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Technologies in Use for Second Language Learning

MIKE LEVY Grifth University Nathan Campus 170 Kessels Road, Nathan Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia Email: This article describes the technologies in use for second language learning, in relation to the major language areas and skills. In order, these are grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, pronunciation, listening, speaking, and culture. With each language area or skill, the relevant technologies are discussed with examples that illustrate how practitioners have employed the technological tool to help assist the language learner. In each case, the examples are chosen to highlight current points of focus and priorities, to give an indication of successful applications, and, in some cases, to draw attention to areas in which further work is required before a viable application is achieved.

IT IS INSTRUCTIVE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of the technologies in use to compare and reect upon the technologies described in Garretts (1991) seminal article with those in use today. Inevitably, much has changed, especially with the introduction of multimedia, mobile technologies, and the advent of the Internet. These technologies, in turn, have led to new forms of communication, text production, collaboration, and social networking. At rst glance, todays technological environment appears to have changed beyond recognition compared to that described by Garrett. However, when looking a little closer, and with language learning and teaching as the focus, it is by no means entirely a question of difference. For example, according to Garrett, broadly speaking, language teachers still lack a major voice in determining which technologies are chosen for their use and technology integration remains an issue. There are also similarities and parallels today with Garretts discussion of the value of generic applications for second language (L2) learning in addition to special-purpose language learning software. Garretts article also involved

The Modern Language Journal, 93, Focus Issue, (2009) 0026-7902/09/769782 $1.50/0 C 2009 The Modern Language Journal

comparisons and contrasts between the technologies that at that time were well established and accepted and those that were relatively new and just beginning to be adopted and used regularly: Such a perspective is equally relevant today (Levy & Stockwell, 2006). These points will be taken up in the discussion section after a review of the technologies currently in use. Like Garrett (1991), I take a modular approach to the language areas and skills. This is helpful, partly because such a division is familiar to language teaching professionals but especially because it provides an effective structure for representing the scope and range of technologies in use. With a more holistic approach it would be very easy to overlook important areas of technological application to language learning. A modular approach also generally requires developers and users to be more explicit in describing their goals for learning and the concomitant role of the technology leading to a benecial focus on language learning rather than simply language use. At the same time, this approach also has its limitations. By placing a technology in a category as I have done here, by discussing podcasts under listening, for example, readers may be led to believe that this technology can only be used for listening and not other language areas and skills, such as culture learning. However, as long as this

770 limitation is recognized, the modular approach is helpful. In the discussion, each section lists the technologies in use with the skills or subskills they target in the various language learning applications. A small number of examples are included to exemplify the relationship between the area or skill and the technology. Unfortunately, there is insufcient space to include a detailed theoretical exposition and review of the research ndings in relation to each area and skill and its attendant technologies. As the purpose of this article is to focus on technologies in use, the theoretical base and review of research ndings in relation to each language skill or area will necessarily be limited.

The Modern Language Journal 93 (2009) Heift & Schulze, 2007). Thus, for example, Heift and Schulze described The German Tutor , which features an Error Priority Queue that ranks student errors and provides a single feedback message when multiple errors occur. By keeping a detailed record of student performance, modern parser-based CALL systems are able to develop sophisticated student models that shape subsequent studentcomputer interactions, especially in terms of feedback, assessment, and remediation (Heift & Schulze, 2007). A wide range of technologies is increasingly becoming involved. For example, in relation to NLP and CALL, Nerbonne included concordancing, text alignment, speech recognition and synthesis, syntactic processing, and machine translation in his discussion. Concordancing and corpus studies are worthy of special note in the recent development of ICALL and parser-based NLP systems (Granger, Kraif, Ponton, Antoniadis, & Zampa, 2007; Vannest al & Lindquist, 2007). Of special interest is the learner corpus, an electronic collection of texts produced by L2 learners in which learner errors are tagged and categorized into groups. Thus, in a parser-based NLP system, when a learner error is identied, the learner can not only be offered feedback in the usual sense but can also be referred to the learner corpus in which errors of a similar kind may be reviewed in their various contexts. Such systems are further enhanced by the possibilities of annotation and error categorization according to certain criteria (e.g., errors from learners who share the same rst language [L1]). Thus, any feedback may be evaluated in the light of a representative set of similar examples, giving the learner more of a sense of the degree to which the feedback may be extended and applied in other situations. Granger et al. (2007) concluded that this combination of technologies is especially benecial for raising language awareness and focus on form. This enrichment of the context within which feedback is given may be further enhanced by a multimodal concordancer and corpus, which allow the learner to retrieve segments of video and audio from a tagged corpus (see Ackerley & Coccetta, 2007). Although there are many existing prospects for more sophisticated programs for grammar learning, they do not yet appear to have reached the wider language education market, and it is fair to say that most grammar programs are still very basic in the ways they process learner input, diagnose errors, and provide feedback.

