From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is an
approach to language teaching and learning in which computer
technology is used as an aid to the presentation, reinforcement
and assessment of material to be learned, usually including a
substantial interactive element.
Early CALL favoured an approach that drew heavily on
practices associated with programmed instruction. This was
reflected in the term Computer Assisted Language Instruction
(CALI), which originated in the
and was in common use until the early
when CALL became the dominant term. Throughout the 1980s CALL
widened its scope, embracing the communicative approach and a
range of new technologies, especially
communications technology. An alternative term to CALL
emerged in the early
namely Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL),
which was felt to provide a more accurate description of the
activities which fall broadly within the range of CALL. The term
TELL has not, however, gained as wide an acceptance as CALL.
Typical CALL programs present a stimulus to which the learner
must respond. The stimulus may be presented in any combination
of text, still images, sound, and motion video. The learner
responds by typing at the keyboard, pointing and clicking with
the mouse, or speaking into a microphone. The computer offers
feedback, indicating whether the learner’s response is right or
wrong and, in the more sophisticated CALL programs, attempting
to analyse the learner’s response and to pinpoint errors.
Branching to help and remedial activities is a common feature of
Wida Software (London,
UK) was one of the first specialist businesses to develop
CALL programs for microcomputers in the early 1980s. Typical
software of the first generation of CALL included Wida's "Matchmaster"
(where students have to match two sentence halves or anything
else that belongs together); "Choicemaster"
(the classic multiple-choice test format); "Gapmaster"
(for gapped texts); "Textmixer"
(which jumbles lines within a poem or sentences within a
(a learner's own private vocabulary database, complete with a
definition and an example sentence in which the word to be
learned is used in a context); and "Storyboard"
(where a short text is blotted out completely and has to be
restored from scratch). Wida's packages continue to be popular
and are now merged into one general-purpose, multimedia
authoring program known as "The Authoring Suite":
Storyboard-type activities, also known as "total cloze"
activities, have been popular for many years. The concept
originated from Tim Johns, subsequently modified by John
Higgins. A variety of total cloze programs have appeared over
the years, including "Copywrite" (part of the "Fun with Texts"
package), "Quartext", "Eclipse" and "Rhubarb".
Other CALL activities in the early days of computer use in
schools included working with generic packages such as
word-processors, which revolutionised text production
assignments by enabling language learners to continually revise
peer reviewed what they are writing before printing out the
final version of their composition.
Current CALL software has embraced
technology, and there is growing interest in Web-based CALL (see
Felix 2001), whole-class teaching with interactive whiteboards,
and the use of blogs and podcasts.
Pedagogical and methodological
Fascinated by the new technology in the early days of CALL,
many teachers focused on technological issues, neglecting
pedagogical and methodological questions and not realising that
innovative pedagogy and methodology were required to integrate
satisfactorily the use of computers into the foreign languages
curriculum. A point of criticism which could easily be refuted
was the claim that students tended to be isolated from their
classmates when working in a computer lab - the "battery
chicken" syndrome. It was soon discovered that using computers
in language classes could promote team work among students and,
if planned well, could also encourage them to use the target
language to communicate in front of their computers, thus
increasing the time they spent practising their oral skills.
Piper A. (1986) "Conversation and the computer: a study of
the conversational spin-off generated among learners of English
as a Foreign Language working in groups", System 14, 2: 187-198.
Whole-class teaching, which was a feature of early CALL -
because schools could only afford one computer per classroom -
is now making a comeback with the introduction of
An approach to CALL that can be considered innovative is the
use of concordance programs - dubbed Data Driven Learning by Tim
Johns. This approach dates back to the early 1980s and is now
widely used, especially by teachers of English for Speakers of
Other Languages (ESOL). See Module 2.4 at the ICT4LT website,
concordance programs in the modern foreign languages
Generally speaking, however, CALL
methodology continue to lag behind the
A recent approach has been to see CALL in relation to other
technologies in society, and to stress the possibility that
computers may only become fully effective in language teaching
and learning when they have become "normalised".
Normalisation of CALL, in this analysis, will be achieved
when we use computers every day in language teaching as we use
pens and books, without excessive expectations and without undue
fear. Normalisation could therefore be seen as potentially a
valuable aim and agenda for the profession (Bax 2003).
The current situation
The ICT4LT website contains a wealth of information on CALL
that describes the current situation in CALL. The site was set
up with the aid of European Commission funding, aiming to
provide a comprehensive set of ICT training resources for
For exploring language learning environments such as the
Moodle LMS (learning management system), there are communities
such as Moodle for Language Teaching:
- See the
ICT4LT Resource Centre for a select bibliography on
- See also EUROCALL's
CALL bibliography. This is a comprehensive list of CALL
publications, including other bibliographies on the Web.
