CALL in the L2 Classroom: Possibilities and Limitations

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Charles C. Combs


The number of possibilities that computers and computer-assisted technology have opened up for second language (L2) learners over the years is intriguing. However, one must bear in mind that even though computer-assisted language learning (CALL) does create situations for computer-mediated interaction, can it really replace face-to-face interaction or just be an alternative resource? In larger numbers, with shrinking budgets, many universities are formulating online options for students in which one professor lectures to thousands of students online, and graduate assistants grade their assignments. While such an approach may be suitable for some content areas such as an Introduction to Psychology course, I think it could have different effects (though perhaps limited ones) in an L2 classroom, simply because face-to-face interaction is so vital. So in relating CALL to the existing body of interaction research in SLA, one question stands out: Will CALL provide the same opportunities for learners as face-to-face interaction?

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