Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

Designing Task-Based Call to Promote Interaction: En Busca De Esmeraldas

Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

Designing Task-Based Call to Promote Interaction: En Busca De Esmeraldas

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Developing effective language teaching materials based on second language acquisition principles is a priority which needs to be addressed in all language teaching areas. The field of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is no exception. "En Busca de Esmeraldas" is a CALL activity delivered via the Internet and based on principles of language teaching (Doughty & Long, 2002; Long, in press) and on Chapelle's (1998) proposals for developing multimedia, grounded in SLA research.

The first part of this article presents the steps necessary for designing an effective language learning tool to foster communication and negotiation, taking into consideration the importance of supporting integral education, using tasks, providing elaborated input and feedback, and promoting collaborative learning. The second part of the article reports on a study conducted using such a tool to determine whether communication and negotiation occurred, and whether the negotiation was similar to that reported in previous studies that claim such negotiation facilitates the comprehension process.

INTRODUCTION

All areas of education are undergoing changes in the way teaching and learning are perceived. Teacher-centered, class-lecture based, and structural-syllabus instruction are giving way to a more student-centered, hands-on, practical, and flexible approach (Shank & Cleary, 1994). The field of second language teaching is no exception in this paradigm shift. New theories and applications of language teaching are exploring the benefits of new methods and pedagogical approaches, among them task-based language teaching (Crookes & Gass, 1993; Long, in press) and focus on form (Doughty & Williams, 1998; Long, 1991a, 1998; Long & Robinson, 1998).

Parallel to these changes in education is a technological revolution realized in the increasing use of computers for learning, the implementation of the Internet, and the rise of network-based teaching. Until now, many CALL activities were created with the sole rationale that computers are useful and motivating for students, although such activities lacked a solid research base. Recently, however, the field of CALL has begun to undergo self-evaluation, and researchers are now claiming that in order for the field to progress, it is necessary to look to SLA principles that make language teaching effective (Chapelle, 1998; Doughty, 1987; Levy, 1999).

The Rationale for Network-Based Activities

Design, preparation, and programming of a computer-based activity are highly time-consuming, and typically entail more difficulties in development than any paper-and-pencil classroom activity. Therefore, in order to justify the investment in a CALL activity, there must be a rationale for why it is implemented via the computer instead of another, less resource-demanding form. Simulations are one type of computer-based activity that allows students to be immersed and actively involved in an environment that is not otherwise accessible (Crookall & Oxford, 1990; Higgins & Morgenstern, 1990; Scarcella & Crookall, 1990). The computer, thus, becomes a tool that cannot be easily substituted by any other language teaching procedure and, therefore, the work invested in the creation of the materials is justified.

Furthermore, CALL activities may be based in a network, such as the Internet, presenting several advantages: rapid global access at any time from any computer with Internet access; integration of graphics, audio, and text; and ease and low cost of publication (Kern & Warschauer, 2000). In sum, network-based simulations offer access to an otherwise unattainable environment that translates into language input and tasks for second language (L2) students.

L2 Interaction

Several theories postulate a relationship between language acquisition and output during the interaction process (Pica, Holliday, Lewis, & Morgenthaler, 1989; Swain & Lapkin, 1995), between language acquisition and input (Long, 1996), and between language acquisition and negotiation of meaning (Ellis, 1999; Ellis & He, 1999; Gass, 1997; Gass & Varonis, 1989, 1994; Loschky, 1994; Lyster, 1998a, 1998b; Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Pica, 1994; Pica, Lincoln-Porter, Paninos, & Linnell, 1996). …

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