Computer-Aided Language Instruction

The relationship between computer technology and language is not new. It first appeared in popular culture in the 1960s with the communicators on Star Trek. Techno-linguists find the concept of a universal instant translator for any language into any other language to be an extremely appealing problem. Despite the significant progress made with online automatic translation services, we are still a long way from achieving that goal.

There is no concern that language classrooms will disappear in the near future. Students are enrolling in ESL and EFL classrooms in greater numbers than at any time in the past century. And technology is becoming a larger part of these classrooms than ever before. Computers and other related technologies have been an integral part of the daily lives of both students and teachers for some time now.

They have a level of familiarity and comfort with technology that people born, say, before 1980 do not. As the lives of language learners become increasingly computer-based, the importance of incorporating computers into language instruction grows. Not only do students anticipate it, but it’s also the preferred method of instruction for many (for better or worse).

The growing reliance on technology has resulted in a disturbing lack of familiarity and comfort with traditional information sources, such as books, libraries, and frightening interpersonal communication.

What then should language instructors do? Should computers be integrated into language classes and lessons? This will always depend on what you’re attempting to achieve and why. To ignore the significance of technology in language learning, in my opinion, would be a grave error.

I am aware of what I do in my classes. I use computers in my classes when I see an overall benefit, and I do not use them when I do not see an overall benefit. What will you do? That depends on your preferences and preferences alone.

For the time being, keep in mind that while CALL, or computer-assisted language learning, has advanced significantly over the past 15 years or so, the word “assisted” is, and should continue to be, central to the relationship between computers and language learning.

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