To Learn Before Teaching: English Teacher's Preparation through CALL - Learning Essay Example

To Learn Before Teaching: English Teacher’s Preparation through CALL

This purpose of this study is to examine how language teachers apply practical experiences from computer-assisted language learning (CALL) coursework to their teaching. It also examines ways in which teachers continue their CALL professional development. Participants in the study were 20 English as a second language and foreign language teachers who had, within the last 4 years, completed the same graduate-level CALL course and who are currently teaching. Surveys and follow-up interviews explored how participants learn about CALL activities; how what they learned in the course interacts with their current teaching contexts; the factors that influence whether or not they use technology in their classrooms; and how they continue to acquire and master new ideas in CALL. The findings support previous research on technology teacher education as it suggests that teachers who use CALL activities are often those teachers who had experience with CALL prior to taking the course; that lack of time, support, and resources prohibits the use of CALL activities in some classrooms; and that colleagues are the most common resource of new CALL activity ideas outside of formal coursework. Implications for teacher education are that teachers learn better in situated contexts, and technology courses should be designed

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While teacher education is in some ways still an “unstudied problem” (Freeman, 1996; National Center for Research on Teacher Education, 1988), there is a large body of literature describing and examining what happens in teacher-education technology courses and programs. The majority of studies on teacher technology education explore the following issues: what teachers are and/or should be learning in technology courses (Hargrave & Hsu, 2000; Johnson, 1999); teacher-education students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward technology (Atkins & Vasu, 2000; Milbraith & Kinzie, 2000); and how teachers think about and use computers in the classroom (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999; Levy, 1997a; Pilus, 1995; Walker, 1994). Much of this research shows that teacher-education technology courses and programs have a limited impact on how teachers think about and implement technologysupported teaching (Cuban, 1996; Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996).

Within this body of literature, however, few studies explore transfer from the practical content of teachereducation technology courses to the classroom. There is also a gap in the literature specific to the relatively new area of computer-assisted language learning (CALL; Lam, 2000). In order to help language teachers learn about and use technology effectively, we need to know more about the transfer of CALL coursework to the classroom. More specifically, we need to ask:

How do teachers learn about CALL-based activities?

How does what they learned in their coursework impact their current teaching contexts?

What factors influence whether they use computers in their classrooms?

How do participants continue to acquire and master new ideas?

The present research proposal shapes the general framework for the study about “Continuing Professional Development” & “Management of Change” within the realm of CALL computer assisted language learning. In Europe and the UK, CALL was introduced in response to the labour markets looking “for greater mobility of skilled and service workers” (Liddell & Garrett, 2004, p. 30). Up to the mid 1990s, the classical concept of CALL as “the search for and study of applications on the computer in language teaching and learning” (Levy, 1997, p. 1) has grown into the integrative system being important for educational needs[1].

From the linguistic perspective, the integrative CALL follows the Vygotskyan sociocultural model of language learning[2] as well as the sociocognitive theories[3]. From the pedagogical perspective, it comprises the concept of learner autonomy (Chapelle, 2001; Ellis, 2002; Fotos, 2001; Healy, 1999, in Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 4) enabling an individual to acquire skills and knowledge through a series of active cognitive efforts.

From the technological perspective, CALL assumes the acquirement of computer literacy (see Felix, 1999, 2002; Hawisher & Self, 2000; Murray, 2000; Warschauer, 1999, in Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 6) and the operability of the learner under technological determinism (Dede, 1995, 1997; Levinson’s soft determinism, 1997, in Warschauer, 2004, p. 15-6); the latter is triggered by the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Thus, the conceptual framework for the present research would be integrative CALL which is “authentic, Web-based communication for meaningful purpose” (Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 7) where ICT media such as computer, software and web-based interactive resources are viewed as tools to reach educational goals (Levy, 1997, p. 82; cf. Taylor’s three-fold role system of computer as the tutor, tool, and tutee, in Levy, 1997, p. 83) and the goals are to provide authentic language learning and teaching for practical purposes within the audience of college students with secondary-school teaching bias.

A rationale for the study

The current motto of the modern CALL proponents claims that, “Technology will not replace teachers; teachers who use technology will replace those who don’t!” (Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 7). Nowadays technology is closely associated with increased computer literacy[4]. According to Jones, “’learners’ lack of technical competence’ is a major constraint on successful CALL practice” (2001, p. 2, in Hubbard, 2004, p. 47). Therefore, modern educators and linguists need to use technological innovations to promote practice-oriented language and communication skills.

The current research in the given area grounds on proven correlations between technological changes, applied linguistics, sociological and educational contexts[5]. According to Warschauer, ten strands of change in both the CALL and technological realms (2004, p. 16-8) are likely to alter communication processes, linguistic and professional contexts, to shape critically literacies, to produce new genres, identities and pedagogies (Warschauer, 2004, p. 19-21).

Fotos & Browne suggested that CALL produced positive effect on a set of linguistic and educational skills, abilities and environments[6]. The new era of integrative CALL in constantly refined technological settings is defined as “accuracy plus fluency plus agency” (Warschauer, 2004, p. 23) where agency is planning, taking and evaluating meaningful action. This broad rationale should result in a series of meaningful actions to provide integrative CALL approach to the training of future secondary-school language teachers.

A statement of the research questions

On the current stage of the proposal, the main goal of research is viewed as the implementation of CALL practices conducted with the wide array of modern technologies (computers and CALL software, the Internet, multimedia and web systems) to support future teachers in their language and education methodology acquisition in various environments (college, campus, secondary schools as places of practice, home, WWW, etc.). The promotion of reflective language-learning and teaching practices calls for researching some categories of questions linked to the management of change in educational environments:

Do the CALL practices work in educational environments where one category of the stake-holders consists of future teachers?

