Diversity in environments

Glenn Stockwell*, Nobue Tanaka-Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction The environments in which computers are used these days have changed dramatically compared with the early days of computer-assisted language learning (CALL), where learners were usually expected to complete stand-alone activities in a fixed computer room. These sometimes occurred under the supervision of a teacher, but they could also be undertaken in self-learning situations if required. Recent developments in technologies have meant that learners no longer need to be bound to the computer room, and CALL has undergone a major change in terms of location and time. This chapter looks at the range of CALL environments that have emerged with these new technologies, and divides these into four main categories; face-to-face environments, blended environments, distance environments, and virtual environments. This is followed by an example of a face-to-face environment, to show how even an environment that may be perceived as relatively simple at face value can involve a wide range of complexities. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the affordances of various environments can play a large role in the way in which language learning that occurs within them takes place, and some suggestions for what must be kept in mind when deciding how technology fits into a language teaching and learning environment. Overview and general issues The term “environment” when it comes to CALL is extremely broad, and it includes not only the technological artifacts, but also, among other things, the curriculum, the classroom (or lack thereof), the learners and teachers, and the skills and backgrounds that they bring with them. There are many reasons why varied environments come into being. In some cases, teachers may feel that their learners lack sufficient experience to work with technology completely without teacher intervention and, as a result, they opt to set up a face-to-face environment where they can play an active role in overseeing learner output and identify any technological difficulties that may arise. In other cases, the teacher may wish to keep a large proportion of the class online, but blend in technology to carry out certain aspects of a course which, due to time constraints or specific affordances of the technology, mean that the teacher does not need to be present. There are still other cases where students cannot be physically present in the language classroom, and need to take the course in a distance learning environment. Finally, with new developments in technology, it is becoming possible for students to interact with other students or with native speakers through virtual environments, where participants can be virtually present in a classroom or other situation, irrelevant of their physical location. This section will look at each of these environments, outlining some of the features specific to each.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer-Assisted Language Learning
Subtitle of host publicationDiversity in Research and Practice
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781139060981
ISBN (Print)9781107016347
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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