Monday, October 13, 2014

Entry 12 IDT1415 Reflections on Chapelle's Technology and Second Language Acquisition & Levy's Technologies in Use for Second Language Learning

It seems to be that Chapelle's article is clearly an exhortation to the implementation of technology in SLA research and finishes her abstract by saying: '...therefore technology needs to be considered'. She provides evidence of studies done and what their results are to support her advocacy for the importance of technology in assisting and improving SLA research. She mentioned how CASLR tasks have demonstrated to be valid sources of data and how CALL also offers 'some conditions of interests for SLA' (p.99). Chapelle reports Doughty's concerns with the desperate (my emphasis) need for instructional designers to be able to make informed decisions when choosing software for classroom use. Some of the key concepts and ideas addressed here have also been addressed by Blake (2008), Mitchell (2009) and were also present in Warschauer (2001) namely: negotiation of meaning, interaction, noticing forms and also gaps in linguistic knowledge, making connections between form and meaning, social interaction, modified input, negotiation of form via CMC, and natural language processing (NLP) amongst a few others. She concludes that the way to in which learners can benefit from pedagogically sound CALL methodology lies in the success with which research will identify such principles. I believe though that the SAMR and TPACK models are a good place to start especially for those language teachers who do not have the background, training or immediate time to become fully acquainted with research results.

On the other hand, Levy's (2009) article provides a survey of a series of technologies already in use and their affordances in relation to specific language areas in second language learning which appears to be more 'teacher' friendly while still being academic thanks to his modular approach e.g. focusing on language and skills individually. He mentiones how ICALL developments have brought about concordances, text alignment, speech recognitions and the like which have had a big impact on the types of feedback available. Hot Potatoes, WordChamp,  LexTutor, ubiquitous mobile phones and audio files show the focus of CALL on vocabulary and grammar and a FonF approach. One of the recurrent ideas across the article and regardless of the focus is that of learner (and teacher) training in the use of such technologies and how some 'old' ones are underused e.g. Word's change tracking feature which is useful for collaborative work, and feedback with special attention on how it is delivered and when. In my current context, this learner and teacher training is an integral part of school life as we have 30min pop-in sessions every week on tech training and 1.5hr sessions once every three weeks. We used HotPotatoes a couple of years ago but feedback from teachers was mainly that it was rather time consuming at the time.  LexTutor on the other hand was seen as a positive addition especially for intermediate and above levels.

Levy highlights the benefits of multimodal interaction offered by VLEs e.g. breakout rooms amongst many others, the possibility of augmented interaction via chatterbots and avatars (Active Worlds and Second Life) which enhance exposure to L2 culture through CMC, telecollaboration, and VLEs such as BlackBoard and wikis.  All of these clearly linked to Vygostky's sociocultural theory while underlining the importance of methodology in cultural contexts because it is evident that more attention is given to it in order to avoid communication breakdowns between different cultures.  Levy concludes that 'teacher's or learner's understanding of what a technology can accomplish is critical in practice' (p777) and also quotes Bax (2003:23) who says that once technology is invisible to the user then it is 'normalised' as becomes part of the environment. However, the question that seems to become apparent is: How do you make it invisible? Levy's final words once again point at how technology does not necessarily mean more effective learning, that learner training is essential, and that 'technology is there to serve language learning not vice versa' (p779). I believe these added to practice using these technologies lead to this invisibility as a strategy is the conscious application of a technique while a skill is the unconscious application of said technique (Oxford 2011). In short, the goal is then skillful application of technology thus making it invisible.


Blake, R. J. (2008) Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Teaching. Georgetown, University Press. Online at [accessed: October 4, 2014]

Mitchell, I. 2009. The Potential of the internet as a Language Learning Tool. In: Education and Digital technology: Foreign Language Learning with Digital Technology.  Continuum International Publishing. Online at [accessed: October 10, 2014]

Oxford, R. L. 2011. Teaching and Researching Language Learning Strategies. Applied Linguistics in Action Series. Eds. C.N. Candlin and D.R. Hall. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Warschauer, M. (2001) Interaction, Negotiation, and Computer-mediated Learning. Online at [accessed: October 8, 2014]

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