Creative Technology and Second Language Acquisition




Contents


I. Introduction
II. CALL
Commercial Software
WWW
Presentation Software
Authoring Software
Games and Simulations
Technology in FL Teacher Preparation Programs
III. Personal Experiences
Resources
References

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I. Introduction

The use of technology as a tool for teaching second language (L2) learners is gaining more and more attention as educators become aware of its ability to generate both independent and collaborative learning settings in which students can acquire and practice a new language. Through the use of the Internet, word processors, multimedia, hypermedia and drill and practice programs, students can engage in individualized instruction designed to meet their specific needs and participate in collaborative efforts that promote communication with peers in both their classrooms and throughout the global community.

II. CALL


A. Definition

CALL is the acronym for Computer-Assisted Language Learning and how computers are used for language teaching and learning. The goal of CALL is the same as that of foreign language education, which is to provide students the resources and experiences that will allow them to speak, read, write, and listen in the target language, as well as the cultural foundation about the people and language they are studying. The incorporation of the computer into the foreign language classroom has been an important tool for the foreign language teacher and student and is one among many of the tools available for teaching and learning another language.


B. History

After World War II, there was a major emphasis placed on learning foreign languages. During this period, the audio-lingual method was formed and relied heavily on the notion of repetition of language. As a result, during the 1960s and 1970s, universities all around the nation began building foreign language labs where students could go to listen to recordings of native speakers engaged in conversation. Although this seemed like a good idea at the time, instructors realized that students were not attending these labs like they should and they were also not gaining by them because students complained that the information was often boring and pedagogically contrived. By the time the audio-lingual method fell out of favor, the language lab has all but today been eliminated. CALL emerged during the 1960s to investigate how computers could be applied to foreign language instruction in a tertiary educational setting. Most of the software used for early CALL was obtained by universities for different disciplines. During this era, the computer was perceived as an aid for language teaching, rather than a tutor because of its limited functionalities. It really wasn't until the early 1990s that the full possibilities of computer assisted language learning became realized because computers became more powerful and sophisticated. They were able to be used for a variety of purposes that were not possible in the past. With the more powerful computers also came the ability to connect multimedia devices.


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C. Theories


Psycholinguistic theory:
Computers serve as the main connection for long distance learners of a L2, but in actuality language experts appear skeptical of the learners accuracy and production of the L2 while using computer programs. When learning a L2 at a distance, language experts wonder about the input and quality of the L2. The language experts also reflect on the environment and the authomaticity of the computer tasks that surrounds the L2 learners. The experts evaluate interactive chat rooms, emails, discussion boards with the participation of L2 learners and L1. The lack of assistance and proximity between teachers and L2 learners is of high concern. The distance learning of a L2 sometimes could be the only element of the L2 learning experience, still language experts recommend that distance language programs should be carefully planned and on the basis of clear understanding of the L2 learners need. This theory is mostly concern with the structure and grammatical input and output of L2 that long distance learners receive.

Behaviorist Theory:
CALL started with the behaviorist learning model based on repetitive language drills, and practice method. In 1960, the computer was consider more than a mechanical tutor and the behaviorist CALL was first design around the mainframe and best-known tutorial system, PLATO that ran on its own special hardware. Similar to this tutorial system the behaviorist CALL was producing drills, explicit grammar instructions, and translation of test. ( Kwang-wu Lee)
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Lee-CALLbarriers.html

Communicative Theory:
Communicative CALL appeared by the 1970's and 80's according to Lee's article this approach rose to eliminate the behaviorist CALL. The behaviorist approach was rejected at the pedagogical and theoretical level. CALL needed to concentrate on the usage of the forms instead of the forms themselves. The excess of grammatical forms and the lack of communicative competence caused the emersion of new theories, such as cognitive theories in where the L2 learner creates, processes, discovers, and develops new forms of vocabulary and expressions. The communicative CALL allowed L2 learners to simulate and to reconstruct text. The L2 teachers were please with this new development on CALL.

Integrative Theory:
This form introduces L2 learners to real-life situations. The context and concepts of the task are real and meaningful to the L2 learners. This form also exposed L2 learners to the four skills of learning a foreign language, writing, listening, speaking and reading. This was the last integration to CALL which allowed learners to acquire and process valuable communicative information while publishing and offering the tools that are necessary for the learning of the L2.