THE LANGUAGE AREAS AND SKILLS Grammar In the early days, grammar-oriented tutorial exercises were perceived as one of the most valuable applications in computer-assisted language learning (CALL). In recent years, sentence-based, grammar-oriented tasks created by teachers for their own learners using commercially produced CALL software or authoring software remain a component of many language learning programs, although generally they are now more rmly embedded in a communicative context (Chan & Kim, 2004). Grammar-focussed activities are also common on language learning Web sites, including pay Web sites (e.g., English Town, http:// In addition, there are a number of grammar tutorial activities that involve conscious reection on not only form but also meaning and usage (see Hubbard & Bradin Siskin, 2004, for a discussion). Still, these activities tend to be rudimentary in terms of the computer programs analysis of learner errors and in the feedback provided. As a result, there has been a continuing interest in developing software that is able to generate better informed analysis and feedback (Dodigovic, 2005; Heift & Schulze, 2007). Improving error analysis, diagnosis, and feedback has been of continuing interest in the area of natural-language processing (NLP), parserbased CALL, and intelligent CALL (ICALL; Nerbonne, 2003). Here, researchers and developers are aiming at emulating some of the qualities of an expert teacher, such as the ability to assess the importance of an error or to provide more nuanced feedback (Dodigovic, 2005;

Mike Levy Vocabulary Vocabulary, alongside grammar, has been one of the traditional areas of focus in CALL (Levy, 1997). Vocabulary continues to attract attention because of the sheer size of the task for the learner, its obvious importance for students with varying goals and prociency levels, and the inherent capabilities of the computer that are more attuned to dealing with the more discrete aspects of language learning. Not surprisingly, the range of technologies is broad and includes courseware (commercial and self-developed), online activities, dictionaries, corpora and concordancing, and computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies (Stockwell, 2007a). Discrete-point activities for vocabulary learning practice are common and have been employed for many years. The well-known Hot Potatoes ( software is a good example, which includes six straightforward tutorial activities for vocabulary and grammar learning. Although the six activities are discrete and conceptualised conceptualized largely around the word and the sentence, which some teachers may consider a limitation, there is a considerable amount of exibility provided within the default formats, such as the option of including a simple Flash audio player to play sound les so that learners may listen to new vocabulary items separately and in context. Much vocabulary learning software makes use of the simple keyword hyperlink, which typically connects the user directly to a dictionary denition, a translation, or an image. Multimedia annotations incorporating audio and video are increasingly common (Yeh & Wang, 2003). A good example of a commercial program that has this function is WordChamp (http://www., an online vocabulary-building tool that may be activated to apply to any selected Web page. When the user clicks on any word, the dictionary function provides a standard definition, an audio pronunciation of the word, and a translation into another language, as required. The system also enables the user to build personalized word lists. The drawbacks of such programs as WordChamp concern the use of word-by-word translation rather the more accurate translation that potentially could be provided by a more sophisticated parsing system. However, the program does contain well-constructed tasks that focus on building content vocabulary when learners examine authentic Web sites designed for native speakers; as a result, the program remains a particularly

771 versatile aid to have readily available in the background. Beyond simple links to resources and mechanical practice, L2 vocabulary learning requires systematic recycling of new items at optimal intervals, recontextualization, memory support to promote recall, and production and feedback opportunities. A valuable example of a vocabulary learning site is the Lexical Tutor (, which illustrates well the breadth of online vocabulary applications that have been created. In vocabulary learning, multiple meanings of high-frequency vocabulary need to be addressed. Technologies invoked to address these challenges include software developed by Nakata (2006) to provide optimal scheduling of feedback and rehearsal opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efciency of vocabulary learning. Computer-based lexical activities are also being developed using carefully formulated design principles drawn from insights from current research in cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. A good example is the in the work of Lafford, Lafford, and Sykes (2007), who have proposed 10 design features to underpin the creation of Spanish CALL materials for lexical acquisition. Such work is aimed at engaging learners in deep processing and in furthering their understanding of the layers of meanings associated with lexical items in different contexts. With broadly similar intent, using a depth of lexical processing scale, Loucky (2006) described how a wide range of CALL tools could be used to promote learners receptive and productive vocabulary development. To date, vocabulary learning has also been a focus for developing applications and materials for the mobile phone (Kennedy & Levy, 2008; Stockwell, 2007b; Thornton & Houser, 2002). Like the computer, the mobile phone is a multifunction device, and with recent innovations such as the iPhone, it is to be expected that further applications will quickly emerge to address other areas and skills of language learning. Common features of these devices include Internet access, voice messaging, short message service (SMS) text messaging, photography, and video recording. An example of recent work on the use of CALL to acquire vocabulary is by Levy and Kennedy, who exploited SMS messaging for learning Italian (Kennedy & Levy, 2008; Levy & Kennedy, 2005). From a practical point of view, vocabulary items can be presented through short denitions and examples that suit the screen dimensions and general handling capabilities of the

