Events > Online Discussion: Teacher Education in CALL - Trends and Issues

Embarking on a discussion on "Teacher Education in CALL"

From: "Sophie and Yiannis" <>
Date: Mon Apr 3, 2006 1:17 am
Subject: beginning discussion on "Teacher Education in CALL"

Today we begin a week-long discussion on "Teacher Education in CALL - Trends and Issues", a topic which is recently generating great interest in our field.

I hope you will actively join the discussion and enjoy sharing opinions with our CALL colleagues worldwide. You will find interesting reading and ideas to start you thinking on the topic here where we have uploaded (with kind permission by John Benjamins Publishing) an excerpt from the Introduction and a pre-publication draft of Chapter 1 from "Teacher Education in CALL", an edited volume in preparation by Phil Hubbard and Mike Levy.

Looking forward to 'hearing' what you all have to say.

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Welcome to Phil Hubbard and Mike Levy

From: "Sophie and Yiannis" <>
Date: Mon Apr 3, 2006  1:18 am
Subject: "welcome to Phil Hubbard and Mike Levy"

Hi again to everyone!

I would like to welcome Phil Hubbard and Mike Levy to our discussion and thank them both warmly for accepting our invitation.

Both our fielders are very prominent and active in CALL and we are very lucky to have them with us.

Phil Hubbard is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Stanford University and Director of the English for Foreign Students Program at the Language Center there. He has been involved in CALL for over 20 years, published articles on CALL methodology and research, and authored over 20 tutorial programs for ESL. He is an associate editor of the CALL Journal and currently serves on the Executive Board of CALICO, the TESOL Technology Advisory Committee, and the editorial boards of the CALICO Journal and Language Learning & Technology. He also maintains websites for CALL teacher training and unanswered research questions in CALL. His recent work in CALL includes research design, listening comprehension, learner training, and teacher education: in that last area he and Mike Levy are co-editors of the forthcoming book, Teacher Education in CALL.

Mike Levy is Head of the School and Associate Professor of Languages and Linguistics at Griffith University. He has taught EFL in the UK, Kuwait and Japan and ESL in Australia, and has been a teacher trainer for the Royal Society of Arts Diploma. For the last 15 years his principal interest in teaching and research has been Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). He has taught many courses in the field at three universities as part of Masters Degrees in Applied Linguistics. He also has a long history of publications in CALL. His books include: Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and conceptualization (Oxford University Press, UK, 1997), CALL Dimensions: Options and Issues in CALL (In press, Erlbaum), co-authored with Glenn Stockwell; and Teacher Education in CALL (In press, Benjamins), co-edited with Phil Hubbard. He is Associate Editor of the CALL and CALL-EJ Online journals and on the Editorial Board of the ReCALL Journal.


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Teacher Training and CALL: Trends and Issues: Summary of the online discussion

This summary was compiled using emails sent to the Computer SIG Discussion List by Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou, Acting Discussion Forum Moderator

The topic of this discussion was very timely as interest in our field for the area of Teacher Training in CALL is growing. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of ICT skills in the existing teacher force, despite the fact that technologies are now considered a main aspect of teaching and learning. The discussion was fielded by Phil Hubbard of Stanford University, USA and Mike Levy of Griffith University, Australia. It generated great interest and much debate.

Phil and Mike initiated the discussion by identifying five themes which run through CALL education:

  1. the need for both technical and pedagogical training in CALL, ideally integrated with one another;
  2. the recognition of the limits of formal teaching because the technology changes so rapidly;
  3. the need to connect CALL education to authentic teaching settings, especially ones where software, hardware, and technical support differ from the ideal;
  4. the idea of using CALL to learn about CALL-experiencing educational applications of technology firsthand as a student to learn how to use technology as a teacher;
  5. the value of having CALL permeate the language teacher education curriculum rather than appear solely in a standalone course.

Point 2 was extensively discussed and the answer proposed to the limitations of formal teaching was online communities of practice. Although the benefits of formal courses were not negated, the role of online communities was considered very important, if not central, to ensuring that trained teachers remain up-to-date with new technologies and their implementation in the language classroom. Online communities were also seen as a way of training teachers in geographically isolated or resource-challenged areas. Finally, their role in helping teachers reach for what they need, according to their contexts and knowledge levels (just-in-time learning), was also emphasized.

Point 3 also generated much discussion. The role of context/teacher setting in CALL teacher education was felt by all as a very important issue due to the extremely different contexts trainees have to work in; ranging from cutting-edge technological environments to contexts where access to a computer is considered a luxury.

Some debated for a 'context first, technology second' approach, whereas others said technology and context are part of the same parcel, since available technology is part of the context. It was finally argued that, primarily, we should consider our teaching goals and focus on how to achieve them and what the best possible way to do that is. The best way may or may not include technology and may or may not include latest technological developments, even if these are available in the specific teaching context.

The role of Standards in CALL Teacher Education was also discussed. It was agreed that Technology Standards would be useful to have so that teachers know what skills are required of them and so that administrators know what qualifications/skills to look for when hiring. Administrators cannot be assumed to know the current level of technological knowledge required and depending on the local culture/context they may not be welcome in classrooms. This emphasizes the need to know the qualifications of teachers before hiring and, hence, the need for Technology Standards in Teacher Education.

Another indication of the need for Standards is that in France students are required to have IT standards which are assessed jointly by all their subject teachers whereas in the UK the ITQ qualification is increasingly used as a benchmark for IT users.

It was, however, pointed out that discrete skills were not adequate but teachers should know how to pedagogically adapt technology efficiently in various contexts. Standards should also be flexible and sensitive to the realities of a wide variety of situations/contexts. Finally, there is no way to anticipate changes in technology so frequent revising of Standards should be acceptable. In this respect, they shouldn't be too detailed and too specific, since that would make their life shorter.

Due to the widely varying contexts which trainees would work in a recurring suggestion was to teach trainees the most basic IT skills and skills which would enable the trainees to keep developing on their own through self-discovery and experimentation, as well through the help of online communities. This, however, led to the question of which technology is the 'most basic', by whose standards, in which context, which technology is the 'most universal'.

There were, however, voices who argued against this suggestion. They raised the issue that those who have the latest equipment and capabilities for using more advanced technology, should also be catered for. SO it was suggested there should be some balance between the most 'stable' technologies and the newer ones. It was suggested that courses could start with more well-established / 'stable' technologies and after empowering, trainees and raising their confidence levels, then introduce more recent technologies.

Finally, there were a number of suggestions made as regards teacher training courses in CALL:

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