Pardon me for the expression; many regard CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) as a toy for computer geeks. The geeks are specialists, many language teachers believe, who can help language teachers in technical troubles, but they’re more interested in technology than humans. According to this conception, CALL guys are like a different species from language teachers.
I disagree with this (mis)conception. Computers are indispensable tools for (post-) modern human beings. I, for example, almost always write on computer with the help of installed dictionaries, Google search and Wikipedia exploration. Expressing my thoughts either in English or Japanese is now part of my life, for I have a large number of friends whose friendship with me was (or will be) initiated by my writing but enhanced (or even made possible at all) by the internet. Without computers, I’ll lose much of meaningfulness in my life; I’ll cease to be who I am now. My language use and learning are assisted by computers, and I’m not a computer expert.
Prof. Klaus Schwienhorst (Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, see below) seems to me a socio-cultural CALL scholar. He contends that the computer has built-in affordances that influence our thinking and thus our pedagogy as well: it is a two way relationship between technology and pedagogy. He even foresees Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL). Relating CALL to the issue of learner autonomy, he says “learner autonomy may be most effective when combining reflection [on learning], interaction [in the target language] and experimentation [on new language use.] This is where CALL can play a major role.” (square brackets added.)
Computer networks are what make (post-) modern human beings. Learning to use computers and other related gadgets for communication should be integrated in the framework of language learning. With satellite television, portable electronic dictionaries, mobile phones (with a camera, a browser, a TV and so on), iPods, in addition to the internet, we may have already entered the age of Ubiquitously Assisted Language Learning (U-ALL).
Prof. Klaus Schwienhorst (2007)
“Coming to terms: Learner autonomy, the learner, and (computer-assisted) language learning environments.” (A keynote speech in Independent Learning Association Third International Conference, Chiba, Japan, 7 October 2007)
This article is revised on October 11, 2007, according to Prof. Schwienhorst’s kind reply to my e-mail that asked for an ex post facto approval of uploading of this article. The revised part is “He contends that the computer has built-in affordances that influence our thinking and thus our pedagogy as well: it is a two way relationship between technology and pedagogy.” I regret and apologize for my misleading summary of his presentation.