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Another look at tutorial CALL



According to the dichotomy popularized by Levy (1995, 1997), computers may be used in language learning in either tutor or tool roles. Recently there has been a waning of interest in tutorial software for language learning in favor of tool-oriented applications. While we do not dispute the value of the computer as a tool, we argue that it is in the best interest of CALL practitioners and language teachers in general to be better informed about the realities of tutorial software so that the field can continue to grow and mature along multiple paths. In support of this position, we present a case for placing tutorial CALL back into the mainstream of the field. After a discussion of several common myths about tutorial CALL, we offer six reasons as to why tutorial CALL has been marginalized. We follow with some evidence that, despite the presence of these myths and this marginalization, CALL practitioners around the world continue to find tutorial CALL appealing for research and development. Specifically, we review the presentations at four major CALL Conferences in 2002 and classify them as primarily focused on tutor or tool uses. Although tool-oriented applications dominate overall, the results show a strong continuing interest in tutorial applications as well. We conclude with proposals for (1) reconsidering the dichotomous nature of the tutor-tool distinction, (2) changing the defining characteristic of tutorial CALL from evaluation to teaching presence, and (3) suggesting several aspects of language learning that tutorial CALL is best suited to support, given the present state of technology.


Another look at tutorial CALL



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