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computer assisted language learning advantages

Sample essay on computer assisted language learning advantages

We learn language; whether it is our mother tongue or a foreign language, in order to make meaning in a variety of contexts for numerous practical purposes. These contextual and interactional dimensions of language use imply that not only cognitive work but also social interaction should be involved in learning a language. Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) has become popular among language learners due to its ease of use and the attractive interaction with the learners. This article highlights how computer assisted language learning can help students in learning English as foreign language. Our UK based dissertation writers are expert in helping students learn and master the English language by writing perfect and scholarly academic papers which students can use to enhance their learn and writing skills.

The characteristics of a particular language have a great impact on the design and implementation of any natural language processing in general and in the design of a retrieval system in particular. Research in information retrieval in the Arabic language is very new and limited compared to work in English and other European languages where extensive research has already been done. Special characteristics of the Arabic language make it difficult to deal with, especially when using a system designed for Roman characters. Among these characteristics are the right to left orientation, the fact that vowels may be included or dropped, and the morphological structure.

computer assisted language learning advantages

Computer assisted language learning for Children

The author of (Warschauer, 1996) discusses the progress of Computer assisted language learning (CALL) related research over the past thirty years. He puts forth pedagogical issues that educators must contend with when developing CALL based applications, and steers away from discussing technical software or hardware related concerns in this subject area. Pedagogical concerns are also addressed in the study described in (Bowerman, 1992) within the context of the tutorial module, in which the teaching framework and operations are set up and executed.

The acquisition of second language listening skills is an area of second language research that has, until recently, been seen as being a passive skill that was acquired simply by listening to a conversation. Due to this assumption, students were expected to comprehend the meaning of an aural text in terms of what took place and in what context. Over time, this failed approach has made second language instructors question the efficacy of their listening instruction and the effect it had in the classroom.

Today, listening has changed from being thought of as a passive skill, to one that requires interaction in order to be fully acquired. This new concept in the acquisition of listening has forced second language instructors to reexamine their listening approach and to seek out alternative ways to engage students in the target language.

To enhance this approach to listening instruction, specific learning and listening strategies have been identified as being highly effective at developing listening skills in second language learners (Oxford, 2001; Vandergrift, 2004). These strategies have been identified by Oxford (2001) as being cognitive, metacognitive, and socioaffective in nature, each with its own way of making audible language more comprehensible. By utilizing such strategies, listening activities have become more interactive and dynamic in terms of how language is employed to the advantage of second language learners.

With the advent of the Internet, the implementation of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) has become a key factor in how second languages are taught all over the world. Language instructors can now, in seconds, access authentic language materials that were only a dream to have two decades ago. Today, the use of websites like YouTube offers an infinite array of possibilities about how to increase the efficacy of listening instruction. When various audiovisual and audio-only materials are applied with the aforementioned listening strategies, listening uptake has been shown to increase among second language listeners (Jones, 2008). However, technology integration in regard to listening instruction may be a problem among second language professionals.

Because technology is in a state of constant change, it can be hard to keep up with operate tools and utilize materials to benefit student learning. Because of this difficulty, it has been suggested that second language instructors who are not proficient in CALL may resort to more traditional means of listening instruction with which they are familiar (Frane, Beltrán, Petit, Tweddle, & Barge, 2009). If this is the case, second language learners may be at a disadvantage due to the trepidation felt by their teacher. To resolve this dilemma, all language instructors should be properly trained in the effective use and implementation of CALL-based materials inside the classroom (O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007). Students will then be able to capitalize on their listening potential using authentic materials suitable for the twenty-first century classroom.

computer assisted language learning uk

Because technology is in a state of constant change, it can be hard to keep up with operate tools and utilize materials to benefit student learning. Because of this difficulty, it has been suggested that second language instructors who are not proficient in CALL may resort to more traditional means of listening instruction with which they are familiar (Frane, Beltrán, Petit, Tweddle, & Barge, 2009). If this is the case, second language learners may be at a disadvantage due to the trepidation felt by their teacher. To resolve this dilemma, all language instructors should be properly trained in the effective use and implementation of CALL-based materials inside the classroom (O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007). Students will then be able to capitalize on their listening potential using authentic materials suitable for the twenty-first century classroom.

