Using Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Multimedia as media to promote Second Language Acquisition
1. Language Learning and Multimedia
Language is proven to be essential regarding communication and the success of delivering the message to attain certain purposes in many different contexts, such as economics, politics, social, etc. Therefore, learning widely used and spoken language is inevitably important. The top 3 languages used worldwide are Chinese (mandarin), and followed by Spanish and English. 1 English, although it is positioned in number three, in some way, people always associate it with international language. This is mainly because English plays a very important role in world’s aspects since most of advanced countries in the world use English as their national and official language, therefore; communication is performed by using English in all aspects to promote good and mutual relationship among all countries.
There are at least two major impacts and results of this phenomenon; first, people all over the world nowadays recognize the importance of English as an international language. Secondly, all countries compel and require English to be involved in education field and schools and it should be taught at early ages as well. There are many varied ways applied and used to promote the success of using English for students particularly here in Indonesia, for instance, compiling and arranging syllabus with more language points to improve students’ achievement and language proficiency, adding more time for students to study English at schools, providing more trainings for English teachers, etc. However, none of the ways above gives more opportunities and chances for students to get exposed to the language they are learning. Even tough the government through National Education Department has provided some fund to be allocated to increase and promote English, for example, by providing Language Laboratory at schools and libraries with English books, all of these ways are considered not enough for students to acquire English as their second language.
Furthermore, students have their own learning strategies; one of the examples is using certain media such as such as comic books, games, songs, movies, etc., in order to make their learning environment more convenient and comfortable to be ready to study. Advanced technology and vast information have given a great influence to language learners as they get the exposures of the language they are learning unintentionally. This fact is in accordance with the Comprehensible Input by Stephen Krashen who stated that learning process occurs when the learner is ready and conditioned in a low-anxiety environment. He also claimed that language acquisition does not occur when learners focus on form, yet it only happens when they engage with the messages they are conveying and understanding. 2
This big invasion of technology have brought them to the position where they are now relatively familiar with certain gadgets or common technology devices and media, such as computer, i-pod, internet, chatting room and even with popular social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, etc. According to Lee, there are some reasons why language teachers should apply computer technology in second language learning process: 3
(a) It can help students practice through experimental learning
(b) Increases students’ motivation
(c) Enhances student achievement
(d) Increases authentic study materials
(e) Encourages greater interaction between teachers and students, students and peers
(f) Emphasizes individual needs
(g) Regards independence from a single source information
(h) Enlarges global understanding
As language teachers, we can help our students obtain as many exposures as they can with the help of technology, such as Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and multimedia. CALL or Computer Assisted Language Learning is a form of computer-based learning which carries two important features: bidirectional learning and individualized learning. 4 The term multimedia refers to an electronically delivered combination of media, including video, still images, audio, animation and text in such a way that can be accessed interactively. 5 By using CALL and multimedia, teachers can perform many language competences and skills, such as grammar, pronunciation, spelling, structures and even communication skills.
Here are some simple examples on how CALL and multimedia can help teachers through the learning process. When teaching pronunciation, teacher can use multimedia program in the computer and ask the students to use it and see the instruction. Then the model in the program will say something and it asks students to repeat what model says by recording their voice with microphone, and afterwards they can hear the comparing part so they can evaluate their pronunciation. When teaching grammar points, students can play some games and they will be told if they make mistakes and the way to correct their mistakes.
When teaching communication skills, there is a multimedia program that enables students to have a conversation with the model in the program. The programs are also supported with animation, sounds, high resolution video and attractive layout and appearance that make it more interesting for learners. Usually, there is a practice part at the beginning of the session to give some time for students to think about their responds if the model asks certain questions, and after they have practiced, their voice will be recorded when they give responds and at the end of the session the program will let students hear their responds with the correct responds and it also allows students to redo this part so students will feel more confident and learn certain expressions and intonation used in real life communication. Moreover, for students who are at younger age or lower level, we can use multimedia such as animation, video and music to enrich their vocabulary and improve their listening skill.
This technology use and multimedia are not a teaching method or theory; it is a tool that will enable teachers to help students get more exposure of the language and as a teaching aid to replace teachers when they are not in the classroom and to help learners to get the control of the learning process. 6
2. Strength and weaknesses in using CALL and Multimedia to foster Second Language Acquisition
- Flexibility and interactive
By using CALL and multimedia program, students are able to choose the right time for them to try the program at any convenient time. Furthermore, the interactive pictures, animation and video in the program will make students feel interested and avoid them from boredom. One of the main reasons why using CALL and multimedia is considered more effective is because these tools enable language learners to absorb the input set up in the multimedia program in the situation in which they are in a low-anxiety situation and feel relaxed, so they can process and internalize the materials given in the program by doing some interactive games, or even exercises.
