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Computer Assisted Language Learning


Anna Chaidemenakou (MA) English Teacher 2nd Model Experimental General Lyceum of Athens September 2013



Computer Assisted Language Learning CALL for All!



Computer Assisted Language Learning CALL for All!


Anna Chaidemenakou (MA) ESOL teacher at Model Experimental General Lyceum of Athens

Athens 2013


ISBN 978-960-93-5493-6 © Anna Chaidemenakou 2013 Άννα Χαϊδεμενάκου 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without written permission from the author. Απαγορεύεται η αναπαραγωγή, αντιγραφή, αποστολή, αναδημοσίευση του παρόντος έργου με οποιονδήποτε τρόπο χωρίς προηγούμενη γραπτή άδεια της εκδότριας.

First published 2013 by Anna Chaidemenakou, Athens, Greece. Πρώτη έκδοση 2013 από την Άννα Χαϊδεμενάκου, Αθήνα, Ελλάδα.


To Manos and Elias.





Computer Assisted Language Learning: Introduction ……… 1

Pedagogical Goals and Rationale for Using CALL ……………… 2

Selecting Tools ………………………………………………………………………… 4

Developing Materials ………………………………………………………………

Concluding Remarks ………………………………………………………………… 8

Sample Lesson: Humanities: The Story of Fairy Tales …… 9

Description of the Sample Lesson ………………………………………… 11

APPENDIX: Pre-Viewing Stage of the Sample Lesson ………18

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………… 19




Acknowledgements I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, my School Advisor, for the opportunities she has offered me – this booklet is only one of those – as well as for her encouragement and her support which keep coming in many forms and on many different occasions. I would also like to thank my colleague Ms. Danae Digrintaki (Med), who took the time to review my booklet and offer useful comments. Last but not least, a special thanks to my colleague Dr. Fotini-Vassiliki Kuloheri, who offered generous advice concerning the details of my booklet’s edition.



Computer Assisted Language Learning: Introduction Among the numerous definitions about Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), this teacher has always preferred Beatty’s (2003:7), according to which, CALL is any process in which learners use computers to improve their language skills, because it accommodates CALL’s continuously changing nature and engulfs the breadth of what may go on in it, which is actually an amazing lot. Having gone through numerous stages of development, nowadays in the era of the Internet, multimedia networked computers, communications, interaction and teaching of integrated skills, the computer can have the roles of tutor, stimulus and/or tool for interaction. Its roles also include spelling and grammar checking, word processing, desktop publishing, concordancing, multimedia networking, the Internet, real-time communication and so on. All the aforementioned make it possible for technology to become fully integrated in ELT, because computers enable the creation of an authentic, stimulating environment, in which all skills can be combined, language can be used in meaningful ways, while fluency and accuracy can be stressed equally. Learners strive for autonomy and self-reliance and the teacher is assigned an additional role of the researcher of the Internet, who looks for materials appropriate for the aims and objectives of the lesson and of appropriate content for the learners. All the above point to the idea of normalization, that is, the point where technology and computers become integrated into the syllabus, part of each and every lesson, invisible and taken for granted, like books and pens in the classroom. The reasons why we should make that effort, we shall now proceed to examine below. 1

Pedagogical Goals and Rationale for Using CALL CALL can contribute significantly to EFL practices if appropriately used. Technology cannot change the learning goals set, but it can function as a tool, to help teach the same skills more effectively, and that is when it should be used. The teacher should remember that the computer is not a method; it is just a machine so it is the teacher’s responsibility to prepare tasks, which offer learners, comprehensible input and have a meaningful, linguistic purpose. First of all, computers create motivation. Learners associate them with games, fun and fashion, and the Internet with colors, sound, speed, moving pictures, animation, immediacy, interactivity and opportunities for weaker students to excel, all of which make learners well-disposed towards using them. Moreover, computers help learners acquire and practice skills necessary in their future academic and/or professional lives, consequently they inspire learners to work not only to become proficient in English, but also to perfect English in order to function well on computers. Let us not forget that increased motivation increases language use, which in turn improves proficiency. Furthermore, in the era of multimedia networked computers, web pages provide never-ending, authentic, learner-centered material (reading, visual and/or listening input, information, reference sites, live broadcasts, etc.), which extends beyond the limits of the classroom, the textbook and learners’ immediate communities and is constantly renewed and updated, developing their social and cultural awareness. The web offers learners immediate access to educational/cultural/informative material, consequently, they can retrieve/download/edit/share


