An Invitation to CALL

Foundations of Computer-Assisted Language Learning

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An Invitation to CALL

Unit 4: CALL on the Web


We have been looking at CALL software and activities involving it regardless of whether it is accessible through disk, the Internet in general (like email) or the World Wide Web. This unit looks into the Web in more depth. The reason is that the Web represents the largest collection (by far!) of material that is accessible almost anytime and anywhere by almost anyone having a browser equipped computer and an Internet connection. The Web is also where you find the most common tool applications for CALL, in particular the browsers and online video players that give access to a seemingly endless collection of both dedicated and authentic English language material

Because of this, it is increasingly becoming the case that an expected competency for language teachers is an understanding of what the Web has to offer for language learning and how to use it is . The Web has been featured in many of the CALL articles and conference presentations since the mid 1990s, in particular practice-oriented ones. This is because it is constantly evolving, and, unlike disk-based tutorial software, often free and highly accessible to both students and teachers.

This unit is primarily about exploring, so follow up on links that look interesting. Note that this is just a start. Some of these sites will be discussed in greater detail in Unit 5.


Because of the hype surrounding it for language learning, it is useful to begin with some of the disadvantages of the Web over alternatives


Despite the disadvantages, there are many good reasons for using the Web for certain language learning activities. 

In the remainder of this unit, I will provide an overview of some of the uses the Web can be put to for language learning. Most of these are broad categories, and I encourage you to explore the ones you find most interesting in more detail.

Language support:

Authentic Language Materials. There are many, many options for this--here are just a few.

Lesson Plans & Projects

Dedicated Language Materials & Exercises

Other Resources

The key to using the Web is to be prepared. Know what the objective of your lesson is and try to make sure students are trained in what they need to know to accomplish that objective. Try to build some flexibility into the assignment or activity so that if something isn't working as expected it can still go on. 

Here are a few tasks to help you connect the material here to your language teaching: 

  1. The Web can be a resource for both classroom and online lessons: take a look at two or three of the lesson plans on the Web (Use Google ( to find "ESL lesson plans" if none of the sites above has what you're looking for). Do you think they represent activities that are consistent with your language teaching approach? Is there anything obvious you could do to improve them? 
  2. Meaning technologies like Babylon ( and online scripts for audio and video can hinder as well as help, since they can interfere with normal language processing. What are some ways to use them positively and to train learners in their use?
  3. Try three or four of the sites listed above that you haven't visited before. Note ways you might use them in current or future classes.
  4. Increasingly, the term "Web 2.0" is appearing on the Web and elsewhere. What is Web 2.0? There are examples of it here, such as  If you don't know what it is, go to a manifestation of it at and look up the term. How do you think Web 2.0 is changing language teaching?

Last modified: February 4, 2010, by Phil Hubbard