- Practical and handy
Particularly for teachers, having and applying multimedia and CALL program in our classroom will help us in preparing teaching materials easily and also the tasks or exercise that will be given to our students. This mainly because of the content of the programs that mostly has been set up well, so teachers can use it any time they like. Moreover, most of CALL programs have instructions and certain “Help” button or icon to help learners and teachers as well understand the stages or the steps in carrying out the programs. As we all recall, back in the old days, we used to use flashcards and other teaching aids that are in fact not practical, for instance, we had to cut some printed pictures so we could use them to make flashcards and we had to bring certain media player or speaker when we wanted to focus on listening skill. Nevertheless, with the help of CALL and multimedia programs, we can combine all those things that we would like to do or teach in the classroom with a single program, in which learners or students will learn various language points and skills.
- Help students with different speed and pace of learning
In a common language classroom, most of the teachers find it difficult to balance varied speed of their students in doing tasks or comprehending certain materials. Some students are very fast, while the others need more time to complete a certain task before they can do another task. CALL and multimedia programs can solve this problem because the programs enable the learners or students to move to the next level or stages in the program depending on their speed in carrying out the program; therefore, teachers can benefit from this point of view.
- Increase students’ motivation
Dornyei identifies motivation as why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity and how hard they are going to pursue it. 7 And according to Sevtap, motivation plays a significant role in the process of learning a second language and language teachers cannot effectively teach a language if they do not understand the relationship between motivation and its effect on second language acquisition. 8 Therefore, By providing interactive activities, games and exercises and also interesting appearance with interactive animation, layout, sounds and even video, then the students will be more interested in the language the are learning and it will attract their attention. This then will also result in the increase of their motivation in learning English as their second language. With greater and high motivation, students or learners will grasp and comprehend the materials easily and will use their effort and time to know and find out more about the language they are learning.
- Costly and High maintenance
In order to operate CALL and multimedia programs at schools, it requires some important tools and facility, such as hardware (Personal Computers, speaker, headsets, mouse, and keyboards), software (CALL programs and software) and also the place which provides all the tools altogether, such as Language Laboratory at schools. Those equipments are clearly expensive; therefore, not all schools or other informal educational institution can afford to support and provide their educational environment with the equipments, particularly in villages or remote areas. Not to mention, the maintenance cost will not be cheap as well, because there are many things or parts which need regular and frequent check or update, such as the software and hardware of the computers.
- Time consuming for novice students
With the exposure and the flood of new technologies coming to developed countries, we expect that people are now getting accustomed with technology. Yet, we should not generalize that all people are well-informed with the latest technology and even able to operate, apply and make use of it. We should be grateful because we live in big cities so we get the exposure of the latest technology easily. But, what about people who live in remote areas and villages in which is awfully difficult to just get the electricity? It would be difficult for them to get used to it, and not mention that when we would like to apply CALL and multimedia program as a teaching tool in remote areas or villages, firstly, we have to introduce them to the general knowledge about technology and give them basic knowledge about computer and technology. In other words, even if we or the schools had the money to support and provide the schools with CALL facilities, we would have to teach them the basic knowledge until they are able to apply it and ready to use CALL and multimedia programs. And this then would be time consuming and lead to another obstacle in using CALL and multimedia programs to foster second language acquisition.
- http://wiki.answers.com, browsed on February 16, 2010 at 13:09.
- Stephen Krashen. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. 1982. New York: Prentice Hall.
- K.W. Lee. (2001). English teachers’ barriers to the use of computer assisted language learning. The internet TESL Journal. Retrieved June 25, 2006 from http://www.4english.cn/englishstudy/xz/thesis/barrir.
- Browsed from http://www.answers.com/topic/computer-assisted-language-learning, on February 4, 2010 at 15:54.
- Browsed from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia, on February 4, 2010 at 14:04.
- R. Joseph Ponniah. Getting exposure to input in multimedia language laboratory – a pleasurable learning experience. The internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, no. 2, February 2000. Browsed from http://www.languageinindia.com/march2009/multimediaponniah.html, on February 4, 2010 at 16:09.
- Dornyei. (2002, p.8) in Donna Moss and Lauren Ross-Feldman. Second Language Acquisition in adults: From research to practice, browsed in http://www.cal.org/Caela/esl_resources/digests/SLA.html, on December 12, 2009 at 13:03.
- Sevtap. The effect of motivation on second language learners, browsed in http://www.socyberty.com/Languages/Second-Language-Acquisition-Through-Motivation.77128, on December 21, 2009 at 12:21.
Entry filed under: Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Mid-term Test. Tags: Mid-term Test.