The Impact of Computer Assissted Language Learning in Language Teaching

headIn the last few decades, computer technology has made tremendous progress in the world of communication to benefit people. One of the benefits of computer has been used to help the teachers and the students in teaching learning process.

Many teachers  has used Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) to facilitate their teaching activities, although many  schools still makes limited use of computers because of some reasons.

Using CALL has advantages and disadvantages, and many user points the fingers at several reasons . The development of CALL brought about a revolution in the teachers’ perspective, as the teaching tools offered through CALL were gradually becoming more reliable. Nowadays, CALL is gaining immense popularity in foreign language teaching and more and more educators and learners are supporting it. However, applying CALL in teaching  also has some weaknesses. This paper discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using CALL in Language teaching.

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Computers Assisted Language Learning (CALL) means Computer  Assisted Learning which is implemented to language. In this point, the utilization of the computer is primarily directed to make provisions to a language learning tutorial program (Hartoyo,2008).  CALL has also been known by several other terms such as technology-enhanced language learning (TELL), computer-assisted language instruction (CALI) and computer-aided language learning but the field is the same.

Lee (2000,55) states,

CALL originates from CAI (Computer-Accelerated Instruction), a term that was first viewed as an aid for teachers. The philosophy of CALL puts a strong emphasis on student-centered lessons that allow the learners to learn on their own using structured and/or unstructured interactive lessons. These lessons carry two important features: bidirectional (interactive) learning and individualized learning. CALL is not a method. It is a tool that helps teachers to facilitate language learning process. CALL can be used to reinforce what has been learned in the classrooms. It can also be used as remedial to help learners with limited language proficiency.

CALL is the acronym for Computer Assisted Language Learning and it is related to the use of computers for language teaching and learning. The acronym was first taken from CAL Computer Assisted Learning which refers to the learning involving the utilization of the computer, usually by means of an interactive-computer system. Students and the computer can interact each other, and free to choose any topic or become a solution to their problems. CALL is a learning material derived from CAL which is implemented to language. The utilization of the computer is primarily directed to make provisions to language learning tutorial program. By using CALL students will be able to relate their learning behavior to the “source” of information about the target language and provide opportunities to engage in interaction issues regarding the change of methods of language teaching.

Advantages of CALL

The use of CALL accounts for some advantages both for the user (students) and the designer (teacher). There are some advantages  of using CALL, as far as reading habits are concern, CALL encourages the students to develop a non sequential reading habit, which it is hoped will carry over to reading tasks with traditional printed material. (Ansel, et all, 1992). It allows users to make their own decisions to develop a selective and critical reading habits  which enables them to scan a large amount of information topic of their interest.

Moreover, CALL offers freedom for users to choose any topic of information available within package. The table of contents denotes all topics available which can be selected by simply clicking on the box labelled for particular topic. (Hartoyo, 2008). Rose (1992) states that Since the CALL tutorial package can also be used in pairs, it spurs the user ( students) to be able to collaborate very usefully in problem solving which in itself is considered to be a good skill acquire, as it can be implemented in a wide range of different contexts.

In elaborating the advantages of CALL, Hartoyo (2008) illustrate that CALL’s flexibility of time allows the students to determine what particular topics and how long he wants to learn. Hence the students who miss the class because of some reasons, for instance illness, still have opportunity to learn the particular topics taught in the classroom as far as the topic is available in the CALL program. Furthermore, CALL provides an individual interactive learning program, so both the ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ learners can take benefit from it.

Research and practice suggest that, appropriately implemented, network-based technology can contribute significantly to: Experiential Learning, motivation, Enhance Student Achievement, authentic Materials for study, greater interaction, Individualization, Independence from the source of information, and global understanding.

In relation with experiential learning, for example, The World Wide Web makes it possible for students to tackle a huge amount of human experience. In such a way, they can learn by doing things themselves. They become the creators not just the receivers of knowledge. As the way information is presented is not linear, users develop thinking skills and choose what to explore.

Computers are most popular among students either because they are associated with fun and games or because they are considered to be fashionable. Student motivation is therefore increased, especially whenever a variety of activities are offered, which make them feel more independent.

Network-based instruction can help pupils strengthen their linguistic skills by positively affecting their learning attitude and by helping them build self-instruction strategies and promote their self-confidence.

By using CALL All students can use various resources of authentic reading materials either at school or from their home. Those materials can be accessed 24 hours a day at a relatively low cost.

Random access to Web pages breaks the linear flow of instruction. By sending E-mail and joining newsgroups, EFL students can communicate with people they have never met. They can also interact with their own classmates. Furthermore, some Internet activities give students positive and negative feedback by automatically correcting their on-line exercises.

Moreover, in applying CALL shy or inhibited students can be greatly benefited by individualized, student-centered collaborative learning. High fliers can also realize their full potential without preventing their peers from working at their own pace.

Although students can still use their books, they are given the chance to escape from canned knowledge and discover thousands of information sources. As a result, their education fulfils the need for interdisciplinary learning in a multicultural world.

A foreign language is studied in a cultural context. In a world where the use of the Internet becomes more and more widespread, an English Language teacher’s duty is to facilitate students’ access to the web and make them feel citizens of a global classroom, practicing communication on a global level.