- ATALL (Autonomous Computer-Assisted Language Learning)
ATALL Wikibook. See also Littlemore J. (2001) Learner
autonomy, self-instruction and new technologies in language
learning: current theory and practice in higher education in
Europe. In Chambers A. & Davies G. (eds.) ICT and language
learning: a European perspective, Amsterdam: Swets &
Zeitlinger (now taken over by Taylor & Francis). David
Little has also published widely on learner autonomy in the
context of CALL, e.g. Little D. (1991) Learner autonomy:
definitions, issues and problems, Dublin: Authentik
- Bax S. (2003) CALL - past, present and future, System
- CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) journal,
Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, Oxfordshire:
http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/ (formerly published by
Swets & Zeitlinger).
- Chapelle C. (2001). Computer applications in second
language acquisition: foundations for teaching, testing and
research, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Cheon Heesook (2003) The viability of Computer Mediated
Communication in the Korean secondary EFL classroom, The
Asian EFL Journal Vol 5, 1:
- Davies G. (1997) "Lessons from the past, lessons for the
future: 20 years of CALL". In Korsvold A-K. & Rüschoff B.
(eds.) New technologies in language learning and teaching,
Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Also on the Web at:
- Davies G. (2005) "Computer Assisted Language Learning:
Where are we now and where are we going?". Keynote paper
given at the UCALL conference, University of Ulster, June
- Davies G., Bangs P., Frisby R. & Walton E. (2005)
Setting up effective digital language laboratories and
multimedia ICT suites for Modern Foreign Languages, London:
- de Szendeffy J. (2005)
A practical guide to using computers in language teaching,
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Egbert J. & Hanson-Smith E. (eds.) (1999) CALL
environments: research, practice and critical issues,
Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
- Felix U. (2001) Beyond Babel: language learning online,
Melbourne: Language Australia.
- Fitzpatrick A. & Davies G. (eds.) (2003) "The Impact of
Information and Communications Technologies on the Teaching
of Foreign Languages and on the Role of Teachers of Foreign
Languages". This is a comprehensive report commissioned by
the EC Directorate General of Education and Culture.
- Fotos S. & Browne C. (eds.) (2004) New perspectives on
CALL for second language classrooms, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
- Jarvis H. (2005) Technology and change in English
Language Teaching (ELT), The Asian EFL Journal Vol 7, 1:
- Language Learning and Technology: A specialist CALL
journal available only on the Web:
- Levy M. (1997) CALL: context and conceptualisation,
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- ReCALL: The Journal of EUROCALL, now published by
Cambridge University Press - login at
http://www.journals.cup.org. Back numbers are available
- Son J.-B. (ed.) (2004) Computer Assisted Language
Learning: concepts, contexts and practices, Lincoln, NE:
- Warschauer M. (1996)
Computer-assisted language learning: an introduction. In
Fotos S. (ed.) Multimedia language teaching, Tokyo: Logos
- Warschauer M. & Healey D. (1998)
Computers and language learning: an overview, Language
- Wenger E. (1998)
Community of practice: learning as a social system.
APACALL: Asia-Pacific Association for CALL.
CALICO: US-based professional association devoted to
CALL. Manages a regular annual conference.
JALTCALL: Japan-based professional association devoted
to CALL. Coordinates an annual conference and the JALTCALL
PacCALL: Professional CALL association in the Pacific:
from East to Southeast Asia, Oceania, across to the
PacCALL Australia: Australian Chapter of the Pacific
EUROCALL: Europe-based professional association devoted
to CALL. Manages a regular annual conference.
IALLT: US-based International Association for Language
Learning Technology. IALLT is a professional organisation
dedicated to promoting effective uses of media centres for
language teaching, learning, and research. Manages regular
Learning Technologies Special Interest Group The
Learning Technologies Special Interest Group of the
International Association of Teachers of English as a
Foreign Language. This UK-based group runs a variety of
events and produces a regular newsletter.
TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages, CALL Interest Section.
WorldCALL: A worldwide association devoted to CALL and
embracing other leading professional associations. The
WorldCALL 2008 conference will take place in Japan.
Journals dedicated to CALL
Teaching English with Technology (IATEFL Poland)
CALL-EJ On-line (online journal)
Computer Assisted Language Learning: An International
CALL Review The International Association of Teachers of
English as a Foreign Language Learning Technologies Special
Interest Group's regular newsletter
IALLT Journal (International Association for Language
JALTCALL Journal (Japan Association of Language Teaching
- Computer-Assisted Language Learning Special Interest
- ON-CALL (Australia) Archives only - now incorporated
Language Learning and Technology (online journal)
ReCALL (European Association for Computer-Assisted
Journals that regularly include CALL
Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning (ATALL)
List of Educational Software
Intelligent computer-assisted language instruction
Langwidge - Various experiments on using software for
Languages ICT - Languages ICT Website: A website for
people interested in ICT and languages, maintained by CILT
and the Association for Language Learning.
Graham Davies's Freestuff - Links to free materials and
articles on CALL by Graham Davies, Emeritus Professor of
Computer Assisted Language Learning.
gradint a program for self-study of foreign languages
(cross-platform; requires data to be added)
Heavner a wiki like language learning system.