Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization

By Michael Levy | Go to book overview

Designing Interaction published in 1991, which looked closely and profoundly at the relationship between psychological theory (basic science) and the practice of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) design. To me, there are many parallels between the situation described in HCL, and the one prevailing in CALL. Like HCI, CALL authors seek to apply theory in the actual construction of programs, and much remains to be understood about this process. Theory and application in CALL provided the conference theme at the second Canadian CALL Conference in 1993, highlighting the interest in this issue. The union between theory and application is not as strong as it might be in CALL, and for this and other reasons I believe it is worth exploring further.

In addressing these three concerns, descriptive work has, I believe, a crucial role to play at this point in the evolution of CALL. Sufficient work in CALL has now been accomplished to warrant a description, and an assessment of the work completed so far. A description of CALL materials and projects can provide a sense of the whole, a feeling for the scope of CALL, and it can help identify key issues and themes. Some issues or topics may only be of a temporary concern, while others may continue to assert their influence over an extended period of time.

A sense of the whole is imperative because in my view CALL practitioners and researchers have not really assimilated the work that has been done, nor appreciated its relevance for current work, a point also made by Last ( 1989: 14). Researchers have increasingly narrow specializations, and it is easy to lose sight of the broader picture. Moreover, CALL is interdisciplinary, and as such we need to be aware of developments in related disciplines. Other fields such as instructional design, artificial intelligence, and psychology will undoubtedly also have contributions to make. This is particularly important, I feel, because CALL abounds with one-off projects that are often not described in relation to other similar CALL projects, nor set in the broader context. A description can provide an appreciation of what has been achieved so far, and provide a sensible platform for a discussion of possible directions in the future.

Attempting to situate CALL in relation to such fields and disciplines involves a certain degree of risk. Many boundaries are crossed that in many cases segregate knowledge, and the people and publications that represent it. As a result there is a danger of being accused of superficial treatment of the subjects that are held to

-xii-

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Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • 1. Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • 2. Call in Context I: A Historical Perspective 13
  • Notes 44
  • 3. Call in Context Ii: An Interdisciplinary Perspective 47
  • Notes 74
  • 4. Conceptualization I: the Call Literature 76
  • Notes 116
  • 5. Conceptualization Ii: the Call Survey 118
  • Notes 150
  • 6. Emerging Themes and Patterns of Development 151
  • 7. a Tutor-Tool Framework 178
  • Notes 214
  • 8. on the Nature of Call 215
  • Notes 232
  • Appendix A: The CALL Survey 233
  • Appendix B: The design of the CALL Survey 246
  • Appendix C: Miscellaneous charts 248
  • Appendix D: Resources on the Internet 250
  • References 257
  • Author index 289
  • Subject Index 293
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