Evolving Technologies for Language Learning

Updated: Jul 21

Summary by Dr. Linh Phung

Summary of Evolving Technologies for Language Learning by Godwin-Jones (2021)


Reviewing the development of CALL in the past 25 years, Godwin-Jones (2021) describes the evolution of technologies with some coming and going without us noticing, such as multimodal plugins or Blu-ray disks. Current CALL reflects the rise of networks and multimodal communication and the commercialization and commodification of the Internet among other trends. Regarding commercialization of CALL, while language services can provide contextual language use through interactions with peers or tutors, the author argues that it is not the core of their approach. Interestingly, the author suggests that CALL approaches that are more in line with SLA theory and research findings point in quite different directions (from those of the commercial services). These include:

  • the centrality of socio-cultural learning in SLA (learning language through socialization and language use)

  • a model of language based on usage-based theories (learners acquire language through exposure to a large amount of language data)

  • the effectiveness in the use of leisure-oriented informal language learning resources (Youtube, Netflix, ...)

  • the reality of widespread multilingualism and translanguaging

With the evolution of technologies and directions that SLA points to, the author argues that new metaphors for CALL are needed. Common metaphors to describe the roles of computers or technologies in language learning used to be and still are "tutors" or "tools." However, Reinhardt (2020) also proposes a new set of metaphors, including windows, doorways, mirrors, and playgrounds to describe the new reality of language learning with technology. Breen (1999) and Goodwin-Jones (2021) add the porous classroom as learning extends beyond the classroom walls to include opportunities in communities near and far.


After reading this article, as I tried to visualize the some metaphors suggested above, I realized that the Eduling classroom banner almost captures all of those ideas. I'm using the picture here as an illustration. My Eduling Speak (available on the App Store and Google Play) also aims to put language use as its core approach. More information about the app can also be found here: www.eduling.org/speak.


Finally, I'm mostly sharing what I learned in the hope of pushing me to read more every day and sharing something useful to my colleagues.


The whole article can be accessed here: https://www.lltjournal.org/item/10125-73443/

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