C.2 Salaberry asserts that four questions can help us evaluate the value of technology in the teaching environment:
1) Does more sophisticated technology correlate with more effective teaching?
2) Which aspects of a new technology can be specifically exploited for teaching?
3) How can technology be successfully implemented in the curriculum?
4) Are human and material resources efficiently used with new technologies?

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D. Examples of CALL

Commercial Software (CD-ROMs)
Several language CD-ROMs are available on the market for teachers. They should become familiar with them, decide how the software can best supplement their class instruction, and then create assignments for their students to work with them in a Multimedia Lab.

World Wide Web
Another way of using computer technology is to use the web. From informational pages to interactive exercises, the WWW is a valuable resource for language teachers. The WWW is also another source of information for students that is more authentic than we as teachers can provide in a classroom setting. Creating webquests for students to complete on cultural topics either during class in a language lab or as homework can enhance the language learning process as well.
Yet another interesting tool is the use of online streaming video in the classroom. This is a dynamic solution to the problem of presenting fresh material that the students can relate to. Additionally, online streaming video can be effectively used in teaching culture. While it isn't realistic to have a real bullfight in the classroom on a culture day, it is possible to play a clip of a bullfight online.

Other Internet Applications
The Internet is not just the world wide web. It's a means of communication. Instructors can incorporate e-mail activities very effectively into language classes. Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is an easy (and cheaper) way to create an environment for students to communicate with native speakers of the language. Furthermore, teachers can take advantage of listservs, discussion boards, chat rooms, MOOs (real-time, text-based communication environments), blogs, podcasts, and wikis.
The article by Douglas Canfield (2006) mentions the importance of programs like Skype that has been effective in countries like France and lately USA and Canada for L2 teaching purpose. Skype is a peer-to-peer internet telephony program that allows conversations with anyone else in the world. This program offers authentic and real communication in the target language to L2 learners. The L2 teacher could arrange conversations with native speakers of other countries for the L2 learners. This interactive program could be assisted by the L2 teacher for L2 learners inside and outside the classroom. Skype facilitates communication with other Skype users, is easy to use, and can be downloaded for free. http://www.itap.purdue.edu/tlt/conference/2006/tltproposals/synch2.cfm

Presentation Software
Presentation softwares, such as Powerpoint, can be used to prepare lectures and to simulate conversation in the second language. Individual slides can present content, images to describe, or questions for reflection. Presentations can be viewed by the whole class onto a large screen, or students can view them on individual computers at their own convenience.
About Powerpoint
Get Powerpoint Viewer

Authoring Software
Authoring software such as Speechlab allows teachers to prepare exercises, language drills and activities for your students, which can be made available in a Multimedia Lab. Other authoring programs like HyperStudio and Photo Story 3 are specifically designed for the creation of story and picture books. Also, the cost-free authoring program Audacity can be used by teachers to create listening texts for students or for students to create their own listening file to share with the class or with key pals from the target culture.
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Games and simulations
Intelligent games such as The Sims have been created to educate and entertain L2 students. The Sims intelligently combines game data from the L1 edition with data from editions of other languages to form a bilingual gaming environment. Also this game is designed to stimulate a real life situation. L2 students could be exposed to family situations, food, finding jobs, interactions with friends, and so forth. L2 students could learn vocabulary, switch from L2 to L1 and provide direct access to language data. The following image is presenting one of many different real life situations that the L2 could encounter in the game.

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The Sims, German edition (targeted to English speaking students)


Pros:
L2 teachers could use macros or scripts and rapidly extract the parts of the L1 game data for scaffolding learners and integrate them as available translations within the L2 version of the game. The L2 students would develop more interest in learning the language and maybe spend a great amount of time doing their task in L2. L2 learners could learn about culture and language while performing a series of tasks requiring communicative exchange with L1 students. L2 teachers could collaborate with classes in other countries and assign their students L2 speaking roommates.
Cons:
L2 may develop certain addiction, in other words students may spend 15 hours or more a week doing their homework (a teachers dream) or other type of task assigned by their L2 teachers. L2 teachers' challenge will be to fold the value added by games in with the structure provided by traditional learning environment.