information, indulge in exploratory learning by utilizing huge amounts of data, study the language in a cultural context and address a real audience. Moreover, audio and video files played on the computer combine visual and aural stimuli, and allow learners to watch body-language and facial expressions, while they listen for accent, stress, intonation, and natural features of speech. Such files provide real language, accompanied by cultural information, in a full, communicative context, and they can be controlled (paused, stopped, repeated) depending on the learners’ needs. They offer variety and entertainment which lower learners’ affective filter, and create a positive learning environment, that further enhances learners’ intrinsic motivation. In addition, computers individualize learners inside, or outside the classroom by providing various ways/modes of practice with instant feedback, which is another huge advantage over paper that gradually allows learners to grow less dependent on the teacher. On the one hand, if learners work inside the classroom in pairs/groups, computer-based work further enhances flexibility, because it allows weaker learners to scaffold. On the other hand, they might work on their own, in self-access mode, which is an increasingly popular notion in learner-centered language teaching/learning. Self-access encourages learners to define and pursue their needs, by organizing and using material in a self-instructed way, with the ultimate aim of facilitating learning. This mode is especially useful for learners who want to do some work on their own to supplement schoolwork, cannot attend lessons regularly, engage in distance-learning, want to cater for individualized needs (EAP, ESP, etc.), and thus they enjoy more flexibility, choice, self-reliance and autonomy and they become responsible for their learning because they proceed at their own pace, according to their learning style. 3

Last but not least, interaction with computers integrates and practices all skills; for example, the moment learners become engaged with the computer screen, they practice reading in English; the Internet provides a real audience for their e-mails, so they practice their writing; live broadcasts and listening input help them practice listening skills and in the area of real-time communication, they practice speaking via microphones. Moreover, multimedia materials cater for all learning styles. Therefore, it is obvious that computers help learners develop all skills in an integrated and productive way.

Selecting Tools English language teachers often need to develop their own materials based on needs analysis. To do that, they need to create some materials, borrow others, piece them together and/or adapt them specially, until they reach the most appropriate result. The World Wide Web (WWW) service of the Internet and other generic applications (i.e. the kind of software already loaded in computers when people buy them, e.g. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc.), as well as a number of Authoring Suites can prove very useful allies. The WWW is a multimedia resource and communications tool consisting of a system of extensively interlinked hypertext documents, text and multimedia files and other network services accessed via browsers, which has brought about a new era, not only in education, but in all aspects of modern life. It can be used in countless ways, but information retrieval, enhancement of resources and online writing are maybe the most interesting areas for ELT.


Authorable software allows teachers to insert data, which learners can access online, as opposed to dedicated software, which allows no interventions. It offers the flexibility to choose/adapt input, according to whatever material is currently in focus in the classroom and/or learners’ needs. One of the most widely used – and warmly recommended – authoring suites is Hot Potatoes, whose 5 programs allow for the creation of interactive short answer (JQuiz), jumbled words/sentences (JMix), crossword (JCross), matching (JMatch) and gap-filling (JCloze) tasks. It also includes The Masher program, which builds links among the tasks created and presents them to learners in an Index. Hot Potatoes is available for free, for anyone who claims to be an educator and needs it for non-commercial purposes, and it can be downloaded from Web site For the purposes of the lesson presented later on in this booklet, the author used JMatch, JCloze and JQuiz programs and the Masher. In JMatch the teacher prepares sentences beforehand and the program automatically and randomly jumbles them. The jumbled sentences appear in 2 columns and learners indicate their choice on the menu, which appears when they click on the appropriate indicator. In JCloze the teacher provides the text, chooses which parts will be deleted to provide the gaps and the program prepares the task. Learners type their answers in the blank spaces on their screens. In JQuiz the teacher prepares the questions and learners indicate/type the correct choice/answer. In all programs the teacher also provides the answers (one or more alternatives), hints and help for the programs to offer if learners need them, however, use of “Help” and/or “Hint” features detracts points from the final score. Upon completion of the tasks, learners click on the 5