The emergence of technology use inside the second language classroom has afforded new opportunities to enhance language learning, especially in the area of listening, which Vandergrift (2004) states “is probably the least explicit of the four language skills, making it the most difficult skill to learn” (p. 4). Therefore, the focus of this paper is to research the role that technology has on the teaching of listening, and how technology can be fully integrated into second language classrooms using effective teaching approaches and strategies. The importance of this topic cannot be overlooked, according to Smidt and Hegelheimer (2004), because “the mere provision of media and resources alone” (p. 541) is not enough to ensure the successful implementation of various new and complex tools. To resolve any issues with such implementation, proper training must be provided to instructors to ensure that CALL-based listening instruction for students is successful.

The use of technology to teach listening is a complex process that involves many factors such as listening approaches, strategies, and the incorporation of new technology. The best way to come to understand this complicated balance of pedagogy and technology is to first learn what research has found in the teaching of listening before the advent of CALL.

Top-down processing of Computer Aided Language Learning 

Hegelheimer and Tower (2004) state that in order to be successful in learning a new language, the learner must participate and practice it in a meaningful way, which is a notion supported by second language acquisition theory. In her research about technology use in language classrooms, Jones (2008) echoes this sentiment by stating that historically, language instructors have deemed it necessary for students to use language in an authentic manner. She further identified the communicative approach as a method of teaching that “emphasized a more active use of language to perform tasks based on meaning, not form” (p. 402). In other words, learners must not be bogged down in grammar-translation listening activities that do not emphasize the purpose or meaning of the language text being heard. A top-down approach then, may be the best way to facilitate such a meaning based listening activity in second language classes while utilizing appropriate topics to capture students‟ attention and heighten their motivation to listen more carefully.

Numerous researchers, such as Morley (2001) reveal that top-down processing involves the use of a “bank of prior knowledge” and a set of “global expectations about language and the world” (p. 74). The author goes on to say that these mechanisms are utilized to help the listener foretell what the text being heard is going to mean, and how it fits into their prior knowledge (Morley, 2001). Brown (2007) concurs by interjecting that schemata, also known as schematic knowledge, may be used to comprehend the meaning of a text through a broader view. Moreover, the use of schematic knowledge with top-down processing may hint at the fact that listeners could use it as a blueprint to comprehend specific texts (Vandergrift, 2003).

The challenge that remains is how teachers should encourage the use of top-down processing in their classrooms. By using oral and written texts that are beyond the linguistic ability of students to comprehend, as recommended by Hulstijn (2003), students may be more likely to use this approach, which appeals to their schematic knowledge to decipher meaning. Another way of encouraging the use of top-down processing would be to directly teach listening strategies to students who are looking to improve their listening skills in class (Cross, 2009). The explicit teaching of listening strategies will be discussed in later sections. Teachers could also emphasize the use of top-down processing by using recordings of native speakers of a target language while promoting the overall understanding of a challenging listening text (Jones, 2008).

Bottom-up processing Computer Aided Language Learning 

Having examined a top-down approach to listening instruction, this paper now focuses its attention on the bottom-up approach. According to Vandergrift (2003), in this approach, language learners construct understanding from a listening text by making meaningful connections associated with grammar and lexical items. This construction of meaning is achieved by utilizing their linguistic repertoire that has been linked with the use of bottom-up processing. This idea is enhanced by Morley (2001), who states that bottom-up processing is the way that a learner comes to know the meaning of a spoken text. This is accomplished through the ability to process “familiar sounds to words to grammatical relationships to lexical meanings” (Morley, 2001, p. 74). She further claims that bottom-up processing requires the listener to listen very carefully to oral input (Morley, 2001). Careful listening is necessary due to the fact that a bottom-up approach to listening requires learners to listen for very distinct details in spoken language. Brown (2007) concurs, stating that bottom-up processing is built around the understanding of various grammatical configurations such as sounds, words and other factors that attribute to oral output; however, he stresses that teachers should not employ the use of bottom-up processing frequently due to the claim that it may hinder the acquisition of automaticity with respect to spoken oral input.

