Saturday, November 1, 2014

Entry 22 IDT1415 Walker & White 2013 - From CALL to TELL

"We see a move from computer assisted language learning (CALL)  to technology enhanced language learning (TELL) [,,,]. One of the main differences between CALL and TELL is that we see technology not as assisting language learning, but as part of the environment in which language exists and is used" (Walker A, & G. White (2013:9)) Technology Enhanced Language Learning. Oxford Handbook for Language Teachers. OUP: Oxford.

Considering the tools and applications dealt with in this week's readings, how do the changes in the technologies reflect (or not) the move described in the statement above? You may want to suggest a development line.

I personally find the acronym TELL more realistic and reflective of today's technological advancement. Walker and White's (2013:9) statement is immediately supported by current examples of everyday life: smart phones, tablets, portable computers and mobile technology being more and more the norm and 'part of the environment in which language exists and is used'. In my introduction to my reflections on Beatty's (2010) 8 Applications I was surprised by how the applications described in that 4 year old article were already 'old' with mobile technology, DVDs and open web resources having replaced PDAs and CDROMs. Thinking of my own practice and experience desktop computers were the norm up until 2005 when I bought my first lap top. Mobile technology was confined to phones with very limited capacity and which mainly afforded telephony. Then and in a progressive succession mobile phones became smarter and tablets were introduced (iPad 1 in 2010) along with technology becoming faster, more powerful and lighter in weight but not in price! In parallel, technology in my ELT classroom setting experience has seen the following line: my first proper desktop computer 1992, IWBs, electronic visualisers and audio visual devices at summer school and university lecturing level in 2002 (10 years later), laptops for classroom use in 2005, more sophisticated IWBs in 2007 along with more clearly integrated use of web based resources and applications along with formal training (please note before was all personal experience as described in Kessler and Klapan (2008)), tablets both IOS and Android in 2010 and mobile phones in 2013. 

In terms of a move from CALL to TELL I would argue that CALL bears a more static implication confining it to a place as when it was defined computers were not yet mobile so they could be seen as a tutor (Blake 2008) assisting language learning typically in a language lab. I find TELL as a more appropriate and space liberating term as the technology available to us now is no longer anchored to a place to provide stability.  It is already stable enough to sail the seas of communication technological advancement has created and thus provides the possibility of ongoing connectivity outside the classroom walls. Technology enhanced language learning is about increased independence both from a place and a tutor as information is now at our finger tips and as such learning does not have to stop at the end of the language lesson. In my own context, the learning experience continues (is fostered and encouraged) outside the classroom when our teachers update the class blog after the lesson and add a task for students to complete before the following lesson. Learning is enhanced by the way the tablets are used in a QR code treasure hunt which leads the students in the discovery of the passive voice and their punctuation and spelling though the use of Wassup outside school with their English class group monitored by the teacher.

In short, TELL for me is synonymous with freedom of choice, environment, technology, content. From my own perspective it is TELL that has allowed me to become a better learner myself while providing me access to information I could only dream of before and without having to go to the library or buy the books myself. I love the simple fact that my curiosity can be satisfied at the reach of my hand and that I can instill this vision in my students to make them better and more independent learners. Technology is definitely TELLing me how to be a better prepared, more knowledgable and more TELLing professional.


Blake, Robert J.. Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Learning. Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2008. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 27 October 2014.

Beatty, K. 2010. Teaching and Researching Computer-Assisted Language Learning (2nd edition). Pearson Education Limited. Online at: [accessed: October 29, 2014]

Kessler, G. and Klapan, L. 2008. Does Teacher's Confidence with CALL equal Innovative and Integrated Use?, [online] Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21:3, 269-282, DOL:10.1080/09588220802090303 Online at: [accessed: October 29, 2014]

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