LG478 TASK SCHEDULE in more detail.. incorporating a classified overview of CALL software/activity types





After my historical introduction and overview, we will spend most of the term reviewing (and where relevant seeing how, in simple ways, to create material in) various software in some rough and ready categories, loosely defined in terms of the task type involved (=exercise type, game type, material type, test type...). Contrast Higgins’ four categories of CALL program (Computers and English Language Learning p4-6). Note that I think it is instructive to consider CALL software/tasks by looking at them by their pedagogical type together (e.g. review several Hangman-type games together, which are a particular kind of open choice vocab task, regardless of medium), rather than by their computer type (e.g. all CD materials together, or everything that happens to be on one internet site together). That way we can focus better and evaluate best what computerised versions of a particular task are possible and their strengths and weaknesses for particular users. But it often means you are just looking at one task provided by a program/WWW site quite selectively.

Below I refer either to programs we have at Essex, or to WWW sites where an activity of the type specified can be found (often mixed in with others). I also include some specific READING references to sources on theory or evaluation etc. related to the specific CALL areas/tasks, where I have come across them and had time to add them. I also add links to my CALL CREATION page where I happen to know an easy way to author your own material in the relevant type of program/task.

This schedule is incomplete and under revision. I am checking the links, availability of software, and adding reading refs during this term. However, I don’t have the time or resources to ever make it more than a small and somewhat accidental sampling of the software and the reading in each category. Both reflect what I happen to have accrued over the years. It is chosen for wide use and/or availability at Essex: there is additionally much software that was developed in one place and used in some CALL experiment by a teacher or researcher there but never became available/widespread. If you find interesting programmes on CDs of your own, or the WWW, or come across good reading refs, please let me know and I will add them.

Each week we will work on an area. However, in class we will not likely get through all those listed. 


·        They are not classified by level of learner, level of language, type of English…. Versions of most of the types could be created for use at various levels, for ESP or general English, depending on the language content

·        In some instances you have to pick out the relevant exercise from a CD or website that has a whole lot of other stuff as well

·        They all require the user to do some reading/listening for the instructions, apart from the activity focussed on

·        There are five types of media listed… check where to access them.

·        The BBC and DOS software was widely used in the past but no longer meets today’s standards of computer presentation and/or general availability, so is unlikely to be used with a real class of learners today. However it is included for historical interest and because in some cases I haven’t found the ideas in them reproduced in recent programs (or I don’t have the recent versions).

·         We don’t have examples of CALL materials at the more high tech (AI, NLP) end of the spectrum. See for example the (planned) work of  EUROCALL special interest groups (Genuinely 'intelligent' CALL, which is being developed in some centres e.g. in Holland, we don't have. There, for example, sophisticated parsing programs are used to help the computer 'understand' what the learner types in much more like a real recipient. Or, like an 'expert system', the computer builds up a model of the behaviour and level of the learner from his/her responses and presents material accordingly. Or... read Pennington and Stevens ch13. Virtual reality is coming one day.... Machine translation. See separate course.)

To find further materials, and maybe mentions of some of those below,  consult one of the several classified databases of CALL materials which usually include short descriptions and maybe evaluations of each package. E.g. those maintained at the University of Hull (which specialises in CALL)  which cover CALL for all sorts of languages, not just English http://www.hull.ac.uk/cti/resources/swdb.htm  for descriptions and http://www.hull.ac.uk/cti/reviews/revlist.htm for evaluations/reviews. Also Levy p86-88 has a classified list.


Closed word and sentence level tasks on specific grammar, vocab etc. points, in a set of discrete items.

These language-oriented tasks are mostly very familiar in pen and paper form as textbook and class exercises and EFL test items. They include also some familiar ‘games’. They are mostly grammar and vocab oriented, and the computer can check responses. Older ones are in read/write mode, newer ones may include sound and picture and self-recording of words/sentences. Tasks following reading and listening or use of grammars etc. in later categories may also be in these forms, especially m/c. English Tutor (DOS) has activities of most of these types in one suite. READING: Coverage of early forms of these in Jones and Fortescue ch2-4. The general principles of making good multiple choice exercises and so on in paper form apply here too: see books on writing such test items.

Total one-word cloze / reconstruction (Hangman-type games)

Wilt (BBC), a  Business English Hangman, Various hangman games here under ‘Word games’ (Java… Mathew Stowe’s is good), a 3D Hangman (long download time). Hangman with Japanese clues. Some ‘games’ at Miss Janssen. Also WordMeister.