Technological Materials in Learning Instruction

The use of technology in the second language classroom has been studied for many years. Beginning with the introduction of cassette tapes that accompany language textbooks, to the advent of the internet, the use of technology has been tried and tested on various levels in order to enhance language learning. It could be proposed, however, that the skill that is most greatly improved by technology is listening, due to the advent of online audiovisual materials that improve input. With the use of the internet, an almost infinite supply of authentic resources is available for teachers to utilize. Technology however, still appears to have a reputation of being challenging in the minds of many educators. Because of this perceived difficulty, it may not be used in a manner that is productive to improving listening skills. Frane et al. (2009) state that teachers use approaches that they are accustomed to based upon their personal experiences in the classroom. Based on this observation, second language instructors may still be wary of new advancements in technology, and as a result, they may not seize the opportunity to familiarize themselves with these new tools for the advancement of listening in their students.

computer assisted language learningTo help overcome this fear of technology use, it is suggested that teachers could be taught how to use computers and other technologies so that any apprehension towards them is relieved (O’Bryan & Hegelheimer, 2007). One of the most prominent concerns among teachers seems to be how to fully integrate technology into the classroom and what pedagogical changes might occur with these changes. Researchers such as Stockwell (2007) and Joshi (2010) describe the relationship between technology and pedagogy as a symbiotic one whereby they rely on each other for their mutual success or failure in the teaching of languages. Put another way, these two pieces of the puzzle could be seen as “the chicken or the egg” (Stockwell, 2007, p. 118) debate that as new technologies emerge, they may allow for new pedagogical changes in teaching. Likewise, as new pedagogical methods materialize, they may give way to possible advancements in technology (Stockwell, 2007).

Given that technological materials could directly affect listening instruction in the classroom, it is imperative that they are implemented through a strategy-based approach so that listening can be enhanced. However, providing technologically advanced materials to language classrooms may not be enough to ensure that they are being used effectively; just like teachers, students may also have to be instructed on how to optimally use them in class activities (Smidt & Hegelheimer, 2004). Proper training in the use of new materials in class may not only enhance the students‟ learning environment, but could also allow input to become more comprehensible through the easing of anxiety and through the use of various stimuli that new technologies offer to second language learners.

Factors such as the use of sight, sound, and text are three features thought to be used in various technological materials that could potentially help learners enhance their listening skills (Jones, 2008). It has been thought that with continuing innovations in technology, listening tasks may become “more multisensory and interactive” (Jones, 2008, p. 406). If this is true, it may be prudent for teachers to understand that successful implementation of technology in the classroom may be entirely dependent upon the use of pedagogical activities that are not possible in other learning settings (Salaberry, 2001). Thus, the use of technology in a classroom would not be to simply replicate, but rather to enhance the completion of tasks that could only be accomplished through the use of computers or other technological devices (Hughes, Thomas, & Scharber, 2006). Levy and Stockwell (2006) concur with this assertion by stating that “an essential factor in using technology to teach any language skill or area is that technology should provide something that is not available through more traditional means” (p. 180). In other words, if it is possible to complete an activity using a traditional blackboard or other non-technological material, then technology should probably not be used just to replicate the same activity if it did not enhance learning outcomes.


In order for technology to be implemented successfully inside any second language classroom, it needs to be implemented through a balanced approach to learning instruction that utilizes both top-down and bottom-up processing. With respect to learning comprehension, the mere utilization of technology may not be enough for students to benefit from the advantages that it can offer. Students need to interact directly with the material being used in a way that makes input comprehensible. If this effect is the goal of technology usage, technology should be looked at as simply another mode by which to help students understand a language. 

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