Computer Assisted Language Learning
A Brief History of CALL
By Jessica Morones, Cesiah Guzman and Marisela Salinas
Early developments in CALL. Features some significant CALL programs which serve to illustrate what is both possible and desirable in CALL.
A comparison of behaviourist and constructivist design features
A behaviourist design«
Eliminates extraneous information Simplifies for comprehensibility Uses a convergent, task-analysed model as a basis Reconstructs/replicates knowledge Abstracts instruction experiences Focuses on acquiring skills Offers prescriptive sequences of instruction Supports individual learning and competition
A constructivist design«
Supports natural complexity and content Avoids oversimplification Presents multiple representations/perspectives Engages knowledge construction Presents instruction in real-world contexts (authentic tasks) Engages reflective practice Offers open learning environments Supports collaboration
A summary of behaviourist and constructivist approaches to learning materials (after Jonnassen, Wilson, Wang and Grabinger, 1993)
CALL in the 1950s and 1960s
The first computers used for language learning were large 1950·s mainframes that were only available at research facilities on university campuses. The importance of finding ways efficiently and scientifically to teach language was perceived and time and funds made available for research.
The first CALL programs created at three pioneering institutions Stanford University, Darmouth University and the University and the University of Essex (The Scientific Language Project) all focused on the teaching of Russian, although, eventually, other languages were included as well.
Concept 2.1 Machine translation
Machine translation (MT) is the application of computers to the task of translating texts from one natural language to another. The task is made difficult by the impreciseness of languages and the use of sarcasm, puns, innuendo, idiomatic expressions and rhetorical devices.
Programmed Logic/Learning Teaching Operations system.
It was developed in 1959 by the University of Illinois working with a business partner, Control Data Corporation. PLATO combined some of the best CALL features.
Much of PLATO first language learning work was done in teaching Russian using a grammar translation approach. The system had so-called ¶intelligent· features still used today, such as tests that were followed by directions to complete appropriate remedial work depending on the errors a learner had made.
In terms of Second Language Acquisition, the Grammar Translation approach probably appeared to work to a limited degree in early programs such as PLATO.
The importance of simulations, with different avenues of exploration, is that they create challenges for learners to explore multiple links and see the consequences of different actions and inputs. This turns the classroom, or computer-based environment into a place where participants learn through the frequent making of errors in a nonthreatening way.
Simulations in autonomous learning that allow for repeated attempts may lower the positive stress that often fuels learning; participants recognize that it does not matter if they make errors so they may become lackadaisical in their approach.
The simulation game or simply game is simulation or reenactment of various activities or "real life" in the form of a game for various purposes: training, analysis, or prediction. Well-known examples are war games, business games, and roleplay simulation. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_game
Possibilites and limitations in simulations
It has been shown that simulation games are very useful in the classroom.
However, ´Because simulations and models are but an imitation of reality, their use requires a certain amount of imagination. The more realistic a simulation is, the less imagination is required, on the contrary«. ´ Merill et al. (1996:93).
r ex l i s limit ti f sim l ti s:
The term situation, however, has two aspects: There are real situations and there are simulated situations in the classroom in the syllabus. The problem is how to make simulated situations resemble real situations. How to turn a wooden dialogue into something real. The answer is to avoid simulation to create authentic and appropriate language.
CALL is easily capable of creating learning situations of great fidelity or authenticity through the presentation of images of realia and through audio and video that present real world situations as realistically as television but with greater interaction. PLATO (Programmed Learning for Automated Teaching Operations), set a standard for educational computing influencing a generation of educational software developers.
During the 1970s and 1980s, computers were classified into mainframe computers, mini-computers and microcomputers Mainframe computers: Room sized computers Mini-computers: what we now call servers Microcomputers: what we now call desktop Portable or laptop: are included in the microcomputer category but were introduced much later and are now much more powerful than the first mainframe computers.
One focus of CALL research during the 70s and 80s was videodisc technology, a high-volume storage system. Unlike videotape, videodisc players featured rapid access to multiple points on ´chaptersµ on a disk and had better pause, or freeze frame featuresalong with the possibility of advancing one frame at a time through a set of video or static images of pages of text.
The high speed and storage capacity of videodisc technology made it possible for computers to go beyond behaviourist models of instruction on less powerful computers that generally relied upon textual exercises.
The use of video-based exercises makes practice inherently more meaningful than traditional text-based exercises . Video gives students an understandable context in which to work while providing many extralinguistic clues. The control options built into the interactive lesson allow students a range of problemsolving strategies to choose from.
Gale (1989) describes Macario as an early videodisc program for learning Spanish. It was developed at Brigham Young University.
The first interactive videodisc project at BYU was a repurposed Mexican motion picture shown in intermediate Spanish classes for its rich cultural symbolism.
This model sought to annotate and amplify the one-dimensional, linear video presentation, by adding multiple dimensions of information such as transcriptions, glossaries, dictionaries, or grammar paradigms, as well as tutorial questions and comments.
Montevidisco and Interactive Digame
Gale (1989) mentions two similar videodisc programs that feature non-linear opportunities for learning, Montevidisco and Interactive Digame.
These two programs opened the idea of learners making greater choices about what is to be learned at the computer.
Nouns Verbs Adjectives Articles
Montevidisco and Digame
Nouns Verbs Articles
It was teacher- controlled situations in which on-screen video provided visual and listening opportunities that were intended to be followed-up within target conversation in the target language.
It was similar to what we know as videoconferencing«
This program left the learners free to discuss their own interpretation of the reality on the screen.
The Montevidisco introduces a plaza where the learner is confronted with a local citizen. The citizen speaks and then the video frame freezes and presents several choices of response.
This non-linear approach is an essential element on many current interactive software learning programs and serves to differentiate them from paper learning materials which generally require learners to begin on page one and proceed page by page until they reach the end of the book.
A non-linear approach in computer-based learning is attractive because it allows for greater learner autonomy and encourages critical thinking.
The Athena Language Learning Project (ALLP)
Began in 1983 as part of a heavy funded long-term Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) project exploring the role of the computer in education. ALLP worked UNIversity eXchange, workstations that were a little less powerful than common laptop computers today.
These UNIX machines were connected to each other and t textual and visual databases through a local network (LAN)
No Recuerdos (I Don·t Remenber)
No recuerdo is an interactive video project designed to provide intermediate college students of Spanish with a simulated immersion experience in South America, integrating linguistic and cultural aspects. The objectives are improved listening comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, cultural awareness, and writing skills.
Main Character: Gonzalo Story: Gonzalo, an amnesiac scientist, cannot the location of a biological hazard which could destroy the whole of Latin America. Learners have to help Gonzalo to recall what has happened .
Created in 1976 by Joseph Weizenbaum, the Eliza software seeks clarification and stimulates a sympathetic listener through a series of general comments, requests for explanations and paraphrases/rephrasings of the learners` comments with additional question tags.
Eliza: How are you today? Learner: I´m feeling tired tired. Eliza: Why are you feeling tired tired? Learner: I watched the football game last night. Eliza: Tell me more about the football game last night.
And so on«