LINGUIST List 28.3790

Thu Sep 14 2017

Review: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics: Hamel, Caws (2016)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <>

Date: 24-May-2017
From: Pejman Habibie <">,>
Subject: Language-Learner Computer Interactions
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Catherine Caws
EDITOR: Marie-Josée Hamel
TITLE: Language-Learner Computer Interactions
SUBTITLE: Theory, methodology and CALL applications
SERIES TITLE: Language Studies, Science and Engineering 2
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2016

REVIEWER: Pejman Habibie, University of Western Ontario

REVIEWS EDITOR: Helen Aristar-Dry


“Language-learner Computer Interactions: Theory, methodology and CALL applications” is an edited volume which brings together scholarship from experts in different areas of CALL. The volume consists of an introductory chapter by the editors, nine chapters that are grouped into two thematic sections: “Frameworks guiding the research” and “Data and elicitation technologies and techniques” and an afterword. With interdisciplinarity as the underlying concept and the focal point, the book is an attempt to draw attention to common areas of interest and research methodologies between applied linguists and STEM professionals.

In Chapter One, the editors give an introduction to the field of learner-computer interaction (LCI) and argue the exigencies for further scholarship regarding online language learning processes. They highlight that the book aims to (a) explain how cutting-edge theories and research methodologies grounded in science and engineering can inform dynamic and multimodal research into language learners’ interactions in technology-mediated task-based language learning, and (b) elaborate on the objectives of those theories, methodologies, and their context of application. At the end of the chapter, they identify the target audience of the volume, present an overview of the main features of the constituent sections and chapters, and explain how it can be used.

Part One, “Frameworks guiding the research”, consists of four chapters. In Chapter Two, “CALL ergonomics revisited,” the editors present an overview of the key concepts of the field of ergonomics from educational and web design perspectives. They look at principal theories underlying ergonomics and examine the evidences and motives that play a role in the development of the field of CALL ergonomics. Finally, they talk about some engineering methods commonly used in human-computer interaction (HCI), software design, and human-centred design and discuss how these methods can provide researchers and practitioners with the opportunity to apply the principles of CALL ergonomics in practice.

In Chapter Three, “The theory of affordances,” Francoise Blin draws on Gibson’s theory of affordance in order to explain and clarify the concept of affordances. Focusing on LCIs, the author gives a summary of key HCI interpretations and analyzes selected cognitivist and post-cognitivist perspectives of affordances within HCI and interaction design domains. Then she investigates educational and linguistic affordances and their status within CALL research agenda.

In Chapter Four, “CALL theory: Complex adaptive systems,” Mathias Schulze and Kyle Scholz
argue that research into complex adaptive system (CAS) can offer an integrative and contextualized view on LCIs and language learning process. The authors outline the principal tenets of a CAS research paradigm wherein language use, second language development, and LCI can be examined. They sketch the characteristics of CAS, provide an overview of earlier CAS research in CALL, and put forward mixed-method methodologies that afford researchers to capture the complexity of the non-linear processes of LCI from a CAS perspective.

In Chapter Five, “CALL design and research: Taking a micro and macro view,” Mike Levy and Catherine Caws examine two problematic areas of CALL called the macro and micro views. These areas concern an understanding of broader external and internal contextual factors influencing CALL activity and the nature of technology-mediated interactions. Highlighting the principal characteristics of macro and micro views, the authors explain how these perspectives on CALL research and practice can enrich our approach to framing, articulating, and designing technology-mediated learning contexts.

Part Two “Data and elicitation technologies and techniques”, consists of five chapters. In Chapter Six, “Learner personas and the effects of instructional scaffolding on working behaviour and linguistic performance,” Trude Heift investigates data-driven learner personas and instructional scaffolding in the form of preemptive lexical and grammatical feedback in a web-based intelligent CALL environment. The participants were ninety three beginner learners of L2 German. They did a sentence completion task as a component of their course assignment during a semester. They were categorized into three learners persona groups: No Help, Sporadic Help, and Frequent Help. The next stage of the study examines the effects of access to different amounts of help on the learner’s working knowledge and linguistic performance. The results indicate significant improvement in working behaviour and linguistic performance of the Frequent Help group compared to the other groups.