“Check” button to receive feedback, see their scores and evaluate themselves. Wrong answers are deleted by the program and learners are invited to keep trying until they get it right. JMatch and JCloze help create text manipulation tasks; they degrade a text in various ways/degrees and learners have to restore it. JQuiz helps create question-based tasks; these can be multiple-choice, short answer, hybrid (i.e. a combination of multiple-choice and short answer), and multiple-matching tasks. This teacher used the “Timer” option in all the tasks presented in this booklet; although this made the tasks more demanding, it helped learners keep track of time and get used to organizing their work in the time available. Learners have to activate both implicit and explicit linguistic knowledge and develop a variety of problem-solving strategies to tackle the aforementioned tasks. Nevertheless, the fact that they become engrossed until they complete them shows they find the tasks interesting, challenging and motivating. By applying their knowledge (general, vocabulary, grammar etc.), hypothesizing and making intelligent guesses, they become more self-reliant and autonomous. Moreover, they cooperate in pairs/groups against the computer, which lowers their affective filter, especially the less confident ones’ and paves the way for scaffolding.

Developing Materials When we develop materials, we need to choose appropriately and do interesting things with what we choose. We should create stimulating and motivating materials that match the course’s objectives and keep in mind


the factors about methods, task design and sequencing, as well as scheduling difficulties. The tasks should be graded, coherently sequenced and achievable. In all the tasks presented below, this teacher retained the order of information and included regularly repeated words and obvious collocates, which further aided learners. All tasks had stated purposes and were authentic, because learners need lecture-listening and notetaking skills for their immediate future, thus tasks had a positive impact. Furthermore, all tasks included “Help” and “Hint” features as it is very important for learners to have an option that aids their comprehension and its use depends on them, thus it enhances their autonomy. Moreover, the author attempted for the lesson to revise/recycle/consolidate the skills taught in the previous lessons. In addition, the author strived for pre-viewing activities to increase learners’ intrinsic motivation and encourage them – in this case to make a habit of pre-lecture preparation, which helps focus their listening skills, enhances comprehension and message retention and enables them to take more meaningful and effective notes, post-viewing tasks to consolidate/promote the skills acquired, and follow-up discussions to encourage reflection upon the language and skills used in the lesson and relate it to the goals achieved. The learners worked in pairs, sharing one computer per pair, to improve their concentration and attention. The teacher remained planner of the lesson, CALL implementer, user of authoring systems, motivator and facilitator, and did not intervene unless the learners asked for support. The sample lesson was built around a lecture from the field of Humanities, dealing with the theme of Fairy Tales. Its objectives were 7

a) to revise and practice the lecture-listening skills learners acquired in previous lessons (i.e., to recognize general academic language, to understand the topic and general plan of a lecture, to recognize lecture openings and endings, to comprehend lecture structure, to recognize language signaling transitions, definitions, examples, explanations, clarification of points, when information is important), and b) to further practice the Cornell Note-taking System1, taught in the previous lesson.

