Represented in all levels of education, English Language Learners (ELLs) have a variety needs, apart from simply learning the curriculum. In addition to learning grade level content, ELLs must also learn a second language: English. As the population of ELLs increases, so does the diversity associated with this student group. Learning styles, preferences, and prior education experiences all contribute to ELLs unique cultural identity.
Considering this expansive diversity, ESL teachers need to build their arsenal of English-teaching strategies. One such addition to an ESL teacher’s repertoire should be CALL, or computer-assisted language learning. As with any approach, there are advantages and disadvantages. Understanding both can help an ESL teacher make an educated decision as to whether CALL will work for their individual group of students.
Benefits to using a CALL approach
With the diverse range of English Language Learners, a major benefit to computer-assisted language learning is that it can be narrowed to a specific skill or task based on students’ needs or interests (Kumaresan, 2012). Another advantage to incorporating CALL is its flexibility and accessibility. Students can continue their learning outside the traditional classroom setting by logging on to the internet, which can be done at home, in a neighborhood library, or at a local coffee house. Computer-assisted language learning also provides a level of entertainment by marrying oral and written language with visual cues.
Drawbacks to using a CALL approach
As with most anything, there are drawbacks to computer-assisted language learning. One such demerit is computer illiteracy. If ESL students do not possess a basic level of computer literacy, the CALL approach might prove detrimental to their development of the English language. Another disadvantage of CALL would be the lack of face-to-face time. Receiving support and direction from an instructor or peers is a vital aspect of language learning. An ESL program devoid of authentic opportunities for interacting with others could be viewed as unfavorable.
To make learning English meaningful, teachers must find ways to connect the lesson or skill to the student. Whether through authentic, face-to-face learning or via a CALL approach depends on each learning situation. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a computer-assisted language learning program will help teachers make the best choice for their students.
Kumaresan, K., Balamurugan, K., & Thirunavukkarasu, S. (2012). COMPUTER ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING. International Journal of Management Research and Reviews, 2(12), 2083-2086. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1415607171?accountid=458