GETTING BETTER

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Days passed and Monday came. Second Monday of March was the day of Wikis. The lesson included Wikipedia, PBWorks, and Google Documents. To start with Wikipedia we can say it likes an attendance sheet; the teacher gives it to the class, everyone writes on it, and then it goes back to the teacher. Finally the teacher decides who is there and who is absent. Wikipedia is like that: one or two administers take an account and open a title, then want their students or learner to write on this topic. Each user of Wiki has a chance to edit or save the documents. In addition to these facilities of Wiki, it is not a reliable source to find information about a topic. As it is used and changed by each user it may give us thoughts of the users not the truth about the topic. So, it can be a starting point to search something or to see what people are thinking on this topic.

Another kind of Wiki is PBWorks. There are plenty of attendees of this page. People open a new group and work on this group cooperatively. It is a useful application for classroom activities. It can be used in EFL classrooms to discuss on some topics related to the field, or to create a class project.

There are two important options on Wiki websites; edit and save. As I said before these options give the users chance to change content of the page. For example; a teacher opens a topic on one of these Wiki websites and adds his/her students to this page. The teacher asks the students to write what they know about this topic. Teacher will check their participation and evaluate them. When the students open the page, they see the option edit and they write their knowledge under the topic and they save what they write.

I used to afraid of the idea of using computer in classroom because of inefficient knowledge about data processing and computer technology. Today, I believe I will use them efficiently with the help of CALL course.

The last point of this lesson was Google Documents. Each Gmail user log in with their Gmail account to Google Documents. Google Documents stores one’s ppt, pdf, word, or excel files. As it happens in the other pages, two or more users can work one page of Google Documents. There is a difference from PBWorks; all attendees can work simultaneously on a page. In a PBWorks page, when one user works others cannot work; so, they have to wait till the first one complete his/her work.

Working at the same time and downloading files is another plus of Google Documents. If something goes wrong and one user delete the file, it can be reload because it was saved by the Google Documents.

To sum up this lesson I can say I am gaining important information in this class. I am looking forward Monday mornings to go the computer lab and take this lesson. And I am feeling  I am getting better for new classroom activities.

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LESSONS TAKEN FROM A LESSON

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This was the second week of this term and the second meeting with the instructor for CALL course. What we covered in this lesson were WordPress, RSS, Feedly, Twitter, and Twitterfall.

To publish our reflections, we had gotten a blog account before the lesson. We examined all parts of WordPress to use its applications more easily. First of all, dashboard is applied to establish our blog. There are plenty of options to set blog page’s appearance and content. For example, we can change our tagline to express our thoughts or anything that we desire to seen under our names. Tagline is our slogan. As the instructor said maximum 10 people can use a blog account as admin. That means I and my friends can get a mutual blog account to publish our experiences in a mutual medium when we become teachers. However, Blogger permits 100 people to manage one blog. The instructor gave some people’s names in the field of using these blogs actively and mutually. These people publish their classroom experiences in their blogs. They write their reflections of their lessons and share them with other people. One of these people’s name is important; Özge Karaoğlu. It is because she got a prize for her reflections on her blogs. The lesson that I took from this that I should follow ELT department teacher’s blogs to get new and experienced ideas to apply them in my class. Also, I can publish my own experience in my blog if I apply an original idea in my classroom.

As we continue to customize our WordPress blog page, we can change themes, appearance, etc. And we can add new links, media, posts, or we can edit our published posts. The most important part of it is publishing and editing posts. There is an option named Stats that shows us how often our blogs have been seen by others, and from which part of the world it has been seen. Therefore, WordPress serves us a good chance to publish our thoughts on an online medium and to be seen from all over the world. By the way, we can make the world hear our voice by the help of WordPress.

Another internet-based application that we had a glance at was RSS and its new version Feedly. Feedly is used to follow new uploads when we log in with our gmail account. We can add another blogs of friends, sites that upload their current content everyday such as BBC, Times, or other pages that are related to ELT department from all over the world. So, we can follow new posts of our friends and new development of our own field.

As all of us know, Twitter serves us a chance to follow important people. I learned a new thing that I hadn’t heard before the lesson. It was Twitterfall.  It seems a real fall. When we log in with our Twitter account and type current topic with # (keyword), all the tweets that were written with this keyword 3 kilometers around us fall in our screen.

As I expect, this course gives lots of chance us to improve our knowledge about internet and its uses in ELT classrooms. When I listen to the instructor ideas about using these applications in my class flash in my mind. And I know that at the end of this semester, I will have gained a remarkable amount of ideas to apply in my own field in the future.

 

COMPUTER ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING: AN INTRODUCTION

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By the widespread usage of technology and its supplements computer based technologies have started to be used in classrooms to teach language. The article supplies a brief overview of Computer-Assisted Language Learning. By the help of this article, the readers will gain a viewpoint about how computers can be used for language teaching and how it has been used throughout the history of technology.

THREE STAGES OF CALL

As the article mentions CALL is a recent development and there are three stages of it. From the perspective of the author the stages are behavioristic CALL, communicative CALL, and integrative CALL. According to the article, every new stage does not reject the old one, but the old stage proceeds within the new one.

