WCALBKfn99.doc - CALL-ing the learner into focus Towards a...

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CALL-ing the learner into focus: Towards a learner-centred model for CALL Debra Hoven University of Queensland Abstract With the extension of the presence of computers in learning environments to include computer- mediated communications (CMC), such as electronic mail or the Internet, we must now devise models for computer-enhanced pedagogy to encompass these new interlocutors (Chapelle, 1994). In devising such models, it is important that we keep in mind the theories and findings from mainstream second language pedagogy. The presence of new technology and new means of using it entail the development of new models. However, the introduction of multimedia and communication capabilities to computers in language learning does not necessarily imply that a whole new set of pedagogical models needs to be devised. Rather, we should look to findings in more ‘traditional’ areas such as classroom interaction, task and instructional design, self-directed learning, and the use of audio and video in language learning to ground our models of ‘good practice’ in the areas of multimedia and CMC in language learning. In the model and examples presented here, the framework for the allocation of control to learners is provided in software by structuring and presenting the available language learning resources in a manner that is easy for learners to navigate, while at the same time providing the information necessary for making informed decisions about their learning paths. Sociocultural pedagogy provides the framework and the rationale for incorporating learning styles and strategies into the conceptualisation of both task and instructional design. Keywords: learning styles, learning strategies, learner-centred instructional design, sociocultural pedagogy 1.0 Introduction Over the past several years, an increasing number of multimedia language learning software packages has been developed and marketed, while, to date, only preliminary attempts have been made to evaluate the effectiveness of such software in general, or of more specific features within the packages which may or may not contribute to improved learning (Brandl, 1995; Liou, 1995; Bradin, 1996; 1998). Simultaneously, the proliferation of mechanisms for computer-mediated communication has emphasised the notion of the computer as an interlocutor in the communication process. Many administrators, teachers, researchers and users of computers in language learning have asked questions about the effectiveness of computers in the language learning process (Pederson, 1987; Luff et al . 1990; Dunkel, 1987; 1991; Johnson, 1991; Chapelle, 1994). However, as Papert, (1987) and Chapelle (1994) have pointed out, it is not so 1
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much the computer but the kinds of tasks and activities that learners do on the computer that can make the difference. As Chapelle comments: CALL texts are produced in any language learning context where the computer takes an interactive role. Such contexts may be comprised of learners working individually with a computer, of learners working in pairs or larger groups with a computer or multiple connected computers, or of learners working with teachers or other experts. In each of these
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