English language learning and technology

Lectures on applied linguistics in the age of information and communication technology


Carol A. Chapelle

Published by

John Benjamins

Volume 7 in the Language Learning and Language Teaching series edited by Birgit Harley and Jan H. Hulstijn, this book is a synthesis of lectures given at conferences and universities around the turn of the century exploring implications of widespread changes in technologies as they intersect with second language teaching, second language assessment, language analysis and many aspects of language use.

Chapter 1

The changing world of L2 teaching

The first chapter suggests that it is worthwhile for applied linguists to engage consciously and proactively with the complexity of today's language-technology interface. It introduces the ways in which technology is changing the profession, specifically because of the changes in opportunities for language use offered to learners and new options for language teaching, assessment and research. I argue that these changes are worth pointing out explicitly because in many places of the English-speaking world, technology is becoming "invisible," and therefore the dramatic changes it offers for students, teachers, and the profession risk remaining under-explored.

Chapter 2

The potential of technology for language learning

This chapter discusses one of the most frequently asked questions about technology and language learning: How can computer-assisted language learning be informed by professional knowledge about second language acquisition and teaching? It outlines some principles that can fruitfully be applied to L2 software development and computer-based learning tasks, and illustrates how these can be put into practice.

Chapter 3

Evaluating language learning

This chapter reconsiders another pressing question that many people have about technology and language learning: How can its effectiveness be investigated? It explores the complexity of this seemingly straightforward question by 1) examining the meaning of effectiveness research for audiences such as teachers, administrators and publishers, 2) outlining controversies in the field concerning this issue, and 3) illustrating approaches that speak to the needs of teachers, software developers, and teacher education.

Chapter 4

Investigating learners' use of technology

Research on learners' use of technology suggests the need to better articulate the issues involved in the study of the processes such as learners' choices of Web pages, selection of help, and participation in online conversations. This chapter develops principles for conceptualizing such data by drawing on concepts and methods from other areas of applied linguistics such as classroom discourse analysis and language assessment.

Chapter 5

Advancing applied linguistics: L2 learning tasks

Chapter 5 begins to explore how the examination of L2 learners' technology use can amplify and expand the researchers' understanding of issues in applied linguistics. This idea hinges on the possibility that technology need not be used exclusively for solving practical problems, but that it can also be used for investigating theoretical ones. To illustrate this point, I consider the theoretical issues probed through the use of technology to develop communication tasks.

Chapter 6

Advancing applied linguistics: Assessment

This chapter continues the theme of the previous one but shifts to issues of language assessment. It suggests that computer-assisted language assessment should help researchers to identify and explore theoretical issues, but that doing so requires reaching beyond the terminal goal of more efficient tests. I argue that technology can help to offer unique perspectives on two central areas in language assessment, construct definition and validation.

Chapter 7

The imperative for applied linguistics and technology

This chapter highlights aspects of the theme developed throughout the book: That fruitful investigation of applied linguistics and technology requires teachers and researchers to step back from the obvious to reconsider the assumptions underlying popular, commonsense perspectives about technology and applied linguistics. It points out that popular discourse implies great strides in language-related technologies, but in view of the current knowledge, how such progress will occur is not evident. It argues that significant, focused work needs to be undertaken if sophisticated software for language learning and assessment is to become the new reality in the future. These issues at the intersection of applied linguistics and technology are important for the profession but unlikely to be probed, understood, and developed by those who study either applied linguistics or technology alone.

The chapters in this volume are based on the following:

Keynote presentations at conferences:

Lectures presented at Le Symposium sur L'enseignement-apprentissage de la L2 dans des Environnements Multimédias at the University of Ottawa, November 1998; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March, 2001; University of Ottawa, October 2001; l'Université Pierre Mendès France in Grenoble, March 2002; and Michigan State University, April, 2003.

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