1 Guiding Principles
To be successful, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) technologies should improve the language learners’ classroom experience. Technology should not be utilized merely because it is available, but because it cultivates a superior learning experience.
Paul from Pear Tree Education does a good job weighing the potential drawbacks against the possible benefits of the use of technology in a 21st Century classroom in this 7-minute video:
Another valuable perspective on the use of modern technology in education from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
As Jim Scrivener describes the best type of language teacher, the enabler, in his book Learning Teaching:
“The third kind of teacher is confident enough to share control with the learners, or perhaps to hand it over to them entirely. Decisions made in her classroom may often be shared or negotiated. In many cases, she takes her lead from the students, seeing herself as someone whose job it is to create the conditions that enable the students to learn for themselves. Sometimes this will involve her in less traditional ‘teaching’; she may become a ‘guide’ or a ‘counselor’ or a ‘resource of information when needed’. Sometimes, when the class is working well under its own steam, when a lot of autonomous learning is going on, she may be hardly visible. This teacher knows about the subject matter and about methodology, but also has an awareness of how individuals and groups are thinking and feeling within her class. She actively responds to this in her planning and methods and in building effective working relationships and a good classroom atmosphere. Her own personality and attitude are an active encouragement to this learning.”
Efficacious, cogent, and prudent use of technology in the language learning classroom will without a doubt produce learners who take an active role in their own learning experience. Importantly, Scrivener reminds us that “‘Teaching’ does not equal ‘learning’. … Learning – of anything, anywhere – demands energy and attention from the learner.” The use of CALL certainly makes more effective use of the learners’ energy and attention than a classroom with only the traditional early 20th Century technology available.
lish Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) course in the summer of 2016, I used Google Slides to teach vocabulary. The technology is free and is available to anyone with a Google account (also free). Sign up for a Google account by signing up for a gmail account at gmail.com. Once signed in to your Google account, navigate to Google Slides. You can also use the very convenient and just as intuitive, free to download, Google Slides mobile application. I planned a vocabulary lesson on my commute from Kailua to the UH-Manoa campus where the CELTA course took place. I used the mobile application on my iPad and was able to produce the CALL component of my lesson in less than the one-hour commute time. View an example of a vocabulary lesson I created using Google Slides here: My first attempt at using Google Slides to teach vocabulary. In my first attempt at using Google Slides to teach vocabulary, you can see that I wrote the target vocabulary word directly on the slide. However, this is not necessary. A vocabulary lesson can be effective by showing images and eliciting the target vocabulary from the students. As an example, view this Google Slides presentation. Obviously, the teacher must adapt to the technology that the school makes available in the classroom. In the case of the classrooms on the UH-Manoa campus, we had HD televisions available to us. I used a specialized adapter to hook up my iPad to the HDTV port on the television, and in this way presented the images to the class. I can find no weaknesses when evaluating the efficacy of this technology for teaching vocabulary.