Iowa State University
Department of English


TESL/Applied Linguistics: Conference on Technology for Second Language Learning

The role of CALL in hybrid and online language courses

Day 1 | Day 2


Abstracts, Day 1


Language Learner Perceptions of Wimba Voice Board: L2 Oral Proficiency, Motivation, and L2 Selves

Jesse Gleason and Ruslan Suvorov
Iowa State University

The present study, conducted at a large research university in the United States, addresses the perceptions of international teaching assistants regarding the role of Wimba Voice Board (WVB) in motivating them to improve their L2 oral communication skills. It specifically examines how this asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) technology can foster the development of these learners’ L2 selves. With increased planning of oral production and access to instructor and peer feedback, asynchronous CMC technologies have been found to enable L2 learners to express their thoughts at their own pace and feel more relaxed and confident than in more threatening face-to-face situations (Sun, 2009). The findings of this study suggest that learners have a variety of perceptions regarding the efficacy of WVB for the development of their L2 oral proficiency. WVB was also found to have a facilitative effect on students' perceptions of their future L2 selves, which, according to Dörnyei (2009), may have a positive impact on learners' motivation to improve their L2 skills.

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Online learner training to develop university-level ESL students' strategic competence in noticing, referencing and applying grammatical collocation in sentence-correction tasks

Jim Ranalli
Iowa State University

The syntactic patterning of words in English frequently helps determine their meaning, and thus knowledge of grammatical collocation is an important component of effective usage. Some L2 students of English, however, appear to lack such knowledge to the degree that they do not recognize it as a feature of vocabulary and, moreover, display dramatic levels of incompetence in performing and self-evaluating tasks involving strategic applications of grammatical collocation. This paper reports on a pilot project to evaluate an online course which, through the use of multimedia tutorials and practice activities, trains ESL students to notice the grammatical patterns of words, reference them in an online learner's dictionary, and apply them in sentence-correction tasks. Ten international students enrolled in a university-level ESL writing course worked through the training materials over a five-week period, during which data was collected from pre- and post-tests, web-based questionnaires, screen-capture footage, stimulated recalls and interviews. The online training was found to be effective at improving learner’s abilities with the cognitive and metacognitive strategies in question, though gaps persisted in their conceptual understanding of grammatical collocation. The implications for this particular instructional-development project, as well as for learner training in general and instructed L2 vocabulary acquisition, will be discussed.

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Developing Blended Learning Materials based on CALL Theory and Research

Dr. Susanne Rott
University of Illinois at Chicago

There is a national trend to create blended foreign language programs. Blended programs integrate computer-based learning units to either compliment  (25-74%) or enhance a face-to-face classroom instruction (Blake, 2009; Singh, 2003). Publisher produced online workbooks (e.g, Quia) which provide fill-in the blank exercises and automated feedback are used in many programs, yet there are only few examples of blended learning units that allow communicative language use. This presentation will provide an overview of guiding principles that were used to develop blended learning units for the German basic language program at XXX. We will demonstrate how multimedia theory (Mayer, 1997) guided the development of pre-class assignments to prepare students for more effective language use during class time and interaction theory (e.g., Gass & Mackey, 2006) for follow-up activities to provide students more opportunities to practice written and oral interaction in German. SoftChalk was used to create interactive vocabulary activities reflecting receptive and productive stages. All units include multiple modalities to enhance learning and retention: visual (picture), written (text), and audio (pronunciation).Voice and written blog activities were designed to distinguish between speech acts and free speech. These units provide a collaborative space where students are encouraged to interact with each other while responding to meaningful prompts. Overall advantages of the discussed components are 1) better accessibility and flexibility for undergraduate students with diverging interests; 2) more individualized feedback (instructor/peer); and 3) additional practice (speech acts, vocabulary, writing, listening) with motivating target language materials, which ensure learning effectiveness in all four skills in an interactive learning environment.

