that grammar activities presented on many Web sites are numerous, but many “are rather limited, as context is often at sentence level and practice is often in the form of recognition [instead of meaningful production]” (p. 41). They recommend CALL software with discourse-level activities, such as listening “to a part of a dialogue and then producing the target form orally” (p. 43). Chapter Two also includes suggestions for using cartoons or movies for grammar learning which are available online. For example, a very attractive exercise suggested in the CD Rom is completing sentences with Understanding and Using Grammar-Interactive (, but the program offers a larger variety of grammar exercises. Additionally, the authors give examples of Web-based activities that provide “grammar assessment and feedback about correctness both before and after instruction” (p. 53), as well as ideas for developing students’ learning strategies. The CD-Rom demonstrates Tip Four, “Include evaluation of students’ regular responses and regular summaries of their responses,” by using Understanding and Using English Grammar–Interactive software ( In this demonstration, a learner completes a grammar test, looks at the scores, and accesses a tutorial with grammar explanations. In the simulation of Tip Five, “Help learners to develop strategies for learning grammar from texts on the Web through explicit grammar and inductive learning,” students can learn how to search for a structure in an online corpus, compare its distribution across genres, and see example sentences in the View Web site (

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.

By Kenneth Beare, Guide
There has been much debate over the use of computer assisted language learning (CALL) in the ESL/EFL classroom over the past decade. As you are reading this feature via the Internet (and I am writing this using a computer), I will assume that you feel that CALL is useful to your teaching and/or learning experience.

There are many uses of the computer in the classroom. In today’s feature I would like to provide some examples of how I like to use CALL in my teaching. I find that CALL can be successfully employed not only for grammar practice and correction, but also for communicative activities. As most of you are familiar with the programs that offer help with grammar, I would like to focus on the use of CALL for communicative activities.

Successful communication learning is dependent on the student’s desire to participate. I’m sure most teachers are familiar with students who complain about poor speaking and communication skills, who however, when asked to communicate, are often reluctant to do so. In my opinion, this lack of participation is often caused by the artificial nature of the classroom. When asked to communicate about various situations, students should also be involved in the actual situation. Decision making, asking for advice, agreeing and disagreeing, and compromising with fellow students are all tasks that cry out for “authentic” settings. It is in these settings that I feel CALL can be used to great advantage. By using the computer as a tool to create student projects, research information and provide context, teachers can employ the computer to help students become more involved in the task at hand, thereby facilitating the necessity of effective communication within a group setting.

Exercise 1 Focus on Passive Voice

Generally, students coming from around the world are more than happy to speak about their native country. Obviously, when speaking about a country (city, state etc.) the passive voice is required. I have found the following activity using the computer to be of great assistance in helping students focus on the correct use of the passive voice for communication and reading and writing skills.
• Inductively review the passive structures in class (or introduce the passive structures)
• Provide a text example, focusing on a specific location, that includes many passive voice structures
• Have students read through the text
• As a follow up, have students separate passive voice and active voice examples
• Using a program such as Microsoft Encarta or any other multimedia encyclopaedia, (or the Internet) have students working in small groups find information about their own nation (or any city, state etc.)
• Based on the information they have found, students then write a short report together at the computer (using a spell check, communicating about formatting etc.)
• Students then report back to the class presenting their report created at the computer

This exercise is a perfect example of involving students in an “authentic” activity that focuses on communication skills while at the same time including a grammar focus, and uses the computer as a tool. Students have fun together, communicate in English and are proud of the results they achieve – all ingredients for successful inductive learning of the passive voice in a communicative manner.

Exercise 2 Strategy Games

For younger learners of English, strategy games can be one of the most effective ways to get students to communicate, agree and disagree, ask for opinions and generally use their English in an authentic setting. Students are asked to focus on the successful completion of a task such as solving riddles (Myst, Riven) and developing strategies (SIM City).
• Choose a strategy game such as a SIM or mystery
• Have students divide into teams
• Create a specific task in the game itself, such as the completion of a certain level, the creation of a certain type of environment, the solving of a specific riddle. This is important for providing a framework and specific language needs/goals for a common ground in the classroom.
• Have students complete the task.
• Have students come together in the classroom and compare strategies.

Once again, students who find it difficult to participate in a classroom setting (Describe your favourite holiday? Where did you go? What did you do? etc.) generally become involved. The focus is not on their completing a task which can be judged as correct or incorrect, but rather on the enjoyable atmosphere of team work which a computer strategy game provides.

These are just a two examples of the various ways in which a computer can be used as a tool with which students are encouraged to participate in satisfying communicative experiences. Below are further links providing information on the use of the computer in the classroom