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Content-centered CALL and learner engagement

Background:  My experiences with students aged 15-21 show that, apart from the very basic levels of language learning students profit from contents-based language teaching involving CALL. They tire quickly from drill and kill exercises, and the lasting effects of such programs are dubious to say the least, unless combined with more stimulating materials.

Research question:  I would like to see more focus on contents-based CALL.  Much software and  many studies have concentrated on merely the linguistic side of language learning, not paying enough attention to contents. I do not mean just written reports of literature or social studies, which are of course excellent  to train writing skills.  The easy access to huge databases of information of all kinds – literature, politics, environment etc. -  should be seen as a motivating factor to learn languages on a higher level, so students acquire negotiating skills instead of only survival skills, because they are genuinely interested in getting their message through – on a satisfactory intellectual level.

Suggested methodology/comments:  A starting point could very well be a traditional e-mail project involving several countries and one or two target languages. A range of  topics could be agreed upon at the beginning.

Methodologies could include:

-  Tandem or peer learning where students correct and comment on each others’ contributions

-  Autonomous exploitation of online facilities, i.e. databases, mono- or bilingual dictionaries including dictionaries of synonyms and antonyms, dictionaries of proverbs and idiomatic expressions, grammars.

-  A fleshware tutor to assure the oral aspect of language learning  e.g. through discussions in class of the various contributions to the topics.

Contact:  Lis Ramberg Beyer   Lis.Ramberg.Beyer@skolekom.dk

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