Language Learning & Technology
Vol. 1, No. 2, January 1998, pp. 20-22
REVIEW OF TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED LANGUAGE LEARNING
Michael D. Bush, Editor
Robert M. Terry, Associate Editor
Technology-Enhanced Language Learning
$16.90 ($13.73 for ACTFL members) (Paperback)
355 pp. plus index.
National Textbook Company
NTC Publishing Group
4255 West Touhy Avenue
Lincolnwood, IL 60646-1975
Reviewed by Margaret Hayford O'Leary, St. Olaf College
This book is a collection of nine essays discussing the role of multimedia and technology in the teaching of foreign language. In the introduction editor Michael D. Bush traces the shift in terminology in recent years from Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) to Technology-Enhanced Language Learning (TELL), reflecting the fact that computers have become less visible and obvious at the same time as they have become ubiquitous. Computers often drive other types of technology, such as audio, video, and the World Wide Web. The focus is now on the communication facilitated by the computer, rather than on the machine itself. Using some of the technology he advocates, Bush has made the introduction to this book available on the World Wide Web.
The stated purpose of this volume is to explore new and emerging technologies from the perspective of foreign language teachers and other language teaching professionals. The nine articles can be grouped roughly into the following categories: (a) past, present, and future visions of multi-media technology for language teaching; (b) general implementation of technology, including in the design of language learning centers and in teacher training and support; and (c) specific applications of technology in the teaching of speaking, listening, reading, writing and culture.
The first article, "Taking Control of Multimedia" by James P. Pusack and Sue K. Otto (pp. 1-46), provides a good introduction to the rest of the volume, offering concise definitions of terms one encounters in any discussion of technology, such as multimedia, hypertext, hypermedia. Pusack and Otto also provide a brief overview of the various types of hardware available. The authors point out that multimedia or technology use cannot be characterized as a method, but rather as a tool that can aid teachers in gaining control of and improving access to the many different types of media already in use. With newer interactive computer programs, technology makes it possible to simulate real-life situations and help
the learner achieve greater control of the learning process. This increased learner control changes the roles not only of the learner, but also of the teacher and of the textbook. They and other authors point out that little research has been done on the effectiveness of technology in language teaching and they call for greater cooperation between technology experts and language pedagogy researchers. The underlying thesis of the book seems to be, however, that we live in an electronic age, that technology is here to stay, and that it is important for educators to understand how technology can best be usedto improve the language learning experience.
"Learning Language and Culture with Internet Technologies" (pp. 215-262) an article by Peter A. Lafford and Barbara A. Lafford is the only one to actually make use of the technology being described. The reader is directed to the authors' web site which contains useful links illustrating the points of the article. The authors point out how the use of content-based instruction has been made more effective with the improved access to authentic materials found on the World Wide Web has made possible. They suggest specific activities at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for using various Web resources ranging from text-based to video. They also describe the use of chat rooms, MUDs and MOOs, which are all defined and explained in great detail.
Stengths of this volume include the excellent lists of references provided with each article, as well as a helpful index to the entire book. Also several of the articles contain specific illustrations of software currently available. Examples include extensive interactive programs for the teaching of French and Spanish, like "À la recontre de Philippe" and "No Recuerdo"; software adapted from other purposes, such as "Daedalus Interchange";used to allow students to carry on written, computer-mediated, slow-motion conversations with each other in real-time; and "Libra" or "Guided Reading," which enable a teacher to create his or her own courseware. Excellent information is provided throughout the volume on where and how newly-inspired teachers can obtain the software described.
Another very useful article is "Meeting the Technology Challenge: Introducing Teachers to Language-Learning Technology" (pp. 263-285) by Margaret Ann Kassen and Christopher J. Higgins. The authors name three key issues in teacher training:
- Establishing a comfort level with technology
- Integrating the technology into the curriculum
- Developing the critical skills to use technology effectively.
Stressing the need for pre- and in-service training for teachers, they describe two such workshops, including an online pre-service course, Computers in Education, offered by Arizona State University, which is required for K-12 certification, and an in-service training workshop created for teaching assistants at the Catholic University of America. The appendices contain an annotated list of foreign language technology resources and projects used in the training modules.
Successful introduction of technology in language education comes with a price, of course. Not only is the technology expensive, it is ineffective unless teachers
are trained and made comfortable with its use. It is significant that the use of the Internet at Arizona State University is bolstered by university-funded two-week workshops for foreign language faculty, offered for the past three years (described by Lafford and Lafford). This underscores the plea made by editor Michael Bush in the final article, where he calls for a commitment on the part of society to make this technology equally available to students of all economic levels not only for the learning of foreign languages, but for education in general.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Margaret Hayford O'Leary is Associate Professor of Norwegian at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. She is also president of the Norwegian Teachers Association of North America and is currently working on two interactive computer projects for the teaching of Norwegian.
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