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Computers in

Communicative Language
P. Gruba
Aim of this week
I am teaching this introductory subject through a
series of metaphors, and this week we examine
the role of the computer/Internet in the
Communicative Era.
In essence, each week we examine how the role
of the three main ‘actors’ in the CALL system
may relate to each other.
So, what role did the computer occupy in age of
Communicative Language Teaching and

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Brainstorm: Hallmarks of
Communicative Language
Let’s take a few minute to discuss amongst ourselves
key principles of the ‘Communicative’ era.

Online? Face to Face?

Here’s some background reading:

Galloway, A. (1993). “Communicative Language Teaching: An

Introduction And Sample Activities”

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Okay, uh, what did you find?

• Key hallmarks:
– 1

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Quick summary of CLT
Unlike the ALM, its primary focus is on helping
learners create meaning rather than helping
them develop perfectly grammatical structures
or acquire native-like pronunciation. This means
that successfully learning a foreign language is
assessed in terms of how well learners have
developed their communicative competence,
which can loosely be defined as their ability to
apply knowledge of both formal and
sociolinguistic aspects of a language with
adequate proficiency to communicate.

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CLT summary
CLT is usually characterized as a broad approach to teaching,
rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined set of
classroom practices. As such, it is most often defined as a list of
general principles or features. One of the most recognized of
these lists is David Nunan’s (1991) five features of CLT:

1. An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction

in the target language.
2. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.
3. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on
language but also on the Learning Management process.
4. An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as
important contributing elements to classroom learning.
5. An attempt to link classroom language learning with language
activities outside the classroom.

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Reading One (Osuna & Meskill,
1) Why do you think the teaching of culture is a hallmark
of the communicative era of second language learning?

2) Why the concern with 'authenticity' in this era?

3) Do you think the Web -- in 1998! -- was able to

connect students with 'authentic culture'? Do you think
that the Web can do this today, in 2007? Why or why

4) The researcher/teachers designed their own tasks. Is

this, in and of itself, authentic? Why or why not?

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More questions …
5) Is it possible to 'assess cultural learning' as the authors set out to do

6) Critically evaluate the activity the students were directed to do. In what
ways, specifically, does it teach them about Spanish culture?

7) The sample size here is 13 elementary learners of Spanish at the

undergraduate level. Do you think a quantitative approach to data
gathering and analysis is the best choice? Does the use of descriptive
statistics convince you of the efficacy of the activity?

8) Evaluate the conclusion: "The results of this small pilot demonstrate

that the Internet is an excellent tool for teaching foreign language and

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Reading Two
(Kramsch & Andersen, 1999)
1) Once again, the authors stress the need for authenticity
in second language learning, but warn that multimedia
texts require special 'reading' skills. Why?

2) A computers, the authors note, " ... offers the possibility

of developing the sociocultural competence of language
learners more readily than the pages of a textbook or the
four walls of a classroom." Do you agree with this
statement? Why or why not? (Is 'more readily' a
necessary need in language learning?)

3) Critically assess the statement: "What the printing press

did to the evanescent spoken word, multimedia
technology does to words and images."

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And more questions …
4) Explain this: "To understand a text is not to rejoin the
intentionalities, attitudes, and beliefs of the author or actors
involved. Rather, it is an argumentative process that enables
viewers to grasp the world opened up by the actions as they
are represented in visual/electronic form."

5) How does this assertion align with the communicative era:

"The computer with its unlimited capacity, rather than
challenging our analytic and interpretive responsibilities,
seduces us into believing that the truth is just around the
corner of the next 'text' that will fill the ultimate gap in our

6) And, finally, do you think the computer helped to hasten or

prolong the exit of the communicative era in second language
teaching and learning?

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• Can you think of (and or find) any
examples of CLT in CALL?
• What would an ideal CALL application for
CLT look like? What would some of its
features be?
• Would CLT CALL work in your
educational setting? Why or why not?

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Now, let’s have some
• Blogs
• Wikis
• Online discussion

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