‘Skullman’ in WIDA Vocab (DOS) allows CREATION

‘Alphagame’ and ‘Mindword’  in WIDA Vocab (DOS) supply distinctively different kinds of clues and allow CREATION

Word reconstruction from jumbled letters (Anagram games)

There are several quite different ways of presenting this on computer here…

Vocabulary Anagrams,  Scrambled Words, http://www.manythings.org/jumble/, Scrambled words at this site

‘Anagrams’ in WIDA Vocab (DOS) allows CREATION, as does JMix in HotPotatoes

                        Word identification in a mass of letters (Wordsearch)

                                    Wordsearch puzzles, Wordsearch with sound

                        Word dictation

‘Dictation’ in English Your Way (CD)

                        Minimal pair sound discrimination


Open choice word form-meaning pairs practice in various modes

These allow you to study or self test the word’s form (written and/or spoken) connected to its meaning (represented by picture or Eng synonym or Eng definition or translation, etc.). READING: Christopher Jones 1999 ‘Contextualise & personalise: key strategies for vocabulary acquisition’ ReCALL journal online 11,3 describes and evaluates a superior program of this type for vocab learning.

Picture diary option in Impariamo L'Inglese and Let’s Learn Italian (CD), Wordstuff English and Spanish (CD)

Various picture ‘vocab’ quizzes at http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/TAKEATEST.htm and http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/VOCABULARY.htm

WIDA Wordstore (DOS) uses English definitions and allows CREATION

‘Memory mania’ and ‘Bingo’ and ‘Concentration’ and other vocab games in Smart Start English involve finding, studying and remembering pictures and words heard or read, with chance to have your own pronunciation checked (CD); ‘Listening phrases’ in Smart Start English (CD) uses descriptions of people, locations etc.

Flashcards  with translation, opposites etc.

Crossword puzzles are a special case. See in English Your Way (CD). See http://www.tesol.net/scripts/CrosswordMaker for a demo of a free CREATION program you can download. CREATION also possible with JCross in HotPotatoes

http://www.manythings.org/slang/ supply and check English synonym for word in sentence.

Tree of knowledge (BBC) uses defining features in a simple AI format (READING: Chapelle 2001 p33-4)

Pair matching tasks from sets (pairs may be of words, parts of sentences… etc.)

‘Matchit’ in Matchmaster (DOS), Three variants of matching game,  Matching tags, quantifiers etc.

Memory plus matching (requires Shockwave), Concentration games.

‘Memory’ in WIDA Matchmaster (DOS) allows CREATION, as does JMatch in HotPotatoes

Multiple choice (of words or phrases to fit  words or sentences etc.)

Bilingual and English m/c tests of isolated vocab on Internet TESL Jnl bilingual quiz site

Slideshow option in Impariamo L'Inglese and Let’s Learn Italian (CD), Rosetta Stone Demo (CD)  has picture/sound/written m/c tasks in various languages at the level of words and sentences, Picture m/c vocab, ‘Which word’ in WIDA Vocab (DOS)

WIDA Choicemaster (DOS) allows CREATION as does JBC in HotPotatoes

Gramex and Themen (In the labs follow Start…Programs…Applications…Lang and Ling Apps…German…)

Vocabulary and Question and Answer in English Your Way (CD) have spoken stems

Various vocab, grammar, multi-word verb and collocation m/c exercises, http://www.manythings.org/qs/, http://www.manythings.org/c/r.cgi/quiz, http://www.manythings.org/fq/,  PhraseDaze proverbs many of  Vera Mello’s exercises and the Internet TESL Jnl self-study Quizzes, more www examples at this site, http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/youmeus/quiznet/newquiz61.shtml

Various tasks e.g. ‘modal verbs’ in The Grammar ROM (CD), Europress Language Labs English (CD)

Open choice cloze of words in isolated sentences

Many at http://www.manythings.org/pd/, Open choice gapped proverbs.  Business crossword puzzle is in fact of this type. Also various ‘fill in’ grammar tests at http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/TAKEATEST.htm

WIDA Gapmaster (DOS) allows CREATION as does JQuiz in HotPotatoes

Sentence reconstruction (from jumbled words)

Conventional sentence reconstruction examples programmed in several different ways. Some more at http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/TAKEATEST.htm

A slide puzzle version and another, odd version: http://www.manythings.org/dd/

Some tasks on The Grammar ROM (CD), ‘Word order’ in Vocab (DOS), ‘Reading conversations’ in Smart Start English (CD), Brazilian example

JMix in HotPotatoes allows conventional creation. An interesting variant that allows authoring is WIDA Double Up (DOS).

Sentence level tasks of an exploratory type

Unlike the above, these do not have any computer check on accuracy of response.

                        Computer generated sentences for the user to read

            This could be seen as the computer program in search of a useful pedagogical task. I.e. an instance where it is not too hard to program a computer to do something, but there is no instantly obvious learning/teaching use for it. Can you think of any pedagogically useful task for any learners you know to build round Randomly generated sentences or English sentence machine (ask for Random pattern)?