E. Research on the efficacy of CALL in L2 teaching.

a. There is some controversy as to the efficacy of the language lab in L2 pedagogy. Some research has shown it to be beneficial (which resulted in a "mushrooming" of language labs throughout the USA) while others have demonstrated that it doesn't provide a sufficient advantage to the L2 student to be deemed efficient.
Findings from numerous studies suggest that the use of visual media supported vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension and helped increase achievement scores. The use of CMC has been shown to improve writing skills in a number of studies.
There has not been sufficient research to prove the efficacy of CALL in the development of the other L2 skills; speaking and listening. It seems to be more difficult to include speaking and listening skill acquisition into a CALL environment.

b. The technological program CALL creates concerns about the production of L2 learners and their linguistic comprehension. This type of technological assistance could actually question the L2 learners efficacy in a classroom.

c. Some experts are still searching as mentioned in the article by Carol Chapelle, what is necessary to identify the kind of language use by learners while engaged in a CALL activity.

d. The description of the language that learners hear/read and produce during CALL activities.

e. The research continues to evaluate the quality of language learned in an L2 task and development inside the classroom.

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Technology in FL Teacher Preparation Programs
Cunningham and Redmond (1997) support the integration of technology into the foreign language teacher preparation programs. They outline the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers, which involves six categories on what teachers should be able to do with technology, each with performance benchmarks. The article also describes briefly different methods and assignments Wake Forest University has used in their FL teaching methods classes:
• Micro lessons on vocabulary, grammar, reading, and writing that incorporated the standards of FL learning and technology
• How to use PowerPoint effectively
• Paired with teachers in local schools
• Field trip planning project
• Creating a newsletter that communicates the standard to parents
• Using HyperStudio to create interactive Big Books
Here is a link to the Technology in Foreign Language Education class website at USC and UF http://fllc.cas.sc.edu/TIFLE/III.
Personal experiences

Caroline Oates (USC): As wide and as ever-changing as the world of technology is, I feel that I will always be discovering new ways to integrate technology into my classroom. The foreign language teacher is not the ultimate source of information, but the master learner in the classroom. I use technology in some form or another almost every day, whether it is a simple overhead projector or having my students go to the computer lab to complete a webquest I designed for them. The World Wide Web is an amazing source of authentic materials that I continually take advantage of. I am grateful for the teachers who share their knowledge, materials, and experiences with everyone. Sometimes it is not easy for me to think of a communicative activity to go along with a particular grammar point or to know where to go to find culturally authentic materials. I am also a big fan of authoring software that allows myself and my students to create materials, such as storybooks. Programs like HyperStudio, Photo Story 3, and Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center allow students to create their own storybooks with graphics and backgrounds, not just writing a story with pen and paper and turning it in. I used this project in the "Teaching German to Young Children" class that I am currently teaching and it went over very well with my students. They were so creative in writing their stories and then illustrating them accordingly. The students then read their storybooks to the elementary school classes they had been visiting throughout the semester. There are many possibilities for technology in foreign language education. The technological world is constantly changing and being improved upon. We as teachers need to keep up with these changes in order to incorporate technology appropriately into our curriculum. I believe that technology will never replace teachers, but the teachers who have a grasp on technolgy will definitely have an advantage in the world of education.
http://www.windowsphotostory.com/ (a tutorial on how to use Photo Story 3) http://www.hyperstudio.com/

Richard Sell (USC): From my experience, one of the basic advantages of the use of technology, especially CALL, in L2 teaching is that it immediately creates a sort of excitement or positive attitude by the students. A reason for that may be that the incorporation of technology, compared to plain use of a textbook, is much closer to the sociocultural reality of (especially) young students. I could not imagine teaching without the endless source of authentic material that the internet provides. There are, for example, a lot of music videos by foreign bands on youtube. It also gives students the opportunity to listen to, read and communicate in the target language beside their actual work for the class.

Vinodh Venkatesh (UF): Technology plays a big part in my classroom. Rarely is there a day when I don't use the computer for a grammar activity, culture video, or simply an overhead. It is cheaper and quicker to make an overhead slide on a word processor than to actually print one out so my class plan is usually projected on the screen in the room. I rely on a lot of grammar drills that are free online and that come with the answers built in. I usually do at least one such activity in class and encourage my students to use the web as another tool in learning the language. I also find that videos and audio files are abundantly available over the internet and these come in as great auxiliary tools in the classroom. I must say that I haven't used tools such as CD ROMs or videos as much because I feel that part of the beauty of the Internet is that the students have ready access to all the things I do in class, which makes learning outside the classroom all the easier.