Disadvantages of CALL

Besides advantages, CALL also has some advantages, the disadvantages of using Computer-assisted Language Learning classifies  in the following common categories (a) financial problems, (b) availability of computer hardware and software, (c) technical and theoretical knowledge, and (d) acceptance of the technology.

Compare with “traditional” books, the ‘electronic’ book-the CALL program- is considered to be much less handy. It is much different from traditional books that are small enough to be carried around and studied wherever and whenever students wish, on a train, at home, in the middle of night or in dentist’s waiting room.(Ansel,et al,1992). More over, at the present time most students do not posses their own computers at home. Hence, they usually can only used computers available in their schools in which the opening hours are very restricted.

In general, reading a text, especially the long ones, on the screen is slower, more difficult and tiring. Gould and Grischowsky (1984) have shown that people read 20-30 % slower from low resolution screens. It may, sometimes , account for eye irritation and pain. Therefore, those who are concerned with the design and programming of CALL should take into account the use of high resolution screen and should refer to the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulation (e.g. in the U.K: The Health and Safety (DSE) Regulation 1992).

Viewing from financial point, CAL is costly enough for the programmer or teacher, let alone for students. A lot of funds have to be provided to purchase equipment, design programs, and for maintainance. They include the cost of hardware, software, maintenance (particular of the most advanced equipment), and extend to some staff development. Froke (1994b) said, “concerning the money, the challenge was unique because of the nature of the technology.” Existing universities policies and procedures for budgeting and accounting were well advanced for classroom instruction. The costs of media were accounted for in the university as a part of the cost of instruction. Though the initial investment in hardware is high, inhibiting institutions’ introduction of advance technologies; but Hooper (1995) recommends that the cost of computers will be so low that they will be available in most schools and homes in the future.

Lewis et al. (1994) indicate three conditions under which Computer-assisted Learning and other technologies can be cost-effectiveness: Computer-assisted Learning costs the same as conventional instruction but ends up with producing higher achievement in the same amount of instructional time, it results in students achieving the same level but in less time. These authors indicate that in examples where costs of using technologies in education are calculated, they are usually understand because the value of factors, such as faculty time and cost of equipment utilization, is ignored (McClelland, 1996).

Herschbach (1994) argues firmly that new technologies are add-on expenses and will not, in many cases, lower the cost of providing educational services. He stated that that the new technologies probably will not replace the teachers, but will supplement their efforts, as has been the pattern with other technologies. The technologies will not decrease educational costs or increase teacher productivity as currently used. Low usage causes the cost barrier. Computers, interactive instruction TV, and other devices are used very few hours of the day, week, or month. Either the number of learners or the amount of time learners apply the technology must be increased substantially to approach the concept of cost-effectiveness. There are other more quick and less expensive ways of reducing costs, no matter how inexpensive the technology being used (Kincaid, McEachron, & McKinney,1994.

The second problems of using CALL is the availability of Computer Hardware and Software. Availability of high quality software is the most pressing challenge in applying the new technologies in education (Herschbach, 1994; Miller, 1997; Office of Technology Assessment, 1995; Noreburg & Lundblad, 1997). Underlying this problem is a lack of knowledge of what elements in software will promote different kinds of learning. There are few educators skilled in designing it because software development is costly and time-consuming (McClelland, 1996).

McClelland (1996) indicated having sufficient hardware in locations where learners have access to it problematic and is, of course, partly a financial problem. Computer hardware and software compatibility goes on to be a significant problem. Choosing hardware is difficult because of the many choices of systems to be used in delivering education, the delivery of equipment, and the rapid changes in technology.

The third problem using CALL is a lack of technical and theoretical knowledge in using of Computer-assisted Language Learning technology. Not only is there a shortage of knowledge about developing software to promote learning, as shown above, but many instructors do not understand how to use the new technologies. Furthermore, little is known about integrating these new means of learning into an overall plan. In the communication between McClelland and C. Dede (1995), Dede indicated the more powerful technologies, such as artificial intelligence in computers, might promote learning of higher-order cognitive skills that are difficult to access with today’s evaluation procedures and, therefore, the resulting pedagogical gains may be under-valued. Improper use of technologies can affect both the teacher and learner negatively (Office of Technical Assessment, 1995).

CONCLUSION

Computer technology  has come into expansion era, it is widely  used for language teaching In Indonesia. The most well- known term used to facilitate Language teaching is CALL.  CALL is the acronym for Computer Assisted Language Learning and it is related to the use of computers for language teaching and learning. The acronym was first taken from CAL Computer Assisted Learning which refers to the learning involving the utilization of the computer, usually by means of an interactive-computer system. The advantages for using Computer-assisted Language Learning include: (a) experiential learning, (b) motivation, (c) enhance student achievement, (d) authentic materials for study, (e) greater interaction, (f) individualization, (g) independence from a single source of information, and (h) global understanding. The disadvantages  inhibiting the practice of Computer-assisted Language Learning can be classified in the following common categories: (a) financial barriers, (b) availability of computer hardware and software, (c) technical and theoretical knowledge, and (d) acceptance of the technology.

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