From CALL, to ICALL, to MALL, to RALL, oh how we’ve moved on!
The pioneering drill and practice CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) computer programmes that dominated the style of learning in the 60’s and 70’s has witnessed many changes. The 1980’s brought about the first radical change in the form of ICALL (Intelligent Computer Assisted Language Learning), where NLP (Natural Language Processing) help computers understand the structure of human language in order to be able to generate it from a computational data structure.
Dramatic shifts in our electronic environment has resulted in mobile technology navigating our learning environment and MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) is becoming ever more popular as educators incorporate smartphones and tablets into their teaching practice. This form of mobile technology also extends to RALL (Robot Assisted Language Learning).
Humanoid robots are already being used for educational purposes and language learning in the US, Japan, and Korea. Japan and the US are using robots as peer tutors, while Korea is using them as teaching assistants and “friends” to generate motivation and increase learning achievement. In the US and Korea the robots use visual instructional materials while in Japan the interaction is gesture and voice-based. Unsurprisingly, RALL is already in full swing in Korea. iRobiQ is an example of an anthropomorphized robot which has been developed with a face, and a tablet interface attached to its chest like Pepper. The advantage of iRobiQ is the emphasis on education and language learning, whereas Pepper has been created for companionship.
So just how long will it be before we start hanging out with humanoid robots in our staff rooms and teaching institutions I wonder?!
This post is inspired by a shout out from Hugh Dellar to find out how we encourage our learners to read. After just finishing an intensive FCE course, where I tried to no avail to encourage my students to read in their own time to increase their exposure to language, I have given the subject some thought, and next course I’m determined I’m going to “Get them reading on the move!”. I’d like to motivate students to make use of those idle moments on the bus/train/metro when they are usually involved in less cognitive activities and encourage them to read. All my students complain that they “don’t have time to read”, so this is my action plan to encourage students to consider their smart phones as a reading tool by making them aware of MALL.
- Ask Ss what they are interested in and guide them towards online magazines and websites which they can access on their smartphones. Ensure 10-15 mins class time is dedicated to share and compare when students can feedback to each other about the article/s they’ve read that week. Without an in class follow up activity, the chances that Ss will actually take the time and/or effort to read in their spare time are slim.
- I often set up a Whasapp group with my classes. By uploading short texts or articles to the group, students don’t need connectivity to consult it, so have no excuses! They can then feedback in the group and/or write a summary of the key points, which will encourage them to read for content and not only gist.
- Another way of exploiting uploaded a texts to a whatsapp group, is to encourage learners to trawl the text for adjectives, noun/verb collocations, verb tenses to get them analysing the language and not just seeing it without considering its formation.
- Synonym searches are another useful activity. Ss are given synonyms of key words in the uploaded text to find. This ensures they reading for comprehension and not gist.
As always, I’d love to know if you try anything and how it worked!
British Council Learn English Grammar (UK Edition) is a great way for learners to practice their grammar structures in their own time outside class. Great for making use of commuting time to brush up on grammar skills while on the move. Any queries can be verified with teachers in class. Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced level packs available.
Available for Android on Google Play, Windows Phone and iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Using the video recording function of a smart phone or iPod Touch is a fun, interactive and engaging way for learners to practise their speaking skills. Video activities can help with fluency, confidence and presentation skills in English.
In each of the activities below, you can decide how much ground work is involved before the final video is created. This could involve research at home or brainstorming in class, depending on the learning goals.
About me (Individual task / Pair task with students being interviewed by a classmate)
Students create a short video (1-3 minutes) and talk about an interest they particularly enjoy.
Points to include:
- What is the interest?
- How did the interest come about?
- How much time do you spend doing it?
- Why do you enjoy it?
- A demonstration of the interest, if possible?
Welcome to our city / region / country (Collaborative task)
Students create a 2-3 minute video with a partner or group showing visitors a place they would like to take them in their city, region or country.
Points to include:
- Why is this place is worth visiting?
- Background history
- Opening hours / best season to visit
Students create a 1-2 minute promotional video about a product they use, or an invented product.
Points to include:
- Picture of the product if invented, or the product itself
- Description of the product
- Why is it useful?
- Where can it be bought?