772 mobile phone. The particular advantage of this technology is its ubiquity and, with a message distribution system, the capacity to plan recycling of new terms and to prepare messages in advance for delivery later at specic times. Thus, messages can be distributed at the time they are required to complement face-to-face work in class and the curriculum. Although these advantages are of considerable potential value, the material constraints of the mobile phone such as the screen size still currently limit its use for language learners, as demonstrated in a research study by Stockwell (2007b). In this study, participants could choose to complete their assigned vocabulary learning tasks via the phone or the computer, and in the ndings, the student access log data clearly showed a preference for the computer over the phone. More detailed analysis showed that this preference was related to both material and contextual factors, including screen size, ease of use, the expense of the service (in Japan), and ambient noise while in transit (Stockwell, 2007b, p. 378). Similar kinds of drawbacks are also likely to be encountered with other mobile devices such as personal digital assistants, MP3 players, and digital voice recorders, which are increasingly being tested and used in the teaching and learning of vocabulary for English, French, Spanish, and Chinese (Born, 2007; Chinnery, 2006). The challenge for developers, as is so often the case in CALL, is to work effectively within known constraints. Reading According to Chun (2006), the CALL technologies in use for L2 reading are:
electronic dictionaries, software that provides textual, contextual and/or multimedia annotations, computer-based training programs that aim to accelerate and automatize word recognition, Web-based activities that seek to teach a variety of components (from text structures and discourse organization to reading strategies) and the Internet as a source of materials for extensive reading. (p. 69)

The Modern Language Journal 93 (2009) what is important and relevant. An alternative approach is to create a system for evaluating texts for vocabulary or reading difculty or to provide additional tools to assist the learner. Huang and Liou (2007) described such an environment that used new software to search a corpus of readings for recurring words, with the aim of locating passages that gave learners the best opportunities to encounter new words repeatedly; the program then used frequency lists to place the texts in order of difculty. Cobb (2007) used a text modication approach and lexical tools to accomplish a similar goal. With electronic dictionaries, research ndings have shown that even when a variety of information sources is made available, most students opt for simple denitions, or translations, or both (Laufer & Hill, 2000). Chun (2006) observed that the pedagogical issue is then to determine whether and how to encourage readers to use the multimedia glosses available to them, particularly when vocabulary acquisition is one of the concomitant goals of reading (p. 78). Making multiple annotation types available is one thing; getting learners to use them and to use them appropriately is quite another. Sometimes excellent annotations or dictionary denitions are available, but they cannot be accessed readily and the learners do not know how to use them optimally. To counter these potential deciencies, usability and learner training are crucial. Resources need to be readily available in a way that is timely and intuitive for the user, and the learner needs to know when it is most effective and useful to access these resources. Additionally, as far as possible, the program needs to be designed to match the individual students preferred learning style and prociency level. Chun showed the importance of incorporating individual differences in a research study that examined look-up behavior with glosses for vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension. For developers, this is signicant because it means that although certain technological applications (video annotations) may be effective with some learners, this may not prove to be the case with others (Jones, 2003; Plass, Chun, Mayer, & Leutner, 1998). Writing Since the early 1980s with the spread of the microcomputer, the word processor has undoubtedly become one of the most widely accepted technologies for writing. Its central function to facilitate the exible manipulation of text enables drafting and redrafting to occur easily, and the eventual product may be presented to

Broadly speaking, these technologies are applied to assist the reader with further information or exemplication or to provide practice and exposure to extended texts. Al-Seghayer (2007) examined the role of organizational devices in readers construction of mental representations of hypertext content and found that well-structured hypertext was especially important for less procient readers. He described organizational devices that support cognitive processes and direct learners attention to

Mike Levy a professional standard (see Pennington, 2004; Pennington & Brock, 1992). Yet the word processor is not without its complications for L2 learners, especially in relation to the resource tools that typically accompany it, such as spelling and grammar checkers (see Heift & Schulze, 2007, pp. 8488, for a discussion). Typical problems occur because these commercial applications have been designed for native, not nonnative, speakers (NNSs) and so often do not correctly identify and respond to L2 learner errors. Consequently, one avenue of development work has been to create specialised checkers such as FipsOrtho, a spell checker specically designed for learners of French that utilises a corpus of learner errors to obtain a sample of specic language errors for reference (LHaire, 2007). Another approach to developing grammatical accuracy in L2 writing is the use of the interactive iWRITE system, a multimodal, corpus-based online grammar resource (Hegelheimer, 2006; Hegelheimer & Fisher, 2006). Ho and Savignon (2007) described an approach to the use of the Track Changes function in Microsoft Word in the context of computer-mediated peer review via email. Such an approach provides for contextspecic feedback and illustrates well a collaborative approach to writing. Collectively, these tools variously address central problems in the development of the writing skill, including the need for accuracy, production, multiple drafts, channels for context-sensitive feedback and correction, peer editing, reection, and a record of the process. Importantly, all projects described in this paragraph recognise the substantial limitations of generic commercial products for teaching and learning writing, such as the problem of a language learner taking advice from a grammar checker designed for native speakers when the advice given assumes the knowledge base of a native speaker. In contrast, the projects described in this section set out to provide custom-designed tools with the appropriate teaching strategies to assist the L2 learner. A key differentiating factor among the technologies used for writing hinges on the level of formality expected or required. Whereas the kinds of academic writing discussed by Hegelheimer (2006) are formal and require appropriate tools to address issues of accuracy and appropriacy, other tools are readily available for more personal, informal kinds of writing. Web logs or blogs t well into this category, and there are many examples in contemporary CALL (Ducate & Lomicka, 2008; Fellner & Apple, 2006). A blog is a Web page with regular diary or journal entries, using text, audio, or video. With regard to writing, particular areas

