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Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) | ITTT | TEFL Blog

A computer has led to greater strides in education, allowing students and teachers opportunities to use multiple learning tools in ways that were unimaginable some years ago. A computer has gained a well-defined function in English teaching and learning. Computers have enhanced drill on basic skills such as decoding, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and so on.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Florence C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

The Spread of Computer Education

The usage of computers in English language teaching and learning started as early as the 1950s. Computers have programs specially designed for teaching and learning called Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and Computer Assisted Learning (CAL). A program Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) was specially designed for the teaching of languages such as English. A computer has assumed the role of a teacher, tester, tool, data source, and communication facilitator. CAI and CAL went through phases of perfection which have culminated in the contemporary phase of multimedia.

It is unarguably true that computers in teaching and learning of languages have positive and beneficial effects.

A computer can now stand as a teacher by using multimedia CD ROMS. Students can now listen to dialogues or watch video clips. The system can keep a record of pupils' progress, for example, vocabulary learned and offer remedial help if necessary.

Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) is a program of instructional material presented using computer or computer systems and most often refers to drill and practice, tutorial or simulation activities offered either by teachers themselves or as supplements to traditional teacher-directed instruction. CAI can be online or offline, self- learning technique was pupils can interact with others. It also monitors the learning that takes place.CAI uses texts, graphics, sound, and video in enhancing the learning process.

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Computer Assisted Learning consists of a range of computer-based packages that aim to provide interactive instruction usually in a specific subject area. These packages range from sophisticated and expensive commercial packages to applications developed by projects in other educational institutions or national initiatives to simple packages developed by individuals to tackle a local program.


Computer Assisted Language Learning is the search for and study of applications of the computer in language learning. It has a pupil-centered approach that allows learners to work on their own. Such materials are structured or unstructured but they embody interactive learning and individualized learning. CALL helps teachers to facilitate the language learning process. It can be used to reinforce what was already learned in class or as a remedial tool.

students using computer

CAL and CAI add an element of fun to learning

A computer can be a tester since it is good at drill and practice. It tirelessly presents the learner with questions and announces if the answer is right or wrong.

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Ways to Utilize Computers in Class

A computer has become a popular writing tool in classA computer has significantly improved the writing process by allowing students to produce multiple drafts of the same piece of work. Students with messy handwriting and poor spelling skills can produce a piece of writing largely free of spelling mistakes.

Presenting Tool

Presentations of lessons using software like PowerPoint and animation can be done using a computer. Computers facilitate this audiovisual presentation of information makes learning interactive and interesting.

Computers are data sources

The internet is a provider of information. The World Wide Web has a vast amount of information. Students and teachers find it easier to refer to the internet than searching for information in fat books(Smith 1999). The Internet has large and easier to access storehouses of information. The Internet allows one to search literally everything. Teachers and students benefit from the internet.

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A computer can be a communication facilitator

Students and teachers can communicate with others at a distance through emails and discussion forums. Discussion forums are motivating for students and allow them to participate in language tasks that are beneficial to them.

Innovations have grown hand in hand with the growth of the English language and changed ways in which we learn.CAI and CAL provide a practical environment with interactive assistance. Computers are best for drills, students learn faster, retention is better and it is a more effective way of teaching slow learners (Bezen 2010).

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Generally, the perception of students and teachers towards computers is positive. Although most schools have computer laboratories, the laboratories are not equipped with proper instruments such as microphone headsets which are essential in language learning laboratories(Bint 2012). In some cases, the software for CAI and CAL is not available. This makes it impossible to teach some aspects of language to the whole class. Some teachers though have a negative perception towards computer usage due to conservatism on their part and fear of the unknown.

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