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An exploratory Study of Text Messaging among Some University Students in El-Dakhla oasis – Egypt

Dr. Safe Zanquoor
Assiut University, Egypt

In situating text-messaging in the broader context of computer-mediated communication (CMC), much the same need arise for establishing the interplay between what the technology itself affords and what the communication brings to the technology.

With this in mind, the major theme of this paper tries to examine the use of SMS (i.e short-messaging service) among a sample of 100 university students living in El-Dakhla oasis, Egypt. It also attempts to investigate the linguistic forms and communicative functions of SMS among the interactants of those participants’ actual text-messages. Moreover, this study aims at getting some information about: who uses SMS, how often, for what purposes, and in what language(s)? Lastly, this study will try to get an answer to the sociological question: Does new mobile communication technology bring about more human alienation (e.g. aggravating the phenomenon of mobile privatization as espoused by Raymond Williams? or does it bring about more human connectivity? or in other words, what is the impact of using SMS of the sociality practice of the subjects of this study? The analysis of the major findings of this study revealed that SMS functions as a communicative strategy for facilitating communication among the recipients of this study. Moreover, the major findings chart the emergence of new linguistic varieties such as the overwhelmingly use the form of Romanized Arabic and English in writing SMS among the subjects of this study.

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Task-based approach in a hybrid environment: bridging content and language production

Adolfo Carrillo Cabello and Dr. Cristina Pardo-Ballester
Iowa State University

Nunan (2004) has pointed out the need to integrate authentic texts in the language curriculum that is based on the task-based approach.  According to Nunan, the inclusion of authentic texts strengthens the links (connections) between the learning situation in the classroom with the outside world.  Even though the use of authentic texts is something that has been attempted in language courses, the connection to the outside world appears to be limited to situations in which the content of the text relates more to texts in the humanities given that this is the area of focus in the foreign language curriculum.  However, in a hybrid environment in which students are presented with opportunities to interact with texts from content areas such as business and engineering, the connection to the outside world not only allows for the opportunity to provide input to students related to content areas of their professional interest, but it also facilitates the development of pedagogical tasks (Long 2000) that aim to assist L2 learners in the production of target forms and communicative skills similar to those encountered in their professions.  Furthermore, the type of tasks developed for content areas may assist students to transition to their professional roles and to cope with the communicative demands of their careers.  This presentation will provide an overview of the ways in which authentic texts are used to integrate pedagogical tasks that allow students to take on different roles as professionals in two content areas, business and engineering, and will explain how these tasks help students focus on their linguistic production.

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Internet accessible, computerized training of ESL learners to perceive spoken English

Dr. James D. Miller and Dr. Charles S. Watson (yet to confirm)
Indiana University

Internet accessible, computerized training of ESL learners to perceive the sounds and words of spoken English Dr. James D. Miller and Dr. Charles S. Watson Indiana University Perception of the sounds and words of English is a significant problem for ESL learners that can be efficiently reduced through the use of CALL. The Speech Perception Assessment and Training System for ESL (SPATS-ESL) (see references at <>), can be used in hybrid courses or as an extracurricular adjunct to ESL programs. This system adapts to each student’s specific perceptual problems and provides intensive practice on their deficient perceptual skills. Since each student’s password-protected files are kept on an internet accessible server, the student can use any computer with internet access and thus training is not restricted to a particular location, computer, or language laboratory. This same feature incidentally provides a significant research database on the perception of English speech sounds and words by ESL learners. SPATS-ESL has been used with ESL learners enrolled in an Intensive English Program. The system tests and trains the perception of the 109 most important syllable constituents (onsets, nuclei, & codas) of spoken English and also the ability to identify words in naturally, spoken everyday sentences presented in multi-talker babble. A default curriculum evolved as the system has been used by ESL learners and is constantly being improved to improve its ease of use, to enhance feedback, and to maintain student interest. Training results indicate that near-native perceptual skills can be achieved with 15-35 hours of practice. The potential of perceptual training for increasing the benefits of classroom ESL instruction and of the learning of English through immersion will be discussed.

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