Concluding Remarks The positive results of this teacher’s implementation of CALL in her lessons point to the assertion that technology can assist the development and practice of learners’ language skills necessary for their lives in academic and/or professional real-world environments. CALL proves a motivating way to enrich the educational program and create learning opportunities. It is an effective and versatile instructional tool, and teachers, who are acquainted with its use and willing to take the time to adapt it to their learners’ needs, can teach skills better than they did in the traditional way. Actually, that is how it should be used, because CALL is not an end in itself, or a panacea to substitute the teacher and traditional ways of teaching/learning, or to change the learning goals set. It is effective users that devise right ways and as Warschauer said, it would be a shame, “now that we have the

hardware and the software” not to utilize “the humanware” (2002:472). 1

For information about the Cornell Note-taking System, as well as other note-taking systems, please visit;;


Sample Lesson: Humanities: The Story of Fairy Tales Topic:

Humanities: The Story of Fairy Tales. Adapted from Sarosy & Sherak, 2007.


To review and practice lecture-listening skills: 

To recognize general academic vocabulary.

To understand the topic and general plan of a lecture.

To recognize lecture openings and endings.

To comprehend lecture structure.

To recognize lecture language signaling  transitions.  definitions and examples.  explanations and clarification of points.  when information is important.

To review and practice note-taking skills using the Cornell Note-taking System. To practice using symbols and abbreviations when taking notes. To involve learners in working with computers. To involve learners in interaction with their peers and with computers. To boost learners’ confidence when listening to lectures and taking notes. To show target situations relevant to learners’ needs. To enhance flexibility and autonomy. 9


24 advanced learners aged 17-20, in the third year of


Senior High School. They attended two 45-minute lessons per week. It was the learners’ own wish to work on their academic skills, especially lecture-listening and note-taking and that was done throughout the school year at least once a week.


One teaching hour (45-50 minutes).


The school’s fully equipped computer laboratory and a




Description of the Sample Lesson Stages



To activate

The teacher (T) invites Ls (in pairs) to open the


learners (Ls)

“Humanities” folder, a PowerPoint file already placed on



their desktops, and look at the pictures of well-known


fairy tales (App., p. 20). Through information transfer


Ls’ schemata are activated and they predict that the

general academic

lecture will be about ‘fairy tales’. The specific learners


are quite used to general academic vocabulary, and they

To encourage Ls

have learnt and recycled a number of lecture-listening

to make

skills, so no vocabulary-introduction task is necessary.


Through discussion relevant vocabulary is

To create

elicited/revised and Ls proceed to the While-viewing


stage, looking forward to verifying their predictions.

10 min.

To offer motivation. To involve Ls in working with computers. To lower less confident Ls’ affective filter by giving them the chance to work with a partner and scaffold. 11

To practice

Ls (in pairs) watch the video of the lecture straight



through and they take notes, using the Cornell system



(taught in the previous lesson). Ls work in pairs and they

To take notes

know they need their notes for the following tasks, so

using the Cornell

there is a purpose for viewing. The T has not provided


them with any outline or any other kind of help, because


this is their 9th CALL lesson on academic skills and they

To show target

have grown more accustomed to dealing with both


lecture-listening and note-taking. They engage both top-

relevant to Ls’

down and bottom-up processing skills to comprehend the


topic, main points, supporting details, key

To involve Ls in

phrases/expressions and words signaling discourse

working with

relevance of the lecture.

8 min.

computers. To evaluate and critically interpret information. To involve Ls in interaction with their peers and computers. To lower Ls’ affective filter and give them a chance to scaffold.


To promote

Ls are asked to review their notes, open their



“Humanities” Masher Index and start “The Story of



Fairy Tales”. They start with a JCloze task, which

through Text

contains a paragraph with a summary of the lecture, in


the T’s words (i.e. a text created from a pre-existing

(TM) tasks.

text). Being familiar with Hot Potatoes programs, Ls

To enable Ls to

know how to handle the JCloze task. They need to use

interact with

their notes, their memory and contextual information to

the computer

complete it, in simulation of real life contexts. At this

and their peers.

level, the transcript is inserted by the teacher as a file

To practice

in the lesson’s folder and learners use it only as a last

skimming and

resort during the Post-viewing stage.

scanning skills.