Behavioristic CALL

It is the first stage of CALL. It was applied in the 1960s and 70s. Behavioristic CALL was based on behavioristic theories of learning. As the behaviorists stated, this stage of CALL required repetition of language drills. Thus, it can be referred to as “drill and practice” based on computer as tutor model. In the model of computer as tutor, computer supplies instructional materials to the students like an instructor. The basis of this model can be summarized in three articles:

  • repetition of the same material beneficial or even essential to learning
  • computer is an ideal instructor for repeated drills, as it is a machine that does not get bored to repeat the same material and provides non-judgmental feedback
  • a computer serves materials in an individualized basis, allows students to proceed at their own paces

In the late 1970s and early 80s, behavioristic CALL was weakened by two important factors. First, from both theoretical and pedagogical perspective, behavioristic approaches to language learning had been rejected. Secondly, the introduction of the microcomputer showed new range of possibilities rather behavioristic drills.

Communicative CALL

Since the drill and practice of the previous decade had not supplied enough authentic communication to language learners, the second stage of CALL named as communicative CALL became prominent in the 1970s and 80s.

There are some characteristics of communicative CALL as John Underwood proposed in his series of “Premises for ‘Communicative’ CALL” (Underwood 1984:52). Communicative CALL:

  • focuses on using form
  • teaches grammar implicitly
  • allows and encourage students to create their original utterances
  • avoids telling students they are wrong
  • creates a natural target language environment

During the stage of communicative CALL, various types of CALL programs were developed and used. The first type of these programs provides skill practice such as paced reading, text reconstruction, and language games. In these programs, as mentioned in behavioristic CALL stage, computer stayed the knower-of-the-right-answer but the process of finding the right answer involves student choice, control, and interaction. These kinds of programs are extension of the computer as tutor model.

The second model of communicative CALL is computer as stimulus used for communicative activities. In this model, the goal of CALL activity is not to find the right answer but rather to stimulate students’ critical thinking, discussion, or writing. Software used for this model is not specifically designed for language learners; the programs are authentic in this case.

The third model is computer as tool. In this model, any language learning material has been designed specifically; the learners have been encouraged to use and understand the language.

As the article mentions, there is no absolute distinction between these models. Every new model follows the old one and then separates its path with a new introduction. If we want to decide a line between behavioristic and communicative CALL, we should consider not only which software is used, but also how the software is put to use by the teacher and students.

Integrative CALL

Integrative CALL approaches based on two technological developments of the last decades: multimedia computers and the Internet.

Multimedia

There are a number of advantages of hypermedia such as creating more authentic learning environment, integrating skills, having students control their own learning, and the most important one, focusing on the content. Dustin is an example of usage of hypermedia to language learning. The students have chance to use language in more authentic and real-like medium with Dustin.

Besides these advantages of hypermedia for language learning, multimedia has some problems. First of all, the quality of available programs is a big problem. Language teachers are not trained to create such kind of programs and these programs’ developers are lack of pedagogical principles. The second problem is the interactivity of these programs. A program should be able to understand the students’ spoken input and evaluate its correctness and appropriateness. The last problem is unavailability of  intelligence degree of computer programs.

The Internet

Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) has been using since the 1960s allowing users asynchronous communication with electronic mail tool, or synchronous communication with MOOs. In addition to these, it also allows one-to-many interaction with different user groups.

Using World Wide Web, Computer Mediated Communication users can search millions of files around the world and publish their texts or multimedia materials.

The example of an integrated communicative environment for EFL students in Bulgaria shows how the Internet combined with other technologies. Their course is assisted by three technological tools: email communication with an American class of TESOL graduate students, concordances to search for other uses of an expressions, and audio tape recorded by the American students to provide listening and practice.

To sum up, the history of CALL shows us there are number of uses of computer to language learning both in classroom and out. It can serve tutor role to provide language drill and skill practice; or it can offer online discussion and interaction all around the world; or it can be used to access information and writing. The use of computer cannot be accepted as a method; in contrast, it allows applying a variety of approaches, methods, and pedagogical philosophies.

 

 

 

EXPECTATIONS FROM CALL COURSE

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Use technology in language learning classrooms is not an undeniable fact in recent years. By the developments in computer technologies, all courses and course practices have been based on computers. The new generation of the 2000s knows this kind of technologies better than the previous generation. In this case, the old generation needs an introduction to uses of computers for classroom.

Today, we are pre-service teachers and the previous generation of the 2000s. As we do not know all uses of computer, we need to get a course for it. For this purpose, Computer-Assisted Language Learning course will be beneficial for us in this semester.

By the end of this course, we will be able to use computer to teach language, to provide learners authentic language use environment. I strongly believe that attending the class regularly will empower our knowledge in the field of computer usage. I know using computer does not mean accessing some kind of social network sites; in contrast, it means to access interactive technologies in language teaching and learning.

By the help of this course, we will be informed about current developments on Computer-Assisted Language Learning applications. We also gain an ability to design our own web-based language learning medium with this course. In my opinion, CALL course has a great amount instrumentality for us as pre-service teachers while we are getting ready to become a teacher.