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CALL - short for Computer-assisted language learning is a form of computer-based learning focused on improving individualized learning as it is a student-centered accelerated learning tool intended to facilitate the language learning process.
The origin of the word CALL comes from the abbreviation CAI (Computer-Accelerated Instruction) and is a term viewed as an aid for teachers. Some describe CALL as an approach to teaching and learning foreign languages via the computer and different computer-based resources such as the Internet. However CALL is neither designed nor intended to replace face-to-face language education but rather to improve the self-study one. The Computer-assisted language learning can very well be used to supplement the group education. Since as early as the 1960s computers have helped language education. Early in the days CALL developed into a symbiotic relationship between the development of technology and pedagogy.The development of CALL can be divided into three stages: Behavioristic CALL, Communicative CALL and Integrative CALL.
The first phase of CALL was based on the then-dominant behaviorist theories of learning. Programs of this phase entailed repetitive language drills and can be referred to as "drill and practice". In "drill and practice" the computer serves as a vehicle for delivering instructional materials to the student.
The second phase of CALL was based on the communicative approach to teaching which became widely used during the 1970s and 80s. This approach felt that the programs of the previous decade did not allow enough communication and could not be of much value. The communicative CALL avoids telling students they are wrong and is flexible to a variety of student responses and uses the target language exclusively and creates an environment in which using the target language feels natural.
The third phase of CALL, the Integrative CALL, tries to integrate the teaching of language skills into tasks or projects to provide direction and coherence. It coincides with the development of multimedia technology. CALL in this period is used for extending education beyond the classroom and reorganizing instruction.
The design of modern CALL lessons generally takes into consideration principles of language pedagogy derived from learning theories. Recent researches in CALL are in favour of a learner-centered explorative approach where students are encouraged to try different possible solutions to a problem.
CALL and computational linguistics are separate but interdependent fields of study. The purpose of computational linguistics is to teach computers to generate grammatically correct sentences using natural and fluent English.
Since the computers have become so widespread in schools and homes and they have become such valuable part of people s everyday life that it obliged pedagogy to develop in new ways to exploit the computer's benefits and to work around its limitations. A vast number of pedagogical approaches have been developed in the computer age including the communicative and integrative approaches. Others include constructivism, whole language theory and sociocultural theory. Using the constructivism theory students are urged to construct new knowledge based on experience so they can incorporate new ideas in their already-established schema of knowledge. Whole language theory insists that in stead of language learning focus changes from the whole to the part and rather than building sub-skills like grammar students should focus on higher abilities such as reading comprehension the way to learn to use language is the opposite.The sociocultural theory states that learning is a process of becoming part of a desired community and learning through communities rules of behavior. Although all approaches are different in general they all take the focus of learning off the teachers and state that students learning experiences has more to do with fluency over accuracy in order to allow students to cooperate, rather than compete.
In spite of changing the role of the teachers in the educational system CALL does not eliminate the need for a teacher altogether. In stead of being the center of students attention, teachers now become guides as they help the students complete the assigned tasks rather than just educating them. Limiting the teachers presence has been shown to lead to better quality of communication such as more fluidity and more sharing of students personal selves. On the other hand, the students rather than passively absorbing information now they must assimilate new information through interaction and collaboration with each other. This should raise their self-esteem and help their knowledge to improve language learners four skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. Most CALL programmes are geared toward these receptive and productive skills because of the current state of technological advances. And those programmes have helped for the development of speaking abilities a lot. Using chat has been shown to help students routinize certain often-used expressions to promote the development of speaking skills.
The use of technology inside or outside the classroom tends to make the class more interesting. However, certain design issues affect just how interesting the particular tool creates motivation. Some ways to motivate the students is to personalize information, to have animated objects on the screen or to provide a context that is not directly language-oriented. One benefit of increased motivation is that students tend to spend more time on tasks when on the computer. Without computers, students cannot really influence the progression of the class content but computers can adapt to the student. This usually means that the student controls the pace of the learning and that students can make choices in what and how to learn. With real communication acts, rather than teacher-contrived ones, students feel empowered and less afraid to contact others. Students believe they learn faster and better and learn more about culture with computer-mediated communication.
The impact of CALL in foreign language education has been modest. The limitations of the technology, due to the problem with cost have been problematic. Computer technology has improved greatly in the last three decades and demands placed on CALL have grown even more so. However, most of the problems that appear in the literature on CALL have more to do with teacher expectations and apprehensions about what computers can do for the language learner and teacher. The most crucial factor that can lead to the failure of CALL, or the use of any technology in language education is not the failure of the technology, but rather the failure to invest adequately in teacher training and the lack of imagination to take advantage of the technology's flexibility. As active tool creating positive motivation in language teaching and learning CALL is rooted in visualization as founding principle in methodology. Verbal and visual are the two faces of the same coin.