In Chapter Seven, “Video screen capture to document and scaffold the L2 writing process,” Marie-Josee Hamel and Jeremie Seror explore the potential of video screen capture (VSC) technology for second language writing pedagogy and investigating LCIs in CALL research. Drawing on three sample studies, they talk about the affordances of this accessible and flexible technology in the design of CALL research and pedagogy for CALL researchers and language instructors. The first study examines L2 learners’ dictionary search processes in designing an online dictionary prototype. The second one looks at the composition processes and L2 writers’ strategies. The third one investigates the integration of VSC technology in L2 writing class.

In Chapter Eight, “Using eye-tracking technology to explore online learner interactions,” Ursula Stickler, Bryan Smith, and Lijing Shi talk about the application of eye-tracking technology in investigating LCI and examining the learner’s cognitive processes. Following an overview of the history and different areas within eye-tracking research, the authors report their own two recent cases of eye-tracking studies in synchronous computer-mediated communication. Then they discuss the benefits, challenges, and methodological options of quantitative and mixed methods studies for investigating language learning.

In Chapter Nine, “Analyzing multimodal resources in pedagogical online exchanges,” Cathy Cohen and Nicolas Guichon look at the contribution of meaning-making multimodal resources to web conferencing-based pedagogical synchronous interactions. First, the chapter examines different methodological approaches to the analysis of multimodal semiotic resources in online pedagogical interactions. The authors provide an outline of the implications of research into synchronous web-mediated online interactions for CALL and discuss the significance of stipulating a unit of analysis in order to inform future analyses. Drawing on three of their studies, they explore different methods for investigating multimodal online exchanges. In order to sketch various ethical, epistemological, and methodological considerations involved in the qualitative studies of multimodal corpora, the second part of the chapter deals with a case study that indicates different stages in researching online pedagogical exchanges.

In Chapter Ten, “A scientific methodology for researching CALL interaction data,” Thierry Chanier and Ciara Wigham draw on a new scientific object, LEarning and TEaching Corpora to provide an overview of a staged methodology for structuring HCI data. First, the authors explain the concept of corpora and highlight how corpora differ from raw language data. Second, they demonstrate a methodology that is used to collect, transform, and organize data from online learning situations which are sharable through open-access repositories. Third, they explain the ways in which to make the transcription of interactions more systematic and elaborate on the expected advantages of analysis tools.

In afterword , “Engineering conditions of possibility in technology-enhanced language learning,” Steven Thorne provides a brief analysis of the whole book presenting implications and benefits of constituent chapters and reported studies for research and pedagogy in the field of CALL.


“Language-learner Computer Interactions” presupposes knowledge base and expertise in CALL research and language education. It is addressed to novice and established members of the CALL discourse community who want to professionally develop themselves regarding the state of the art research, discussions, and future avenues of inquiry in the area of LCI. The volume is an invaluable resource for those practitioners in a number of respects. It is the result of the collaborative work of high-caliber CALL editors and researchers such as Catherine Caws, Marie-Josee Hamel, Mathias Schulze, and Mike Levy to name a few whose pioneering perspectives and invaluable contributions have always furthered and enriched CALL scholarship. The focus on key disciplinary discussions including CALL ergonomics, CALL normalization (Bax, 2003), sustainability, and affordances, the selection of cutting-edge theories and methodologies, as well as thematic organization of the volume are all indicative of the comprehensive knowledge of the editors of the current conversations and concerns in this domain. These informed decisions and quality editing are the factors that distinguishes this volume from similar publications. Moreover, this interesting volume projects a multi-faceted picture of LCI research and pedagogy drawing on a nice patchwork of theoretical and methodological scholarship from various disciplines and areas including computer studies, engineering, TESOL, and applied linguistics. Furthermore, the research reported in this volume enjoys a wide and colourful array of conceptual frameworks, innovative methodological designs and approaches, and contextual diversities and variations which make the book a must-read for target practitioners globally. It also provides invaluable implications and suggestions for further inquiry in the area of LCI. Overall, the book is a very timely and welcome contribution and has done excellent justice to current discussions in this domain.

Bax, S. (2003). CALL - Past, Present and Future. System 31(1), 13-28.


Pejman Habibie is assistant professor of TESOL at The University of Western Ontario. He has university teaching experience in undergraduate & graduate levels in Canada, Mexico, and Iran. He has published in refereed international journals and presented at inter/national conferences. His research interests include technology-enhanced language teaching & learning, English for academic purposes, academic writing, and academic genres analysis.

Page Updated: 14-Sep-2017