            Selected words provided for the user to produce his/her own sentence from

            Like sentence reconstruction but with an indeterminate number of  possible sentences (and non-sentences)

                                    http://www.manythings.org/mb/, http://www.manythings.org/ts/

                        Word lists for self-study

… but less than complete dictionaries (for which see later)

                                    ABC option in Impariamo L'Inglese and Let’s Learn Italian (CD)


http://www.manythings.org/i/, Frequency lists with concordance and sound available

Text cloze tasks

Text cloze involves gap filling in a continuous text. In some types the entire text is a gap at the start, and the job is to reconstruct it. Unlike the task types above it is integrative rather than discrete point – i.e. it involves several levels of language, not just one, and not items all of one type. People debate if it is more a reading or writing task or just one that involves a person’s entire language proficiency.

Conventional cloze exercise (text with selected word gaps)

Most often the gaps are open choice, though they can also be m/c. READING: S. Windeatt 1986 ‘Observing CALL in action’ in ed. Leech and Candlin Computers in English Language Teaching and Research. Jones and Fortescue pp36-7 (Screentest and Clozemaster)

Readamatics (BBC), Divergent Cloze (BBC), Sentence by sentence cloze texts, many of  Vera Mello's Cloze and Dialog exercises

Sophisticated CREATION is easy with the Compleat Lexical Tutor, simpler with JCloze in HotPotatoes

Total text reconstruction (text with all words as gaps)

READING: Chapelle 2001 p63/4 evaluates Storyboard; also see p10. Jones and Fortescue pp37-40.

Eclipse (DOS), a WWW example and  Another

The mother of all these is WIDA Storyboard (DOS), which allows CREATION


In a simulation the learners role play in a situation they are presented with. It is not a real one (cf. email, chatrooms) and may either be presented visually or described in words. They are required to make decisions, say things (in written form), explore, and the computer tells them the consequences. These are quite different from the widespread modern 'real time simulations' (RTS) which arguably are the least likely to have CALL potential because they rely mainly on quick motor-perceptual reactions to shoot down aliens or keep a car on the road (e.g. all those arcade and Nintendo and PS2 computer games). However, any modern game or simulation that does NOT have real time response time as the key ingredient is potentially usable for CALL in the traditional way… usually with teacher support.  READING: G. Murray 1999 ‘Autonomy and language learning in a simulated environment’ System 27 reports learner comments after using something of this type on videodisk. Jones and Fortescue ch9 and 10 on classic programs of this type. This website has an account of Sim City, an example of a modern multimedia simulation game with no apparent language teaching purpose. However, it has CALL potential.

Adventure/Fantasy/Historical situations

Yellow River Kingdom (BBC), Hugo's House (DOS), Carmen Sandiego’s Great Chase through Time (CD). Ref to the last in Cobb and Stevens 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p116.

More everyday situations

FastFood (DOS), London Adventure (BBC), Who is Oscar Lake? (CD). There is a modern implementation of FastFood called the Virtual Lemonade Stand at http://www.bconnex.net/~kidworld/

For a very simple web-based simulation with CALL potential imagine getting students to visit  http://theenglishjournal.com.br/vocabulary.php and try the THINK game. The student plays the role of audience to a magician doing a magic trick – reading the student’s mind. The task could be for learners to work in pairs with each learner trying the game in turn. They discuss possible ways in which the magician manages to read the learners’ minds. It usually takes people a little time to figure it out! What off-screen communicative language could this generate?

Along the same lines, one could set learners to play Freecell (Windows) or MahJong or any of the many traditional board and card games available in computer form.

ESP situations

Industrial Chemistry (BBC), Great Britain Limited

Conversation in written form with computer (fantasy/realistic)

READING: Chapelle 2001 p61-2 evaluates a simulation of this general type that we don’t have an example of – Microworld. See also Jones and Fortescue ch13 on Grammarland, and Higgins  Computers and English Language Learning on ‘conjectural’ activities p16ff.

ELIZA (BBC), Talkback (BBC)

On the WWW a kind of simulation that involves written conversation of a sort is the MOO/MUD, described from ELT point of view in this MOO article. To experience one, go to the MOO site and choose to ‘visit schMOOze’ but it may help to write down the basic MOO commands first since using these sites involves learning some to get around. See ‘student assignments’ for an idea of what can be done in this MOO. Apart from typing commands to do things, the user can have conversations in written form with computer generated characters, and other actual people who happen to be visiting at the same time (the last therefore resembles a chatroom, though the MOO has the difference apparently that the it provides more of a complete simulated environment of places in a landscape that you can move around and explore, and that people who frequent MOOs very often adopt names and personalities other than their real ones). READING: D. Crystal 2001 Language and the Internet ch6; Chapelle p24; Klaus Schwienhorst 1998 ‘The ‘third place’ – virtual reality applications for second language learning’ ReCALL journal online 10,1; Levy 1997 p99-100, p172. M. Warschauer 1995 E-Mail for English Teaching p57ff.