Gerard-Alain Michel (UF): Technology plays an active role in my daily class activities. The use of computer technologies can enhance students’ motivation since computers are very popular among them either because they are associated with fun and games or because they are considered to be fashionable. Student motivation is therefore increased, especially whenever a variety of activities are offered, which make them feel more independent. When preparing to write a composition, students are asked to use The World Wide Web to gather information on specific topics in the target language. Students are also encouraged to use the companion website associated with their text book. Network-based instruction can help them strengthen their linguistic skills by positively affecting their learning attitude and by helping them build self-instruction strategies and promote their self-confidence. As an instructor my role is to facilitate students' access to the web and make them practice communication on a global level. The use of DVD and MP3 technology to present movies or songs in the L2 languages is a very effective way to immerse students in the cultural aspect of language acquisition.


Bélgica Holt (UT): I have experienced the technological changes as a student and as a teacher, and I see the importance of including technology in the classroom and at home. The future generation and our generation are moving fast toward a world widely connected and depending upon a variety of technological items. Actual and future foreing language teachers should start and continue actualizing themselves with the different types of technological devices such as, power point which could serve as motivation for visual learners and any type of learner. Also many classrooms could access blackboard which allow L2 learners to watch videos provided by the teacher, also they could practice their listening comprehension and their reading comprehension. I have used it myself and I found it very convenient and useful for L2 learners and it also still allows the teacher to provide credible language and evaluate the L2 progress as well. As a L2 teacher I am learning as much as I can to bring a very interactive and communicative environment into the classroom. In order to keep the students motivated I will have to harness the use of computers, CD ROMS, Internet, power point, and even games that introduce foreign languages. To conclude, I would like to add that computers and other technological devices would never substitute L2
teachers, they just serve as props and helpful tools to improve the learning inside and outside the classroom.


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Ray Flanary (UT): In my own years of being a student and later in teaching, I have seen classrooms that had no technology (the basic blackboard and chalk) to smart classrooms that were totally geared to teaching in our modern age. In my recent years of teaching, I taught in classrooms that were called “smart classrooms.” The classrooms had a podium with notebook computer built into it, a ceiling mounted projection system, wireless Internet, built-in sound system, VCR, DVD player, CD player, and the most impressive of all was a smart-board. This looks like a movie screen but functions like a touch screen monitor. Basically, the notebook computer accesses the Internet and projects the image onto the screen. The instructor can then either use a stylus or their finger and touch the screen and it accesses links and other information on the Internet with a mere touch. One does not have to use the computer then to navigate. The smart-board can also be used with other programs and software for interactive lessons.
In terms of technology in the foreign language classroom, it is important to remember that technology is not there to replace effective teaching, but is merely a tool to enhance it. Also, one should bear in mind that technology is not just about computers. For the purposes of this wiki page, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on C.A.L.L. or Computer Assisted Language Learning. One should remember that computers are only one tool in the technological classroom. Some of the technologies available to the modern foreign language instructor are computers, presentation software, real-time communication (voice and video conferencing), interactive multimedia such as the smart board, VCR, DVD player, CD player, overhead projection, the World Wide Web, many types of foreign language software, and also many types of authentic language recordings and movies. The important emphasis on technology should be on a pedagogically sound integration of these technologies and materials in the foreign language curriculum. Back to Table of Contents

Resources:

http://edvista.com/claire/call.html (Ray)
https://www.calico.org (Ray)
http://www.eurocall-languages.org (Ray)
http://esl.about.com/od/esleflteachingteachnique (Ray)
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Lee-CALLbarriers.html (Belgica)
http://llt.msu.edu/vol7num3/doughty/default.html (Belgica)
http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/Publications/papers/ILTpedagogy.html (Belgica)
http://llt.msu.edu/vol9num1/purushotma/default.html (Belgica)
http://llt.msu.edu/vol3num2/hulstijn/index.html (Belgica)

References:

Brown, H. Douglas. 2001. Teaching by Principles: An interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. San Francisco State University: Longman.
Butler-Pascoe, M. E. 1997. Technology and Second Language Learners. American Language Review 1(3).
Rosch, E.M. 2002.Computer-Assisted Language Learning.University of Wisconsin-Madison. Available: http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lss/staff/erica/CALL/


Images:

The Sims image courtesy of MIT
The Skype image courtesy of skype.com