773 of focus have been self-expression, creativity, ownership, and community building. For example, Ducate and Lomicka described two blog projects in intermediate university-level French and German. The projects were designed such that learners moved from readers of native-speaker blogs to writers of their own blogs. Blogs have many strengths, especially in terms of encouraging selfexpression through informal writing, but they do tend to require considerable monitoring and moderation from the teacher to operate successfully over time in an educational setting. Different blog programs also offer varying degrees of functionalityfor instance, in terms of levels of interactivity, levels of access, and visual capacity and so it may be advantageous to review a number of systems before nally settling on a particular blog provider. Beyond word processing tools, learner corpora, and email to enable collaborative writing and peer review, numerous other technological tools have been employed in L2 writing. These include student-designed webpages, photo-editing, PowerPoint presentations, weblogs, and wikis (Murray & Hourigan, 2006, p. 149). Godwin-Jones (2008) mentioned many more under the heading Emerging technologiesWeb-Writing 2.0: Enabling, documenting and assessing writing online. Many of these technologies relate to the online construction of texts (word and image) and social networking. Although the word writing remains in the titles of these recent works, the sense in which this skill is understood has broadened, reecting contemporary thinking in multiliteracies and the combination of the word and the image in the creation of multimodal texts (see Gonglewski & DuBravac, 2006, for a discussion). It is also appropriate under writing to include text chat , a form of synchronous CMC (SCMC). As far as chat is concerned, until fairly recently, most CALL projects concentrated on interactions via typed text (e.g., Negretti, 1999; Tudini, 2003). Now, however, voicechat is increasingly being employed, thus blurring the role of chat in terms of its categorization within the writing and speaking domains (see the later section on speaking). The tools used to facilitate text chat are varied, and some examples include ChatNet IRC and the Virtual Classroom component of BlackBoard. The choice of chat tool may depend on the language of the chat sessions. Xie (2002), for example, adopted an internet relay chat (IRC) program called mIRC as a part of teaching his Chinese classes, as it allowed the participants to input and read Chinese characters, something that was not possible in many other IRC programs.

774 Pronunciation In an overview of computer-aided pronunciation training (CAPT) pedagogy, Pennington (1999) assessed its potential, its limitations, and likely directions for the future (see also Neri, 2007). The strengths of CAPT included the ability to motivate and to raise awareness of individual difculties using technologies that were quick, precise, tuned to the individual learner, and highly salient; the main limitation at that time concerned the fact that certain aspects of pronunciation do not show up well in the visual representations of the speech analysis such as (simplied or modied) waveforms and so cannot generally be trained by such representations (Pennington, 1999, p. 431). Almost a decade later Chun (2008) noted technological advances in acoustic phonetic software have the potential to help learners improve their pronunciation and speaking competence but that sound pedagogically-based feedback beyond simply displaying pitch curves is still lacking, yet essential (p. 17; see also Engwall & B alter, 2007). Turning a simple display into an effective tool for learning is by no means straightforward, and in some ways, CAPT software is still a matter of potential rather than realization. Nonetheless, progress is being made in the design of pronunciation software either by targeting the design to a homogeneous student group (L1 or L2) or by more nuanced approaches to input evaluation and feedback. Commercial ventures such as Carnegie Speech (, which developed from Carnegie Mellon Universitys SPHINX speech recognition project, also provide good examples of the state of the art. An excellent example of a package that provides more detailed learner feedback on pronunciation was provided by Tsubota, Dantsuji, and Kawahara (2004) for Japanese learners of English. The software identies the aspects of English pronunciation with which the learners are experiencing difculties, specically searching for 10 areas predicted as being problematic for Japanese learners. After identifying the areas in which the students require more practice, the software then automatically provides feedback and practice in those areas in which errors were detected. Aimed at a student group similar in background and goals, Shudong, Higgins, and Shima (2005) described an Internet-based support system that makes use of a corpus of sample data from native speakers (see also Campbell, McConnell, Meinardi, & Richardson, 2007). The system identies specic difculties and then provides a number of interactive approaches and

