ICT in ELT: The Future of CALL

In the forum we are now discussing the use of ICT in ELT. One of the readings we did was especially interesting. The article written by Stephen Bax examines the history of CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and makes some important statements about where we are now in the use of technology in the field of language teaching. According to Bax, there are three approaches in the use of CALL. The first one he terms restricted. The restricted use of CALL entails closed drills and quizzes with predetermined answers to work on grammar or vocabulary. In the restricted mode interaction between students is minimum. The next approach is called open. In this one, we will find simulations, games, and CMC (Computer Mediated Communication). The third approach is integrated CALL. This one is characterized by frequent interaction with others and some interaction with the computer.  

The author explains that he does not name these three uses of CALL as historical periods because they are still present. Although a genuine communicative use of CALL is possible nowadays, some teachers, school administrators do not have an open attitude towards its implementation. Besides that, much of the software being produced is still of the restricted type. Concerning where we are now, Bax argues that we are in an open phase of CALL with each institution still exhibiting some restricted and integrated features.  

Bax says that true integration of CALL is still a long way to be achieved. To illustrate his point he introduces the idea of normalization. This has to do with the diffusion of innovation. Technological innovations are normalized when we do not recognize them as technologies any longer. An example is the watch which is so integrated/normalized into our lives that we take it for granted. Normalization of CALL will happen when teachers and students use it as they use a pen or a book. Better yet, CALL will be normalized when it is treated as secondary to learn.  




3 thoughts on “ICT in ELT: The Future of CALL

  1. chrislima90 says:

    Dear Jose

    I’ve also read Stephen Bax’s paper, which Julian Kindlky sent to me, and I agree that we still have a long way to go to get to an integrated CALL, but I also think that the situation is a bit more complex.

    I believe that what we have in some institutions is a sort of hybrid situation where, in terms of position in the lesson and physical position of computer, we would be classified as integrated; however, in terms of type of task, type of student activity and teacher’s role we are still in the restricted/open phase.

    It seems to me that the most important thing – what to do with this tech – hasn’t changed much yet.


  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for posting. As you said the situation is really complex. Many of the institutions I have worked in or have seen are not what I would call integrated in their use of ICT. There is once in while some integrated use of technology. Most often is just the occasional trip to the lab for practicing. However, some forum participants have a good grasp of this technology and are using it in a very creative and integrated manner. Those are the ones we can learn from.

    One thing that this forum has made me see in the necessity of getting ICT skills to integrate this techology into my teaching. From what I could see there are lots of things out ther that I don´t know and need to learn how to use and put into practice in class. Besides that, there ate the ones I know but haven´t found a good way to use them in an integrated fashion. As teachers it is vital that we find time to get updated, once our students are already conversant with technology that we don´t even know exists.

  3. julian says:

    Jose & Chris
    One thing that struck me reading all the posts in the seminar forum was just how little institutions are prepared to invest in ICT traing for their teaching staff and that in the vast majority of cases it was left up to the individual to self-train.
    This is reflected in your comments Jose & the norm I suppose

    Just a thought…


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