Conversation in spoken form (realistic)

‘Simulation’ in Getting the Message (CD), ‘Speaking conversation’ in Smart Start English (CD)

Text writing tasks

Wordprocessing compositions/essays is a prime task of this type, typically with various support facilities and spelling and grammar ‘checkers’. More guided tasks may also be performed. READING: The writing research literature has a fair bit on the effects of writing with pen vs wordprocessor (e.g. Pennington Writing in an Electronic Medium). See also L.Schmitt and K. Christianson 1998 ‘Pedagogical aspects of a UNIX-based network management system for English instruction’ System 26 (describes a system for electronic submission of written work which is checked by computer with some automatic feedback to student and some to teacher). Chapelle 2001 p13/14, 62/3 evaluates composition writing with the use of parsing or grammar checkers; p73f  refers to research on types of error feedback.  Jones and Fortescue ch7, 8. Phinney 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL esp. p137-145.

CREATION of simple tasks… can be word processed by teacher in advance.

Guided writing tasks on wordprocessor

A WWW compendium of suggestions at various levels

                        Guided writing where the computer composes using information supplied by the user

Computer Assisted Writing writes text using user information… an extreme sort of guided writing

                        Model written texts

            Sites such as http://www.edlibrary.com/essays/inmers6/101385.html provide model essays on many popular school and university topics, usually at a price. The learner may  use these as models of content and organisation to base their own writing on (or of course plagiarise the whole thing ….)

Guided process writing

Deadline (DOS) enforces redrafting. TransIt Tiger used with learners of English (In the labs follow Start…Programs…Applications…Lang and Ling Apps…Spanish or Italian…) provides glossary, hint and model example support for Eng writing done as translation from L1 Spanish, Italian etc.

Guidance on self-correcting/editing written work - Warwick site

The ‘templates’ available in some editions of  Microsoft Word provide outlines to fill in  for various formats of written text (business letter, dissertation, etc.)

Free composition done for teacher or self, with some support

Wordprocessing and printing out e.g. in Word, Kidworks2 (CD). This is the standard use of computers in writing, and generates research on how far it is conducive to good writing strategies, how far it is compatible with ‘process writing’ teaching, and how far it differs from writing with pen.

                        Writing with corpus access support

http://www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/r21270/concordwriter/ claims to promote ‘pushed output with i+1’ by providing this facility.

Free composition for publication/communication (e.g. on WWW)

The teacher publishes student work on WWW. Some ‘email projects’ are in effect of this type. G. Dudeney 2000 The Internet and the Language Classroom p133ff includes the idea of having students make their own webpages, not just have the teacher or someone else publish their writing on WWW.

Products can be seen on the ‘Student Work' links at the Lancaster WWW site. At  http://www.otan.us/webfarm/emailproject/email.htm you can read the products of various individual and class writing projects. Topics magazine displays a lot of written material by learners, done in class projects, about recipes, current issues etc. See also stories by kids at http://www.bconnex.net/~kidworld/

Ruth Vilmi organises ‘writing exchange’ – see the writing exchanges sections of http://www.ruthvilmi.net/hut/index.html :   ‘The International Writing Exchange (IWE) courses give students the opportunity to study English and exchange ideas on general and controversial topics with others from many other parts of the world. The courses are intended both for classes of students with their own teacher, and for individual students without a teacher. Teachers must register before their class can participate. Individual students will become members of an international class with a teacher from Ruth Vilmi Online Education Ltd as the teacher.’

Text reading tasks

Both extensive and intensive reading come under this head. There may be support in the form of glossaries of difficult words, dictionaries etc. and information hidden under hypertext links. The listening tasks supported by a reading text, covered later, can also be used for reading alone, or seen as reading supported by listening. READING: D. Crystal 2001 Language and the Internet ch7. Chapelle 2001 p69ff mentions research on incidental learning through reading on computer. N. Ikeda 1999 ‘Effects of different types of images on the understanding of stories’ System 27 (concerns the effect on comprehension of pictures added to internet reading material for learners of Japanese). Cobb and Vance 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL review a range of reading-related CALL software and concepts, and show how it can be connected with many cloze and other activities in various categories above. Ashworth 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL (esp. p86ff) gives a wideranging outline of hypertext, hyperdocuments and hypermedia.

Extensive reading, with self-guided exploration of connected texts possible

Some have support (esp. for vocab), and of course all could be treated as intensive reading as well. READING: Jones and Fortescue p32 (now rather out of date); M. Warschauer 1995 E-Mail for English Teaching ch6 suggests uses of online books, magazines, song lyrics etc.

Spanish Gold (BBC) provides a story for children with multiple threads and endings that can be chosen

The Call of the Wild (Jack London) supported by sound and concordance entries

Material in English in hypertext on the WWW generally is a vast source of extensive reading material connected by hyperlinks: it is up to the teacher (or learner) to seek out what is of interest. E.g. attractive material written for NS at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/homework/. Support is available separately in online dictionaries of course. Material written by learners themselves might be especially interesting to other learners.

The Englishclub http://reading.englishclub.com/ link has classic and news stories.

