Sample Article Review On Reading Reflections
Reading Reflection: “CALL, Past, Present and Future” by Stephen Bax
“CALL, Past Present and Future” by Stephen Bax is a review of the history of CALL, Computer Assisted Language Learning. CALL has been used in learning language since the 1970’s. In this article, Bax reviews previous research and definitions of CALL and its use as well as raise issues for the future of computer assisted language learning and how it should be labeled and implemented.
There are three stages of CALL that have been developed and used over the years. The first was Structural CALL that employed a grammar, translation and audio-lingual paradigm. The second stage, Communicative CALL uses communicate language teaching and is a communicative exercise. The third stage most recently in use is Integrative CALL employs a socio-cognitive view of language and stresses authentic communication. The future of CALL as being a normal and likens the use of computers in language learning to the function of a pen or a wristwatch. The computer simply becomes a part of normal classroom learning.
The dissection and review of CALL and in the previous research was very subjective. The author divided research into empirical or objective research and subjective research that draws conclusions on the use of CALL and its contributions. The author takes issue with the “historical” phases of CALL that have been described by other authors. They are not clearly defined and the dates of use are not rigid, in fact some forms of the Structural (or Behavioral) and Communicative are still in use today. Rather than classifying CALL according to historical periods of use, it would be more effective to describe the paradigm in which it is being used.
The article cites that the evolution of the computer and the programs used in CALL have been positive in the learning and teaching of language. As computers and software became more modernized and advanced, the way they are employed in teaching language has advanced and conformed to more recent research in language learning. The first computers relied on drills, students completed the drill and were either right or wrong at the end of the activity. As they have evolved, students were able to speak into and listen to computers and computer programs. The computer performed the role of a tutor. Computers and software are very advanced today and computers need to take on the role of stimulus, which prompts the student to explore language. Learning language in a cultural context is one of the best ways to learn and computers need to reflect this. Students’ tasks are more encompassing and more complex than simple rote memorization of language. Activities now include reading, writing and communicating in a more natural manner. Technology needs to be available on a daily basis for meaningful acquisition and practice.
The future of CALL is utilizing computers that are a natural part of the learning environment. Many teachers were excited by technological advances in CALL but there was some fear of the unknown that comes with the new technology. Teachers are the professionals who can affect the most meaningful changes through qualitative research in their classes. Ironically, this article was published in 2003, and technology has undergone dramatic changes. Students can now learn language on their smartphones and tablets. These devices interact by listening and responding to the student and can be used anywhere at any time.
Reading Reflection: “Static and Dynamic Views of Culture and Intercultural Language Acquisition” by Anthony J. Liddicoat
Liddicoat describes that learning language now encompasses learning the culture in which it exists. Language cannot be truly understood or used unless the cultural context is also understood by the student. Language is a key component of culture in any given country or region. Every time we interact through language we are participating in a cultural activity. Liddicoat describes two types of culture that will shape the teaching of language: static culture and dynamic culture. Static culture can be defined as facts and concrete artifacts of a culture. An example would be a famous landmark such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Dynamic culture is the collection of practices used within a culture. These practices are fluid and social. Dynamic culture does not demand the memorization and recall of facts that static culture does, instead it requires interaction and participation in the culture. Subtleties exist in languages that are a part of dynamic culture.
Liddicoat’s article is informative and meaningful. Static culture consists of cultural knowledge that is concrete and unchanging. It involves knowledge that can be memorized and recalled later. This knowledge is not truly representative of language. Static language does not require engagement or meaningful social interaction. The author uses illustrations from a German language workbook that represent language in a static cultural sense. One exercise in German, asks the student to use an Atlas to locate and compare cities. The language is German and it is an exercise in following directions but it is not a meaningful interaction. In contrast, a more dynamic cultural exercise is shown in which responses in French to “How are you? (Ca va?)” might require in depth questioning and listening for a response. If the response is “Ca va mal. (It is going badly.)” an appropriate response and a continuation of questioning is the expected social response. This type of exercise is real and an example of a meaningful social context or norm interaction.
In Intercultural Language Teaching, meaningful language is acquired. By exposing students to the language environment and teaching about the culture in which a language exists, a greater understanding of the language will become evident. The three steps in this process are: learning the other culture and exploring it; comparing the culture to the student’s known own and finding the role of the speaker between the two. This view makes excellent sense and provides the motivation for learning a language so that it is relevant. Acquisition of language and culture coexist. When learning a new language in its cultural context, the learner at first will look to compare it to personal experiences in their culture. As they build on this knowledge the exploration of the new culture will become more comfortable and language acquisition will begin to grow exponentially.
Liddicoat presents an important and practical concept for the learning of language and culture. His writing is clear and the examples he employs are helpful. Teachers need to ensure that the culture they are integrating into their teaching program is dynamic and meaningful. In this context, student’s acquisition will be relevant and successful.
Bax, S. (2003). CALL-past, present and future. System 31, 3-28.
Liddicoat, A.J. (2002). Static and dynamic views of culture and intercultural language
acquisition.” Babel, 36(3), 4-12.
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