ERIC Identifier: ED355835
Publication Date: 1993-04-00
Author: Higgins, Chris
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Current Programs and
Projects. ERIC Digest.
For many years, foreign language teachers have used the computer to provide
supplemental exercises. In recent years, advances in computer technology have
motivated teachers to reassess the computer and consider it a valuable part of
daily foreign language learning. Innovative software programs, authoring
capabilities, compact disk technology, and elaborate computer networks are
providing teachers with new methods of incorporating culture, grammar, and real
language use in the classroom while students gain access to audio, visual, and
textual information about the language and the culture of its speakers.
COMPUTER-BASED FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS
For many years,
basic drill-and-practice software programs dominated the market in
computer-assisted language learning (CALL). These programs focused on vocabulary
or discrete grammar points. A vast array of drill-and-practice programs are
still available; in addition, however, an increasing number of innovative and
interactive programs is being developed. Simulation programs, while reinforcing
grammar points, present students with real-life situations in which they learn
about the culture of a country and the protocol for various situations. For
example, the "Ticket" series by Bluelion Software and "Recuerdos de Madrid" from
D.C. Heath are simulations that provide country-specific situations in a
task-based format. "PC Globe" and encyclopedia-type programs are information
programs that allow students to conduct research in the target language. Games
such as the foreign language versions of "Where in the World Is Carmen
Sandiego?" by Broderbund Software or "Trivial Pursuit" from Gessler publishers
provide an entertaining environment for students to learn culture and the target
language through problem-solving and competition. Writing assistants, like
"Salsa" and "Systeme-D" (Davis, 1992; Garrett, 1991) aid students in writing
compositions in the target language by providing help in grammar, style, and
verb conjugation and use (Willetts, in press).
CUSTOMIZING, TEMPLATE, AND AUTHORING PROGRAMS
flexibility for teachers using CALL is in the area of authoring programs.
Teachers can use these programs to create simple or elaborate software programs
using their own materials. In this way, teachers are able to design the program
to fit their own lesson plans (Garrett, 1991; Willetts, in press). Authoring
programs range from simple template programs to more complicated authoring
languages. Template programs, such as "Choicemaster" and "Storyboard" from
Eurocentres Software, provide teachers with the basic structure for a program
into which they put their own exercises. "Dasher" by Conduit Software, and
"Calis, "developed at Duke University, provide more flexibility in creating
exercises that allow teachers to work with screen design and different types of
programs. Teachers have the most flexibility in program development and design
in authoring systems such as "Toolbook," by Asymetrix (Davis, 1992), and
"Hypercard," packaged with each Macintosh computer (Garrett, 1991), which allow
multimedia capabilities as well as less complicated authoring possibilities.
In addition to their individual programs,
computers linked together in networks are expanding the way we teach and learn
foreign languages. Local area networks (LAN) are computers linked together by
cables in a classroom, lab, or building. They offer teachers a novel approach
for creating new activities for students that provide more time and experience
with the target language. Certain LAN setups allow students and teachers to
correspond with each other via computer or to conduct collaborative writing
activities in the target language. For example, LAN set-ups like the ENFI system
at Gallaudet University provide an interactive mode of learning. Exercises on
such a system enable students and teachers to communicate back and forth.
Students can also engage in cooperative writing exercises, conversations in the
target language, and problem-solving exercises. Teachers can observe students'
activities and progress and make comments to individual students from a teacher
station similar to that found in an audio lab (Peyton & Batson, 1986).
Expanding the unique capabilities of the LAN, long distance networks--or
computers linked together across long distances--facilitates communication with
students throughout the United States and abroad. Computers can communicate
across thousands of miles via modems and phone lines using telecommunications
software. Communication abroad allows for direct interaction with native
speakers. For example, "Minitel," a French commercial network service available
in the United States, allows students to correspond in French with native
speakers in France (Krause, 1989).