How do the CALL practices work best in a given specific environment?

What are the factors contributing to the stake-holders using given methods and tools?

How can the implementation of CALL be improved in regard to administration, curriculum, social and individual background of the future teachers?

Under what conditions and due to what external and internal factors students are likely to use the CALL options provided?

What are the learning outcomes for the students using CALL in the given environment?

What are the differences in learning and communication patterns observed among students with different social and academic background?

Research methodology and justification of the research approach

This is going to be an application research since it “focuses on in-context technology innovations and issues of practice” (Orrill et al., 2004, p. 340). The rationale for the methodology chosen is derived from modern practice, this “day-to-day integration of technology, our understanding of the necessary design links between pedagogical goals and technological implementation” to reach “the redefinition of language teaching as a whole” (Garrett, 1998, p. 9).

As it was mentioned, on the current stage it is unwelcome to define research problems rigidly because in the collaboration with the participants new perspectives may be revealed. Thus, the issues of practical CALL usability and implementation are better investigated in the action research-based user designs (Carr, 1997; Schuler and Namioka, 1993, in Carr-Chellman & Savoy, 2004, p. 712) where the participatory action research (PAR) model is preferable. This is “research with a purpose, in context, to improve an organization with practical applications” (Whyte, 1991; Stoecker, 1999; Rahman, 1993, ibid.).

The research capabilities include tracking software and technology-based language learning materials (pedagogical software, web use, or network-based communication) in the learning process (Garrett, 1998, pp. 9-10) as well as pedagogical research and second language and methodology acquisition. The research is planned to be conducted within three years and is structured according to the Educational Management Action Research (EMAR) model providing scaffolding within a spiral action research approach[7]. The organisational context is The College of Basic Education which graduates secondary school teachers. The research of three EMAR subsystems (the pedagogical Model, the educational setting, the evaluation process) will be conducted in several stages, namely, diagnosis (one-six months) in parallel with computer literacy module (6 months), implementation (three 6-month modules designed to research several scopes of interest, e.g., language and teaching skills in application to technology usage) and a final 1-year project with evaluation processes permeating the whole research.

List of references and bibliography
Carr-Chellman, A., & Savoy, M. (2004). User-Design Research. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 701-717). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Retrieved February 5, 2006, <http://www.eurocall-languages.org>.

Fotos, S., & Browne, C. (2004). The Development of CALL and Current Options. In C. M. Browne, & S. Fotos (Eds.), New Perspectives on Call for Second Language Classrooms (pp. 3-14). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Garrett, N. (May 1998). Where do research and practice meet? Developing a discipline. In F. Blin, & J. Thompson (Eds.), Special Issue Where Research And Practice Meet Selected Papers From Eurocall 97 Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland, 11-13 September 1997. ReCall Journal 10 (1), 7-12.

Hubbard, P. (2004). Learner Training for Effective Use of CALL. In C. M. Browne, & S. Fotos (Eds), New Perspectives on Call for Second Language Classrooms (pp. 45-68). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Levy, M. (1997). Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Liddell, P., & Garrett, N. (2004). The New Language Centers and the Role of Technology: New Mandates, New Horizons. In C. M. Browne, & S. Fotos (Eds), New Perspectives on Call for Second Language Classrooms (pp. 27-40). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Mcpherson, M., & Nunes, M. B. (2004). Developing Innovation in Online Learning: An Action Research Framework. London: Routledge Falmer.

Orrill, C. H, Hannafin, M. J., & Glazer, E. M. (2004). Disciplined Inquiry and the Study of Emerging Technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 335-341). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Warschauer, M. (2004). Technological Change and the Future of CALL. In C. M. Browne, & S. Fotos (Eds), New Perspectives on Call for Second Language Classrooms (pp. 15-26). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Internet Reference
Joy Egbert , Trena M. Paulus , Yoko Nakamichi, 2002. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&se=gglsc&d=5002490597

[1] Felix, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002; Schcolnik, 2002; Lin & Hsieh, 2001; Hawisher & Self, 2000; Kern & Warschauer, 2000; Murray, 2000; Healy, 1999; Warschauer, 1996; all mentioned in Fotos & Browne, 2004, pp. 6-7.
[2] Meaning is created through personal interaction, after Vygotsky, 1962; Ong, 1982, in Warschauer, 2004, p. 15-6; Wertsch, 1985, in Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 6.
[3] Besides passively mastering acquiring language skills a language speaker needs to integrate into “new discourse communities”, Warschauer, 2004, p. 22.
[4] Beller-Kenner, 1999; Huntley, 1997; Morrison, 1997; web browsers and search engines in Ryan, 1997; e-mail in Gaer, 1999; MOOs and MUDs, multi-user domains in Falsetti, Frizler, Schweitzer, & Younger, 1997, found in Hubbard, 2004, p. 47.
[5] Warschauer 2004, p. 15; see also Crystal, 2001; Murray, 2000; Warschauer, 2003, in Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 7.
[6] 2004, p. 3, also Pennington, 1996; Pennington & Stevens, 1992; Warschauer, 1995; Yates, 1996; Palloff & Pratt, 1999; Warschauer, 1996; 1999; Shetzer & Warschauer, 2000; in Fotos & Browne, 2004, p. 9; about learner control see also Higgins, 1984; Boling and Soo, 1999; Pemberton, Li, Or, and Pierson, 1996; Benson and Voller, 1997; Warschauer, Schetzer, and Meloni, 2000; Averill, Chambers, and Dantas-Whitney, 2000; Benson, 2001; in Hubbard, 2004, p. 48-50)
[7] Fox and Herrman, 2000; Goodyear, 1999; Khakhar, 1998; Coghlan and Brannick, 2001; Nunes and McPherson, 2004.

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