The ESL Reading Room (see ‘Headaches’ for an example of  hypertext support for reading);  many texts under Sport and News in BBC World Service - Learning English are suitable for extensive reading or intensive, with vocab support

Access to newspapers worldwide

                        Simplified reading text

Voice of America provides news and factual stories in (grammatically) simplified English (also with sound, see Listening below), Voice of America scripts has an archive of scripts supposedly within a vocab of 1500 words

Intensive reading with support

READING: Marina Orsini-Jones 1999 ‘Implementing institutional change for languages: online collaborative learning environments at Coventry University’ ReCALL journal 11,2 describes involving learners and teachers in the production of hypertext WWW reading materials. CREATION can be done readily in a webpage.

HYPER - efldemo (DOS), BBC World Service - Learning English – under Sport there are some scripts with comprehension tests attached.  http://www.manythings.org/reading/ha.html, Reading with Brazilian Portuguese hypertext support provide short texts with some support.

TransIt Tiger used by learners of French etc. (In the labs follow Start… Programs… Applications…Lang and Ling Apps…French…) in effect provides L2 texts with much support of reading for translation into L1.

Reading with comprehension and other follow-up exercises/tests

The writing Den, Comenius: Fluency Through Fables, Chase the ‘s’ (BBC)

                        Reading and predicting

READING: J. Higgins 1999 ‘Recognising coherence: the use of a text game to measure and reinforce awareness of coherence in text’ System 27. Higgins 1995 Computers and English Language Learning ch12 describes a predicting/inferring type program called CLOSE-UP or PINPOINT.

Sequitur (DOS) allows CREATION

Reading and unscrambling text

READING: T. Johns, W. Lixun 1999 ‘Four versions of a sentence-shuffling program’ System 27. Jones and fortescue p35. This sort of task can be CREATED simply in a wordprocessing program.

WWW example (needs plug-in)

Vera Mello's dialog reordering

                        Increasing reading speed

                        Jones and Fortescue p34.

            Rapid Reader (BBC) and Speed Reader (DOS). Also you can self-test at http://www.readingsoft.com/

Reading as a basis for followup writing and/or discussion

G. Dudeney 2000 The Internet and the Language Classroom ch2 has many activities that start with reading informative sites on WWW and have teacher-organised writing, speaking, discussion, question-answer role-play etc, activities (largely off computer) attached. Can be designed to involve note-taking, predicting, scanning for prespecified information etc… i.e. general ‘process reading’ teaching. The teacher CREATES the CALL activity by selecting the site and devising the surrounding activities.

            It’s up to you… find a website that would interest your students (about horoscopes, Britney, football, A collection of public signs to read…. you name it…) and devise a task using the information they read there….

The Hero's Journey site offers a particular type of adventure story to read, whose pattern you are encouraged to follow in writing a story of your own

            See also Wordstuff Reading Fun Demo (CD)

Electronic reading and writing resembling conversation

Several generic computer facilities (email, discussion lists, chatrooms/IRC etc.) allow for distinctively computer-based kinds of language use for real communication – types of ‘Computer mediated Communication’ (CMC). These are now regarded as requiring distinct kinds of communicative competence attracting study in their own right – maybe another skill beyond the usual four. Can be teacher controlled (e.g. with a set topic) or most often left free to learners to talk about whatever they want to (e.g. learner independent use of chatrooms at home). Can involve distant (and so cross-cultural, with all that entails) interaction over the internet or local within a school or class.

READING: Chapelle 2001 p20, p59-60 and p78ff, p88f  (evaluation of synchronous CMC projects of this type). Levy 1997 95-99, 170f. D. Crystal 2001 Language and the Internet (a linguist’s view of the features of English used). M-L Liaw 1998 ‘Using electronic mail for English as a foreign language instruction’ System 26  (within school, to unknown partners). Y. Li 2000 ‘Linguistic characteristics of ESL writing in task-based email activities’ (description of kinds of text written) System 28. Farid Aitsiselmi 1999 ‘Second language acquisition through email interaction’ ReCALL journal online 11,2. Tricia Coverdale-Jones 1998 ‘Does computer-mediated conferencing really have a reduced social dimension?’ ReCALL journal online 10,1 (considers gender and cultural aspects of CMC). M. Warschauer 1995 E-Mail for English Teaching ch3,4. Hoffman 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL and Phinney ibid p147ff. Teacher CREATION here is in setting up keypal arrangements for a class, and/or devising tasks for students to complete using email or chatrooms.

Communicative message writing (email)

G. Dudeney 2000 The Internet and the Language Classroom pp128-133.

There are many links for the learner to email other learners casually, or find more longstanding keypals, or for the teacher to set up such arrangements. E.g. links at the Lancaster WWW site , also at http://www.tesol.net/penpals/ and for kids at http://www.bconnex.net/~kidworld/ and generally Dave Sperling’s Message Exchange Board

International Tandem Network for learners to learn each others’ languages. READING: David Little and Ema Ushioda 1998 ‘Designing, implementing and evaluating a project in tandem language learning via e-mail’ ReCALL journal online 10,1.