COMPACT DISK TECHNOLOGY
Compact disk technology has many
uses in foreign language education, including information retrieval, interactive
audio, and interactive multimedia programs. The compact disk - read only memory
(CD-ROM) allows huge amounts of information to be stored on one disk with quick
access to the information. Publishers have put complete encyclopedias, which
could fill more than a dozen floppy disks, on one compact disk (CD). Students
and teachers can access information quickly and efficiently for use in and out
of the classroom. In recent years, many foreign language computer programs have
been put on compact disks, eliminating the need for many floppy disks.
A new dimension has been added to many of these programs; digitized sound.
Compact disks that use digitized sound offer quick random access to information
as well as superior sound quality (Garrett, 1991). The Hyperglot company has put
its programs on a CD that they call "Lingua ROM." This software has a program
disk and various language disks that contain the digitized speech. With such
programs, students are able to hear the pronunciation of a phrase, a word, or
even a syllable or sound and then record their own voice following the example.
The students can then listen to the original recording, as well as their own,
and compare the two. They can record their own voices again and compare the two
until they feel their pronunciation has improved or is correct. While digitized
sound is far superior to tape recorded sound, the space needed to store
digitized sound is relatively large. However, continuing advances in CD-ROM
technology will alleviate the space limitations (Garrett, 1991).
The most recent advance in CD technology is the development of the CD-I
(compact disk - interactive). This technology includes digitized sound,
compressed video, animation, and possibly text to create a multimedia platform
for interactive programs. While this technology is still developing, the
Phillips corporation has recently made the CD-I available on the commercial
market. Because Sega Genesis has already put CD-I on the home video game market,
the advent of CD-I educational technology has begun.
Technology has the potential to play a major
role in foreign language learning and instruction. However, the development of
this potential is in the early stages. Issues on which the realization of this
potential depend include "the shift from thinking of technology as assisting
instruction to thinking of it as supporting learning; the problems attending the
evaluation of technology's efficacy; the prerequisites to genuine
individualization of software; and the advantages and disadvantages of
pedagogically shaped as contrasted with authentic materials and of learner
control over the learning environment" (Garrett, 1991, p.95).
Davis, R. C. (1992, March). Multimedia support
for studies in foreign language and culture. "IBM Higher Education: Supplement
to T.H.E. Journal," 36-37.
Garrett, N. (1991). Technology in the service of language learning: Trends
and issues. "Modern Language Journal," 75, 74-101.
Krause, J. (1989). "Telecommunications in foreign language education: A
resource list. ERIC Digest." Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and
Peyton, J.K., & Batson, T. (1986). Computer networking: Making
connections between speech and writing. "ERIC/CLL News Bulletin, 10(1), 1-6.
Willetts, K. (in press). "Integrating technology into the foreign language
curriculum: A teacher training manual." Washington: Center for Applied
PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS CITED
Humanities Computing Facility, Duke University, 104
Bldg., Duke University, Durham, NC 27706
MBA, PO Box 7, Wetherby, Yorkshire LS23 7EP, England
Software, University of Iowa at Oakdale, Iowa City, IA
University, HMB E230, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 651-5494
Materials for Foreign Language Learning
Software, 505 Forest Hills Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37919, (800) 726-5087;
Software, 505 Forest Hills Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37919,
Orton, Computer Unit, Harrogate College of Arts & Technology,
North Yorkshire HG2 8 QT, England, (01144) 0423-879466
South McClintock, Tempe, AZ, (602) 968-7194
Heath, 2700 North Richardt Avenue, POB 19309, Indianapolis,
46219, (800) 334-3284
Associates Inc., P.O. Box 252, Ithaca, NY 14851, (607) 387-9688
MBA, PO Box 7, Wetherby, Yorkshire LS23 7EP, England
& Heinle, 20 Park Avenue, Boston, MA 02116, (800) 237-0053
to Paris, Ticket to Spain
Lion Software, 90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, MA 02140, (800) 333-0199
Corp., Educational Programs, P.O. Box 40419, Belleview,
98004-1419, (800) 624-8999 ext. 299A
Pursuit (in French, German, and Spanish)
55 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011, (800) 456-5825
in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Software, POB 12947, San Rafael, CA 94913-2947, (800) 521-6263