Volume 20 Number 3

Commentary: Does CALL Have an English Problem?
Shannon Sauro, Malmö University

This paper asks whether computer-assisted language learning (CALL) has an English problem. It surveys the empirical studies published in four English language international CALL journals during the 4-year period (2012–2015) to see whether there was an upward trend in the overall number and proportion of studies investigating English as a target language. For 2012 and 2013, the proportion of English to studies of other languages was roughly equal. But published studies on English in 2014 and 2015 showed a noticeable increase. It then explores three cases in which an overemphasis on English fails to capture the cognitive and social issues around the use of technology for learning and teaching other languages. These include, for instance, the cognitive complexity of typing in character-based languages relative to typing in alphabetic languages, the culturally situated nature of feedback made available to learners using writing software, and teachers of languages other than English questioning the relevance of CALL for their local context. CALL journals both represent and shape the field, and when the vast majority of studies published in prominent international CALL journals explore primarily English as the target language, it may suggest that computer-assisted language learning is becoming synonymous with computer-assisted English learning.

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