LINGUIST List 16.794

Wed Mar 16 2005

Review: Applied Ling/2nd Lang Acquisition: Fotos&Browne

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <naomilinguistlist.org>


What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Sheila Collberg at collberglinguistlist.org.

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        1.    Mathias Schulze, New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms


Message 1: New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms

Date: 15-Mar-2005
From: Mathias Schulze <mschulzeuwaterloo.ca>
Subject: New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms


EDITORS: Fotos, Sandra; Browne, Charles M.
TITLE: New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms
PUBLISHER: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
YEAR: 2004
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-2972.html


Mathias Schulze, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, University of
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

SUMMARY

"This practical handbook is designed to help language teachers, teacher
trainers, and students learn more about their options for using computer-
assisted language learning (CALL) and to develop an understanding of the
theory and research supporting these options." (back cover) The book
consists of a preface, five parts each of which is introduced separately,
two appendices (glossary of CALL terms, list of web sites), and two
indices (author, subject).The editors argue in the preface that in spite
of the book concentrating on the teaching and learning of English,
that "the principles and activities described are equally useful for other
languages" (ix). They also maintain that readers of the book do not
require any "prior knowledge of CALL, computers, or software" (x). The
book is accompanied by a website:
http://www.erlbaum.com/callforL2classrooms.htm

Part I is entitled "Introduction to CALL" and consists of three chapters.
Chapter 1 by Fotos and Browne provides a brief history of the field
Computer-Assisted Language Learning, summarizes aspects of the discussion
on the effectiveness of CALL, and introduces different CALL activities.
Warschauer offers his view on "Technological Change and the Future of
CALL" in chapter 2. After reviewing recent developments in information and
communication technologies (ICT), he discusses the impact these
technological changes will have or are already having on the teaching of
English: new contexts, new literacies, new identities, new pedagogies, and
agency. "Changes in ICTs can thus enable students to read, write, and
rewrite the world in their English classes as never before, but only if we
too enable our students to use the full power of these technologies" (24).
In the last chapter of the first part, Liddell and Garrett sketch the new
role of technology in the new language centers. "Within the past decade
several institutions have developed a new kind of unit, a center for
language study, established by administrators or influential language
faculty to strengthen the institution's language programs across the board
through a combination of new resources -- political, theoretical,
pedagogical, and technological" (33f.). These new language centers have
the following features in common: (computer) technology, relations with
stake holder departments, academic leadership, research into second
language acquisition and CALL (36-38).

Perspectives on classroom CALL take center stage in the second part of the
book. With its six chapters this is the most extensive part of this
volume. Hubbard starts this part with a practically oriented argument for
the training of learners as proficient (computer-assisted) language
learners, provides five principles which should guide this training and
other useful smaller points on the implementation of learner training.

Pennington's chapter five provides the reader with an introduction to word
processing and touches upon writing in some other technological contexts
(e.g. e-mail, local area networks (LANs), webpages). The use of LANs in an
English classroom is also discussed by Braine in the next chapter. Fotos,
in chapter seven, provides a comprehensive overview of the use of e-mail
in language learning and teaching. She concludes with a number of
guidelines which ought to be useful for a language instructor who is at
the planning stage of a similar project.

Some ideas of how to use the WWW in language teaching are provided by
Taylor and Gitsaki in chapter eight. This part is concluded by a project
report -- the creation of a course-specific CD-Rom -- by Iwabuchi and
Fotos.

Part II contains three chapters on "implementing CALL in institutional
settings". The first one (Browne and Gerrity) deals in minute detail with
practical hints for setting up and maintaining a language laboratory.
O'Connor and Gatton report on how they used multimedia software at their
university. In chapter twelve, Opp-Beckman and Kieffer offer theoretical
background as well as practical advise on the organization and
implementation of a successful, international collaborative language
learning projects. They conclude with an extensive list of possible
pitfalls and how to avoid them on a number of domains: preparation and
project planning, instructor role in the project, e-mail, discussion
boards, and chat.

Evaluation is the theme of the penultimate part which contains two
chapters. Chapter 13 (Reeder, Heift, Roche, Tabyanian, Schlickau, and
Gölz) reflects on general issues in the evaluation of CALL software. The
other chapter in this part (Susser and Robb) gives a practical overview
for the evaluation of websites for language learning purposes. Their
discussion of selected research aspects leads them to the compilation of
a "Checklist for Evaluating Preposition Study Sites" -- an example that
could easily be adapted to other study topics partially because it
contains a large number of criteria which are not content specific.

The concluding chapter by Chapelle and Hegelheimer stands on its own in
part V. It reflects on the role of and the challenges for the language
teacher of the 21st century. This concluding chapter of the book is a
useful summary of the main issues touched upon in this edited volume and
provides useful, practical hints and guidelines for language teachers,
teacher trainers and trainee teachers who are interested in using CALL.
They conclude by stating: "the resources offered by today's technologies
for learners and teachers provide a valuable opportunity to rethink and
perhaps reinvent what constitutes the knowledge base of L2 teachers at the
beginning of the 21st century" (p. 314).

CRITICAL EVALUATION

The individual chapters are of varying quality. The introductory chapter
by Fotos and Browne, for example, is a brief and useful introduction to
the field of CALL. Warschauer provides some revealing insights into the
changing face of English teaching and the role of technology. Hubbards
argument for learner training and his theoretically sound, and practically
applicable principles, hints and guidelines will be appreciated by many
language teachers. Chapelle and Hegelheimer do an excellent job of
bringing together the different traits of the important discussions in the
book, the current thinking in second language acquisition research and
practical aspects of using technology for language teaching.

On the other hand, the book would have benefited from the inclusion of
some more recent discussions. Some chapters (e.g. Braine; Taylor and
Gitsaki) do not consider more recent technological and pedagogic
developments to a sufficient extent. Across all chapters, there was not a
single reference to a text published after 2001. Did three years lapse
between the writing and publishing. The use of student data in some
studies is usually restricted to students' perceptions (e.g., Iwabuchi and
Fotos) do not provide enough evidence for the success or otherwise of
computerized teaching materials. A study of learning outcomes and/or
learning processes would have been preferable.

Overall, this book will prove helpful to language teachers who intend to
learn more about CALL. The accompanying website which replicates some
information from the book and provides a useful link list could be used to
provide updates for the chapters where this is needed.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Mathias Schulze's (PhD UMIST/Manchester) research focus is the application
of linguistic theory to computer-assisted language learning (CALL). He has
published on language technology in CALL and the acquisition of grammar
through CALL.
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