The Modern Language Journal 93 (2009) activity types to address them. Very detailed and precisely targeted feedback is a feature of this system. As with many of the more tutorial approaches to CALL, the precise nature and timing of feedback is critical (see Heift & Schulze, 2007). Despite the greater technical sophistication of feedbackproviding pronunciation software packages, the question of which type of feedback is more effective in improving student pronunciation is still contentious (Hew & Ohki, 2004). Engwall and B alter (2007) provided a detailed examination of the challenges of feedback design in CAPT. Based on data from learner and teacher interviews and on observations focussing on the ways teachers give feedback in the classroom and the errors that should be corrected, the authors created a computer-animated pronunciation coach that pays special attention to the particular problems that should be corrected and the way in which the feedback should be given. The system targets a narrower range of pronunciation difculties than is typically encountered while providing a wider range of feedback strategies to suit individual learner preferences. Listening Digitized audio and video have made their way into all aspects of educational computing. On the Internet, streaming audio and video allow the learner access to a vast quantity of audio material of all kinds. Audio and video les may be stored, managed, and distributed to provide for easy access for learning using conventional means plus more recent technologies such as MP3 players. Listening materials may be manually or automatically downloaded to a computer or portable media players for later study and use through simple le transfer, podcasts, and Web casts. There are also numerous CDs, DVDs, and Web sites available for many languages that provide listening materials. Readily available programs such as Media Player enable the learner to examine sound and video les in exible ways for learning, by adjusting the speed to slow down the stream of language or to pause and repeat key segments. In listening, learners initially need to distinguish and learn the sounds of the L2the prosody of the language, including intonation, rhythm, and stressto extract meaning. They need to sample and understand authentic, natural speech in a variety of contexts to the point they can identify patterns and predict what comes next without necessarily having to hear it (Frommer, 2006). CALL technologies for listening have been applied to

Mike Levy address these learning goals to facilitate segmentation, repetition, speed regulation, interactivity, and links to further information (Jones, 2003; Zhao, 1997). Specic types include advanced organizers and prelistening/viewing tools to activate learners prior knowledge and learning strategies, annotated information links (text, image, etc.), and captioned video to enhance comprehensible input (Jones, 2006). An excellent example of multimedia CALL software developed to address the listening skill specically is described by Hulstijn (2003). Using connectionist models of language processing, the software is designed to help the learner analyse the continuous speech stream in real time and convert meaningless tiny bits of acoustic information into meaningful units, such as speech sounds, syllables and words (Hulstijn, 2003, p. 414). The 123LISTEN software is designed for this task whereby the optimal use is for the learner to play a listening text, fragment by fragment, reconstruct the utterance, and then check his/her prediction by displaying the subtitles (Hulstijn, 2003). A new technology that is also gaining much interest for the development of listening skills is the podcast (McCarty, 2005; OBryan & Hegelheimer, 2007; Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). A podcast is an audio/video le that can be broadcast via the Internet with sound les that are pushed to subscribers, often at regular intervals. A podcasting blog is also an option (see McCarty, 2005), and learners may create their own podcasts (see Rosell-Aguilar, 2007). In current work in L2 learning, there is a particular focus on successfully designing the structure and content of a podcast suite and integrating it effectively into the curriculum. Chan, Chen, and D opel (2008) described their use of podcasts in a beginnerlevel German language program. Key objectives were a fully integrated series of podcasts, practice and extension, curriculum review, increased opportunities for exposure to listening texts, and cultural content and further development of learning strategies. At an average length of 13 minutes, the typical structure and content of a podcast included a preview, musical interludes, listening and culture material, learning strategies, and metainformation such as greetings, content overviews, summaries, and links between segments. It is the weighting and sequencing of subcomponents that is of special note in this study because this prole reects a mix of content with pedagogy within each podcast. The pedagogical component is aimed at learner motivation and engagement so that the podcast activity is not one in which the learner remains