A special case is teacher-pupil email exchanges. READING: M. Trenchs 1996 ‘Writing strategies in second language: three cases of learners using email’ The Canadian Modern Language Review 52

Communicative discussion (discussion lists)

Dave Sperling's Graffiti Wall for short messages

The Latrobe ESL Discussion List site for extended discussions on many specific themes

Communicative quasi-conversation (chat)

Dave Sperling's Chat Central ESL chat room, Chat rooms generally on WWW. Also see the MOOs described above under Simulations, as they usually allow chat.

Continuous listening

This means listening to something more than just individual words or isolated sentences…. An activity we are familiar with delivered by audiotape in class or in the traditional ‘language laboratory’. On WWW sites mostly rely on you having RealPlayer installed (free download). READING: Jones and Fortescue ch11. Hao-Jan Howard Chen 1999 ‘Creating a virtual language lab: an EFL experience at National Taiwan Ocean University’ ReCALL journal online 11,2 discusses the problems of using available WWW listening resources and a make-it yourself computerized quasi-language lab solution. In fact Tandberg and other manufacturers supply fully computerised language laboratories ready made (at a large cost…). We have one in Lab L, which I hope to have demonstrated to us sometime: the familiar facilities for the teacher to intervene, monitor, organise pair work and so on, and for the learner to listen and imitate and replay are recreated, but with those old audiotapes replaced by digital files, and integrated with multimedia etc. facilities.

                        Extensive listening, unsupported

                                    Interesting Things to Listen to for ESL students on the Web      

                                    Daily program in http://www.letstalk.com.tw/lt/lt0303/

                        Listening to text read slow with simplified vocab

Streamed Voice of America audio, ‘Listening conversations’ in Smart Start English (CD) with tortoise option

Listening supported with reading text, translation etc.

‘Interactive Story’ in Learn English with Asterix (CD), Some ‘Exercise’/’Tutorial’ material in Getting the Message (CD), ‘Adventure game’ in Adventures in Speaking English (CD). English Your Way (CD) delivers conversation turn by turn with pictures and text.

Read as you hear a text sentence by sentence with synthesised speech (requires Speaks for Itself plug-in)

BBC World Service extracts,  The PBS Online News; http://listening.englishclub.com/

Listening comprehension check/test without support

Smalltalk gets a mention in Begoña Montero Fleta, Carmen Pérez Sabater, Luz Gil Salom, Cristina Pérez Guillot, Carmen Soler Monreal and Edmund Turney 1999 ‘Evaluating multimedia programs for language learning: a case study’ ReCALL journal online 11,3

Some exercises in Getting the Message (CD), ‘Quiz’ in Learn English with Asterix (CD), some more advanced material in Rosetta Stone (CD), One option in Smalltalk3 (CD)

Listening comprehension with support and prelistening and/or post listening comprehension exercise/test

The English Listening Lounge, Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

California Distance Learning project, CNN story of the week

‘Listening conversation’ in Smart Start English (CD), Most of the listening CDs mentioned above have this option too

Listen and complete cloze text at the same time

                        Listening with video, with support and comprehension exercise/test

            This matches/extends on computer the familiar use of videocassette with VCR and TV in language teaching. However, video remains very memory intensive and a challenge to deliver in quantity on computer or access in real time from the WWW. It may or may not allow the user to halt the play, to access the text in written captions etc. READING: Chapelle 2001 p69ff (research on incidental learning through listening with video on computer). P. Harben 1999 ‘An exercise in applying pedagogical principles to multimedia CALL materials design’ ReCALL journal online 11,3 (implementation of activities like those recommended in the general literature on video in language teaching). Prof Lavington of Computer science had a project on this: interactive teaching material based on video clips, made available on a computer network rather than, as hitherto, by a teacher with a video player in a classroom.

CNN story of the week http://literacynet.org/cnnsf/week.html has video with listening and exercises

Speaking (with listening)

This covers speaking more than just individual words. It is arguable that many CALL activities not basically categorised as speaking ones above can have a speaking element, where they are done by pairs or groups of learners who speak in TL off screen (a claim often made for simulations, and for followup activities to reading on WWW). READING: A wideranging discussion of CALL and speaking in Pennington and Eslings article 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL.

Listening and speaking and comparing with a model

Some exercises in Getting the Message (CD), ‘Recording’ in Learn English with Asterix (CD), Smalltalk3 (CD) (see review above under listening), Smart Start English ‘Speaking conversations’ (CD). See the TELL products Encounters Spanish, French, and other languages (but not English) for learners of those languages (In the labs follow Start…Programs…Applications…Lang and Ling Apps…Spanish or Italian etc…)

                         Listening and speaking conversation with real addressees in real time

            This is what normally happens when we use the telephone. However, there are computerised versions of this – i.e. speaking on the telephone via computer, maybe with video of the other person and a chat-like text messaging system available at the same time (audio-conferencing, video-conferencing). See for example Markus Kötter, Lesley Shield and Anne Stevens 1999 ‘Real-time audio and email for fluency: promoting distance language learners’ aural and oral skills via the Internet’ ReCALL journal online 11,2.

