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Options And Issues In Computer-assisted Language Learning

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

These two volumes superficially appear quite different one with a focus on teacher education, the other with a focus on what CALL is; one an edited volume, the other an integrated two-authored volume. However, when examined more closely, we see a synergy and a tension between the two topics. Indeed, the Levy and Stockwell volume could easily be used as a textbook for Jewelry Store a teacher education course on CALL; chapters within the volume could be used in different courses of a language teacher education curriculum. For example, a course on curriculum or materials design could very usefully include Chapter 2, Design. Both volumes draw heavily on published research, and provide a range of examples of CALL practice. Both emphasize the importance of context in using CALL and both present an international perspective, with Levy and Stockwell also drawing from languages other than English.

The primary tension comes from the premise in Levy and Stockwell that CALL constitutes 'an emerging semi-autonomous discipline' (p. 9) compared with Hubbard and Levy who refer to CALL as a field. In her foreward, Carol Chappelle states that 'CALL, [is] the strand of applied linguistics concerned with teaching and learning of second-languages through computer technology...' (p. vii). The position of Levy and Stockwell is reminiscent of the frequent request for a 'theory of CALL', which many of us involved in CALL thought had been laid to rest by many published arguments, most notably of Egbert, Chao and Hanson-Smith when they noted that ' [a] theory of CALL is a theory of language acquisition; the fact that the technology changes does not mean that the principles of language development do'. In a similar vein, Hoven claimed that 'it is not so much the computer but the kinds of Tiffany Jewelry tasks and activities that learners do on the computer that can make the difference' (Hoven 1999: 149). A further tension between the two volumes is that, while Levy and Stockwell cover a wide range of areas of CALL, they do not address the central issue of Hubbard and Levy, that is, teacher education and yet this has been shown to be vital for the adoption of CALL by language teachers.

Levy and Stockwell base their work on an analysis of a corpus of CALL journals and books collected between 1999 and July 2005. From this corpus, they identified the seven most frequent keyword descriptors, which they refer to as 'CALL dimensions': design, evaluation, computer-mediated communication (CMC), theory, research, practice, and technology. They then use these dimensions as an organizational structure for the volume, with each dimension assigned a chapter. These seven chapters are book-ended by an introduction (Chapter 1) and Chapters 9 and 10 which focus on integration and emergent and established CALL, respectively. This organization works well. Since CALL covers all aspects of language teaching and learning, the list of seven dimensions must not be seen as separate, distinct aspects of CALL. To address this issue, they focus the last two chapters on a more holistic, integrated view of CALL. Each of the seven dimensional chapters reviews recent literature; it identifies themes, and presents projects to illustrate the dimension.

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