775 passive and only has to listen to a passage. Chan et al. also indicated that this prole changes as learners progress through the semester: For example, there is a shift from a lighter to a lengthier and more demanding listening and speaking component. In addition, the learning strategies built into the pedagogical content of each podcast become more sophisticated as the learners gradually gain familiarity and condence with the approach. Also key is regular student feedback so that the design may be rened and improved. Speaking Of the language areas and skills, attending to the oral skill has perhaps attracted the most diverse range of CALL technologies and approaches. These include applications that enable the computer to mediate communication via voice, to transmit audio or video through audio and video conferencing, or to facilitate user participation and interaction via text chat, voice chat, audioblogs, or voiced bulletin boards. Learners may also send or post sound les using voiced emails or simply have a conversation via a VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol) such as Skype, which enables the computer to operate like a telephone. This program is normally free of charge and provides good sound quality as long as there is a high-speed Internet connection available to link the participants. Skype remains just a tool, however, and its value in language learning will depend on effective pedagogies to accompany it. An excellent example of its sustained use in task-based language learning, with a detailed discussion of strengths and weaknesses, is described by Mullen, Appel, and Shanklin (2009) in a 2-year, Skype-based tandem language learning project. Although text chat has value for writing, as discussed earlier, it is also employed to enhance oral production (Okuyama, 2005; Payne & Whitney, 2002). Payne and his colleagues have conducted a number of studies that demonstrate that real-time conversational exchange via text may indirectly develop L2 speaking ability (Payne & Ross, 2005). In this work, Levelts (1989) model of cognitive processing provides an important theoretical argument for bridging the gap, and explaining the relationship, between oral and written production (see also Payne & Whitney, 2002). Sykes (2005) elaborated this domain further, also with reference to Levelts model, in a research study measuring the effects of three types of synchronous discussionstext chat, oral chat, and face-to-face discussionin the context of pragmatic development.

776 Recent options for spoken interaction online involve various forms of audio interaction such as audioblogs and voice email. Hsu, Wang, and Comac (2008) used audioblogs to manage oral assignments, to interact with learners, and to evaluate performance outcomes (p. 181). Oral assignments were recorded through mobile phones, and the audioblog was used to submit and archive oral assignments. The pedagogical design of this study showed some similarities, noted by the authors, with that of Volle (2005), who required students to complete two types of voiced audio email assignments: a read-aloud passage and a grammar drill. The authors advocated these technologies because of their ease of use, their general functionality, and easy archiving of assignments for evaluation. Applications designed to enable learners to develop their oral skills at a distance are also prevalent now that broadband technologies enable real-time speech to be handled reliably. These include virtual learning environments (VLEs) that employ audio and video conferencing (Hampel & Hauck, 2004). One example is the Collaborative Cyber Community (3C), a combination of SCMC technologies that combine a shared interactive whiteboard and audio, video, and text chat for developing oral skills in Mandarin Chinese (Levy, Wang, & Chen, 2008). Typically, a lesson in progress can have a number of technologies in simultaneous use: For example, the tutor might be using the whiteboard while explaining a teaching point through audio/video while the students are listening and using text chat to communicate with one another about the lesson. This potential for simultaneous, multimodal interaction through parallel channels is an important area for future research. In addition, breakout rooms offer venues for further oral interaction in pairs or small groups. Finally, speech recognition and synthesis technologies are growing steadily in sophistication and usability, now involving talking dictionaries and talking texts, as well as being embedded in various kinds of ICALL systems. More recent examples include a dialogue system called Lets Chat for social conversations that employs recognition and textto-speech technologies (Stewart & File, 2007). Chiu, Liou, and Yeh (2007) described speech interactions enhanced by automatic speech recognition via a conversational environment called CandleTalk. In addition, software developments in speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis are leading to programs that employ chatterbots as conversational partners for language learners (Coniam, 2008; Handley & Hamel,

The Modern Language Journal 93 (2009) 2005). A chatterbot (or chatbot) is a type of computer program designed to simulate a conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods. Some chatbots interact only via text, whereas more ambitious chatbot interfaces utilise voice recognition and voice synthesis and an avatar a virtual, animated humanas a conversational participant. In seeking to establish the best computer conversationalist, Coniam systematically evaluated the language resources of ve chatterbots available on the Internet. Although signicant advances have been made recently with chatbots for conversation practice, Coniam concluded that reliable programs of this type are still some way off being a reality (p. 98). Culture Culture may be conveyed through receptive and productive means. Simply accessing an L2 Web site can expose learners to numerous aspects of the target culture, and much knowledge may be acquired through reading, listening, and observing. Here, authentic materials play an especially important role because they are designed by native speakers for native speakers and, therefore, provide real data for any exploration of the L2 culture. Learners may also engage with the L2 culture more productively, and there are many technologies that may be employed with this goal in mind. In broad terms, they include CMC and telecollaboration, intercultural exchanges, or keypal projects. More specically, they feature email, chat, discussion forums (e.g., BlackBoard), wikis, video conferencing, and Web-based projects of various kinds (Abrams, 2006; Furstenberg, Levet, English, & Maillet, 2001; Guth, Davies, & Helm, 2008). Many of the projects are theory-driven, taking their inspiration from Vygotsky, sociocultural theory, or the notion of intercultural competence (see Byram, 1997; Lomicka, 2006; Vygotsky, 1978). As well as enabling contact and interaction with native speakers, these learning environments for culture provide students with the opportunities to reect on both their own culture and the culture of the language they are learning, and the most successful projects develop into fully functioning online communities of practice (see Darhower, 2007). The vast majority of intercultural collaborative projects place special emphasis on the pedagogy or methodology. Although this should always be the case for all language areas and skills, perhaps it emerges with more urgency in cross-cultural exchanges because of the recognized possibilities of failed communication across cultures and the