Using reference sources to find out about language

This category of course is often used by teachers to check their own language, help create materials etc., as much as by learners (who would need to be advanced to use much of this). READING: Chapelle 2001 p82 discusses research on what learners benefit from explicit rules provided by CALL.

Reading about English grammar (often including some vocab matters too, and with accompanying exercises)

Cf what Higgins says about grammar teaching with CALL (here of the ‘instructional’ type) in Computers and English Language Learning p8ff

The Grammar ROM (CD),  http://grammar.englishclub.com/  and a lot at  http://vocabulary.englishclub.com/, ‘Grammar’ in English Your Way (CD), http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/index.cfm

The UCL internet grammar of English, Miss Janssen's Grammar

A writer oriented account

                        Reading about English pronunciation


‘Lesson’ in Adventures in Speaking English (CD), Some material in Accent Coach (CD)

                        Reading about English spelling and letters


                        Asking an expert about grammar, vocab etc. problems

Some Discussion lists. Also the  ‘Grammar Guru’ at http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/index.cfm (no longer free) and ‘Vocab Val’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/youmeus/learnit/learnit_archive.shtml answers to queries

Dictionary access

James Singleton, John Keane and Blaise Nkwenti-Azeh 1998 ‘CALL meets software engineering: towards a multimedia conceptual dictionary’ ReCALL journal online 10,2. Ashworth 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p83ff.

Longman interactive English dictionary (CD)

The ITESLJ site has a good list of useful dics of all sorts available on the WWW as does http://www.hull.ac.uk/cti/langsite/tefl.html - dictionaries. Some useful alternative ways of accessing words are to be found in Dictionary allowing search for all definitions containing a given word, http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/REFERENCE.htm

Many basic bilingual dictionary resources are free online, e.g. Japanese-English  http://linear.mv.com/cgi-bin/j-e/dict, English-Chinese http://www.ok88.com/go/svc/ecdict.html

Dictionary use skills training at the Warwick site.

Many electronic dictionaries of course are not free online, but have to be purchased, e.g. http://www.worldlanguage.com/Products/30857.htm

                        Reading about general English language topics (accents, history, etc.)

                                    Some items at Language Watch - Learning English - BBC World Service

                        Reading about English cultural topics

http://members.lycos.co.uk/missjanssens/BACKGROUND.htm, also http://www.ohiou.edu/esl/project/history.html

Language awareness tasks

These are about language rather than in language, but involve some activity other than just reading about it. Some of the Reference Source references above have such exercises attached too.

Grammar - Parts of speech identification

Jones and Fortescue p33.

Gramdef for various languages (In the labs follow Start…Programs…Applications…Lang and Ling Apps…)

 A POS sorting exercise

                        Grammar, vocab, punctuation, style etc. error spotting

                                    Writing Exercises for Engineers and Scientists include a lot of metalinguistic explanation

                        Corpus based word/grammar study, or use as writing/reading checking aid

            This can border on teaching students linguistics rather than language. It includes activities like: student ‘serendipity’ study of a word or some grammatical point (like uses of –ing) on their own initiative; student checking corpus examples and correcting vocab marked by the teacher as wrong in a composition they have written; student checking a new word met when reading to obtain more examples of it in use in a corpus as a basis to guess the meaning from; student is set to inductively find a ‘rule’ e.g. for the uses of should, or what distinguishes the words persuade and convince by getting some corpus examples and analysing them. READING: J. Flowerdew 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p106-9; Chapelle 2001 p10, 37-8, 64/5 evaluates grammar awareness using a concordance from a corpus; Osborne 2000 ‘What can students learn from a corpus?’ and A. Hahn ‘Grammar at its best’ and S. Bernardini ‘Systematising serendipity’ all in ed Burnard and McEnery Rethinking Language Pedagogy from a Corpus Perspective (Peter Lang). Also G. Aston 1997 ‘Enriching the learner environment’ and L. Gavioli ‘Exploring texts through the concordancer’ and T. Johns ‘Contexts’ in ed Wichmann et al Teaching and Language Corpora (Longman). Tribble and Jones esp. ch 5. CREATION: there are corpora readily available… the teacher simply has to design the task for the students to do with it, with due attention to their level, needs etc. The teacher can simplify things by not letting the students access the corpus direct but making it an offline task where only the teacher uses the corpus.

