CALL in the L2 Classroom: Possibilities and Limitations

Combs, Charles C.

The number of possibilities that computers and computer-assisted technology have opened up for second language (L2) learners over the years is intriguing. However, one must bear in mind that even though computer-assisted language learning (CALL) does create situations for computer- mediated interaction, can it really replace face-to-face interaction or just be an alternative resource? In larger numbers, with shrinking budgets, many universities are formulating online options for students in which one professor lectures to thousands of students online, and graduate assistants grade their assignments. While such an approach may be suitable for some content areas such as an Introduction to Psychology course, I think it could have different effects (though perhaps limited ones) in an L2 classroom, simply because face-to-face interaction is so vital. To date, some SLA researchers have argued for the importance of interaction in the learners L2 development. In his Interaction Hypothesis, Long (1983) advocated a critical role for interaction. He asserted that learners will make conversational adjustments during face-to-face interaction, which will in turn facilitate L2 learning. Mackey, Gass, and McDonough (2000) further argue that “through interaction, some aspects of their attention may become focused on the parts of their language that deviate from target language norms” (p. 473). So in relating CALL to the existing body of interaction research in SLA, one question stands out: Will CALL provide the same opportunities for learners as face-to-face interaction?


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Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics

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Academic Units
Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Published Here
November 5, 2015