Mike Levy risks to which learners and teachers may be exposed (see Belz, 2005; Gonglewski & DuBravac, 2006; ODowd & Ritter, 2006). Managing this risk requires a well-conceived pedagogy and careful selection of technologies to match purpose (see Levy, 2007). For example, in the well-known Cultura Project, the pedagogical approach is central and one of the guiding principles is that the conversations on the forums are always asynchronous to allow time for reection and analysis (Levet & Waryn, 2006). Specic technologies are chosen for the affordances they provide (see Darhower, 2007). Another example is the Interculture Wiki project hosted by the University of Padova, Italy. A wiki is essentially a collaborative Web space. In this case, the university hosts a series of telecollaboration projects for which students develop wiki pages that focus on different aspects of culture and intercultural competence (Guth, Davies, & Helm, 2008). Wiki technology provides for the easy creation and editing of pages by students collaboratively, and new tools such as fora or blogs can be added incrementally as the need arises (see also Murray & Hourigan, 2006). Drawbacks with wikis are somewhat similar to blogs (discussed earlier), in that there is a signicant load on the language teacher or moderator of the wiki to ensure ordered input, development, and feedback in ways that really benet individual language learners. Such roles as these for the language teacher in technology-mediated learning environments are often assumed, without reection on the associated increase in workload. This consideration is essential so that CALL activities are not merely a one-off novelty but are sustainable and become fully integrated into the curriculum over the long term. Opportunities to experience another culture are also available online in virtual worlds such as Active Worlds ( and Second Life ( Second Life is a richly articulated example of a virtual world, in which avatars that represent individual users can interact with one another in a wide variety of situations, including dedicated spaces for language learning (see Stevens, 2006). Another virtual world developed specically for language learning has been created by Julie Sykes (Sykes, 2009). She has developed a synthetic immersive environment (SIE) named Croquelandia ( for strategy development and practice in Spanish pragmatics (see also Belz, 2007; Sykes, Oskoz, & Thorne, 2008). Although these virtual worlds and learning environments do provide potentially valuable spaces

777 for rehearsal, they can be very time-consuming to learn and understand and, at a deeper level, as Sykes, Oskoz, and Thorne (2008) pointed out, there is the danger of learning the pragmatics of the space and not necessarily skills of the L2 itself (p. 539). Although one might argue there is some benet in using the L2 to engage successfully in the virtual world, for many students the advantage lies in being able to transfer the linguistic skills acquired in the virtual world to the real one. More research is needed to investigate this issue in a rigorous way. It is also appropriate to mention here multiplayer gaming, which uses the motivation of the game to engage the learner in the L2 culture. A good example is Zon (, an interactive multiplayer online role-playing game for learning Mandarin Chinese. DISCUSSION This review illustrates the range and number of technologies now being applied to the key areas and skills of language learning compared to the time when Garrett wrote her 1991 article. As the options multiply, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the diversity. The need to be able to select and to match tool to task with clarity and foresight is becoming even more demanding for all users. Increasingly, language teachers will need to know the difference between technologies in relation to their optimal use in language learning. There are already many informative discussions in the literature, such as those that compare the relative merits of text chat and voice chat (Jepson, 2005; Okuyama, 2005), a podcast and an audioblog (Hsu et al., 2008), or a blog and wiki (Murray & Hourigan, 2006). In parallel, learners will need to make informed choices concerning the technologies they use for language learning. In this new and evolving technologyrich environment, teacher education and learner training are paramount (Hubbard, 2004; Hubbard & Levy, 2006; Kassen, Lavine, Murphy-Judy, & Peters, 2007). What may be accomplished with any technological tool depends more on the users understanding and expertise than the inherent capabilities of the technology itself (Norman, 1998). In other words, it is the teachers or learners understanding of what a technology can accomplish that is critical in practice. A good example is provided in the word processing program Word. Although many understand its central role and function, for producing and manipulating text, fewer understand and use its numerous