Further discussion on the task and the topic, ensures

To make

that Ls have started to become quite confident about


their academic skills by that point.

20 min.

To take notes using the Cornell system. To practice using symbols and abbreviations when taking notes. To transfer information from the notes


to the TM tasks. To analyze notetaking skills. To encourage forming and testing hypotheses and automatize. To evaluate and critically interpret information. To develop context sensitivity and utilize coherence/ cohesion features.

A revision, thus, a more difficult JQuiz task

To practice text

follows; it uses the lecturer’s words and invites Ls to


recognize the purpose of these words (e.g. “to indicate a


transition”, “to indicate the ending of the lecture”, etc.).

To increase

Its aim is to revise and consolidate what the Ls have

motivation and

learnt in the previous lessons, and to provide an

allow less

opportunity for clarification of doubts if necessary. The

confident Ls to

task is in multiple-choice format and learners indicate


their choice by clicking on the appropriate button.


Ls in pairs compete to finish first with the highest score. Upon completion of the task, discussion follows, which serves to clarify possible doubts.

The last task is another revision JQuiz task, in this case in short-answer-format. It consists of a number of sentences, from the notes of previous lessons, but in this case, the teacher has re-written them using some of the symbols and abbreviations, which learners 15

have already been taught. Ls have not seen those sentences in that format before, though. They have to decipher the notes and type the full sentences in the appropriate spaces, thus it is more difficult than the previous task, because writing is more complex linguistically than clicking on a button. Learners can ask for a “Hint”, or the whole “Answer”, which as usual, detracts points. When they finish the task, check their scores and pronounce the winning pair, discussion follows on the use of symbols and abbreviations and how choosing and using the ones each learner prefers, makes note-taking faster and easier.


To analyze

Ls open the transcript of the lecture (in the



“Humanities� folder), and reflect on its features



(academic language, structure, specific expressions used,

To analyze note-

etc.) and which are common in all disciplines.


Furthermore, they compare their notes and talk about


their favorite note-taking system (informal outline,

To analyze CALL

visual, chart, Cornell, etc.). Two recurring themes in


Follow-up discussions are whether learners feel more

To generate and

confident as CALL lessons go by, where academic skills

encourage flow

are concerned, and how working with computers affects

of spontaneous

their learning.

5 min.

language in the classroom.

NOTE: Please follow the link to find more material about the lesson described above (links to the Hot Potatoes interactive tasks, transcript of the lecture and more pictures). 20Tales%20-%20Additional%20material.docx 17

Appendix: Pre-Viewing Stage of the Sample Lesson


‌ andtheylivedhappilyeverafter!


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Hawaii Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. Online. Available from website: 46/NW01.pdf?sequence=1 Warschauer M. (2002). ‘Developmental perspective on technology in language education’. In TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 453475. Warschauer M. & Healey D. (1998). ‘Computers and language learning: An overview’. In Language Teaching, Vol. 31, pp. 57-71. Warschauer M. & Whittaker P. F. (1997). ‘The Internet for English teaching: Guidelines for teachers’. In TESL Reporter, Vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 27-33. Warschauer M. & Meskill C. (2000). ‘Technology and second language learning’. In J. Rosenthal (Ed.), Handbook of Undergraduate Second Language Education (pp. 303-318). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.


“CALL for all!” is an e-book aspiring to acquaint all teachers of ESOL with the magical world of Computer Assisted Language Learning. The theoretical background is supported by practical examples as well as a sample lesson in an attempt to show that CALL is an effective, versatile, ever-evolving instructional tool, which, adapted to learners’ needs, can enable the creation of an authentic, stimulating environment, in which all skills can be combined, language can be used in meaningful ways, while fluency and accuracy can be stressed equally.

ISBN 978-960-93-5493-6


Call booklet