778 component technologiessuch as Comment, Track Changes, Bookmark, and Hyperlinkand appreciate the ways in which these tools may be employed for language learning. That is why the article by Ho and Savignon (2007), discussed earlier, on the use of Track Changes in the context of computer-mediated peer review for collaborative writing is helpful. There are similar examples with other applications, such as knowing how to make optimal use of the play speed settings in Media Player, knowing how to use the language tools in Google, or knowing how to make optimal use of annotation tools when reading a text on the Internet (Hubbard, 2004; Loucky, 2006; Robin, 2007, respectively). It is not then necessarily a question of learning a new technology but learning an old technology more comprehensively or learning to apply existing techniques and strategies in new contexts. That knowledge and understanding is required at different levels also impacts the requirements for normalization, the stage when the technology becomes invisible, embedded in everyday practice and hence normalized (Bax, 2003, p. 23). Education and training is needed if the potential of the technology . . . for integration is to be realized (Garrett, 1991, p. 95). Again, there are important implications for language learners. In one example, in a detailed examination of two students, Conole (2008) found over 30 distinct technologies in use for study and contact with friends and family. Email, MSN, Word, BlackBoard and the phone performed central roles; then progressively a wide range of technologies was used with decreasing frequency as the purpose became more specic (e.g., an online dictionary, concordance software). Conole noted that students appear to place greater value on technologies they have discovered or selected for themselves. Ownership, personalisation and appropriation of technologies are overarching themes that emerge from the data (p. 136). In almost all instances, each technology had been ascribed a fairly distinctive role by the user; in other words, by using each technology regularly, the individual had reached a personal understanding of that specic technologys purpose and function. This understanding was not achieved through received information or training from others but via a personal understanding acquired gradually through repeated use. This approach is advantageous in some respects but problematic in others. Although it gives the individual a high level of control over the technologies in use, it does not necessarily ensure that each technology is being used efciently

The Modern Language Journal 93 (2009) or to best effect, especially in an educational setting. Although adept with the generic technologies used in the wider world, Conole (2008) emphasized that students did encounter problems in an educational setting, especially with the more specialized technologies in use for language learning. This is a critical point with three important implications. First, widespread acceptance and use of new communication technologies in the world at large does not necessarily point to effectiveness or value in the educational domain. Effective transfer depends, to a large degree, on the affordances of the particular technology and the ways its strengths and limitations may be coordinated and managed as a pedagogical tool. Affordances here are taken to mean the opportunities and constraints provided by a technology in a specic context for L2 learning (Gibson, 1979; Levy, 2006). Second, when learning technologies are introduced to students, learner training is essential because the default position of users is different from that of learners . This applies most especially in terms of goals, outcomes, and levels of commitment. Third, when technologies that students already use for social purposes are introduced for learning, language educators will need to be sensitive to existing priorities of use and potential disconnects between individual expectations and educational goals for L2 learning. This is evident in the work of Murray, Hourigan, and Jeanneau (2008), in which they consider reorienting social media usage from leisure activities to educational purposes. Kennedy and Levy (2008) had similar experiences with the introduction of the mobile phone for learning Italian, noting considerable variation from one participant in the project to the next in terms of acceptance and preferences. In the introduction to this article, we also made note of Garretts (1991) observation that language teachers lacked a major voice in the selection of new technologies for language learning. In many settings, such an observation is still accurate, especially with regard to an institutions choice over its Learning Management System (LMS) (e.g., BlackBoard, Moodle) . Although these systems offer a suite of software tools that facilitate a range of learning management functions and learning activities, typically there is minimal consultation with language teaching faculty. Moreover, there appears to be little appreciation of the differing subject needs across the disciplines. In a detailed critique, Naidu (2006) identied LMSs as lacking the tools and capability to engage learners and teachers in the development of complex cognitive and social skills (p. 45).

Mike Levy Although the LMS can perform basic functions and although customization is certainly possible, much specialized programming work would be required to enable a typical LMS to perform many of the functions described in this article. Additionally, although the LMS may be perceived as a technological solution to the institution-wide challenge of technology integration across the campus, this solution will be considered unsatisfactory if it does not meet the pedagogical aspirations of faculty and local needs, such as those required in L2 teaching and learning.


CONCLUSION Perhaps Garretts (1991) most important and relevant observation for technology in language learning today was made clear in her title that the technology is there to serve language learning, not vice versa. This sentiment was repeated at a recent CALL conference, when Kohn said we need to guard against the caravan effect, a metaphor in which the travellers (technology enthusiasts) stop for a while to drink from the waterhole (the latest technology) until they have had their ll; then they move on to the next waterhole to drink again (Kohn & Hoffstaedter, 2008). Garretts article was important because it provided a thoughtprovoking and carefully argued examination of the technologies in use at that time. This involved a careful reection on pedagogy and a close analysis of existing, well-established technologies as well as those on the horizon. We need to continue to reect on pedagogy in technology-mediated language learning environments and assess the extended use and value of older technologies, as well as those that are state of the art, which can remain highly relevant for language learning. This is one major reason why CALL exists as a group with specialist interests with dedicated journals and conferences. Another is that computers, unlike the book or video, are multipurpose, multifunctional technologies that involve layers of complexity and application in L2 learning that are unique among the technologies of the modern world. Although they still pose an ongoing and substantial challenge for language teachers and specialists in CALL, what we are now able to say with condence is that much larger numbers of committed professionals are dedicated to addressing these issues. The need for teacher education and learner training in the area is increasingly becoming regarded as essential. Although much remains to be done, much also has been achieved since the time Garrett wrote her article almost 20 years ago.

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