Bilingual Multiconcord (Windows floppydisk), Various English corpus sources are readily available, and some of my suggested tasks would suit some learners direct

Search for words in Voice of America texts provides concordances of words used in simplified English contexts, which may be good for non-advanced learners

                        Pronunciation, transcription etc. of individual sounds and suprasegmentals

‘Pronunciation games’ and ‘Learn to pronounce with Sammy’ options in Adventures in Speaking English (CD), Accent Coach for Japanese learners of English (CD)

Reading about / raising awareness of language learning/using/study skills (often with exercises)

I.e. material designed to train learners to learn, use better strategies when reading and writing etc., be more aware of these things etc. READING: Hilary Nesi 1998 ‘Using the Internet to teach English for academic purposes’ ReCALL journal online 10,1 describes and evaluates the Warwick site which covers various aspects of this.

Language learning

Englishspace example - memory methods

Reading skills

Warwick material

A Critical reading guide for reading poetry

                        Listening skills

Much ‘Introduction’ and ‘Tutorial’ material in Getting the Message (CD) is about listening in the specific situation of taking telephone messages

                        Speaking skills


                        Writing skills, types of writing, how to compose, revise etc.

            These typically contain a lot of wise text about how to write, including often basic grammar and punctuation guides as well.

Paradigm Online Writing Assistant is a guide with some practical exercises; http://writing.englishclub.com/

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab =OWL offers material to read and online tutorials

Writer's Web at http://writing.richmond.edu/writing/wweb.html has an index of terms and concepts

Online Resources for Writers has a lot of onward links

Nuts and Bolts of College Writing http://www.nutsandboltsguide.com/  

The Daedalus Group

Writing Tips Contents-Writing DEN http://www2.actden.com/writ_den/tips/contents.htm


Computers in the language teaching ‘backroom’ rather than directly for the learners’ use. Computer applications related to several of the above areas exist that are useful as much if not more for the teacher or other language teaching professional than directly for the student.

First, obviously computers help the teacher etc. if they want to create their own CALL materials for learners, not just evaluate and select from what is available and use it sensibly. Word, or more sophisticatedly, Frontpage help with the creation of webpages. Authoring packages or authoring options within packages help the teacher put his/her own words/ text etc in a task for learners. See my simple suggestions on what teachers can do.

But the computer is also crucial these days in supporting non-computer aspects of teaching. I.e. the computer may help in areas like coursebook / materials development, compilation of reference sources, and by providing feedback to the teacher to guide teaching in a day to day way (similar to formative testing/assessment). This all can therefore ‘assist’ language learning indirectly:

·        Software that runs simple closed exercises like multiple choice, matching tasks, cloze exercises, text reconstruction etc. does, or could easily, keep records for the teacher of the scores obtained by learners as they use the software… and even time taken, numbers of tries, wrong answers picked, numbers of uses of the ‘cheat’ options, etc. This could guide the teacher in revision work to do with a class.

·        Software connected with text writing may analyse the learner’s text and collect information for the teacher about the nature of the students’ writing, e.g. E. Dagneaux et al. 1998 ‘Computer aided error analysis’ System 26 (concerns feedback for teacher benefit). This could guide remedial work. Otherwise, the teacher can simply make his/her own corpus of their learners’ writing, by assembling copies of all their wordprocessed assignments (or email messages), and treat it as a minicorpus which they analyse with corpus software to identify common errors to work on (e.g. Tribble; Flowerdew 2000 ‘Investigating referential and pragmatic errors in a learner corpus’ in ed Burnard and McEnery Rethinking Language Pedagogy from a Corpus Perspective.)

·        D. Coniam 1999 ‘Voice recognition software with second language speakers of English’ System 27 describes an attempt to get the computer to analyse learners’ spoken output for the benefit of the teacher. But this presents far more challenges than analysing written output.

·        Many of the sources under ‘Using reference sources’ above may usefully be used by the teacher to check their own knowledge, accuracy of aspects of materials they are making etc.

·        The teacher can devise many activities around material printed in advance from general informative WWW sites for use in hardcopy (e.g. many in G. Dudeney 2000 The Internet and the Language Classroom ch2).

·        Corpora of authentic native speaker language can be exploited as much, if not more, by the teacher or other language education professional than directly by the learner (who has to be rather advanced and sophisticated to use most of them). They are a source of information of a ‘descriptive linguistic’ type … and clearly accurate descriptive information about language is a necessary basis for teachers and other pedagogical professionals to draw on (some of my suggested corpus tasks would be done by teachers etc. rather than learners).

1.      To verify the teacher’s own intuitions about how a word or grammatical construction is used (e.g. J. Flowerdew 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p103f).

2.      To help a teacher make tasks and materials. J. Flowerdew 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p105f; H. Collins 2000 ‘Materials design and language corpora: a report in the context of distance education’ in ed Burnard and McEnery Rethinking Language Pedagogy from a Corpus Perspective (business English). E. Wilson  ‘The automatic generation of CALL exercises from general corpora’ in ed Wichmann et al Teaching and Language Corpora (Longman) and Tribble and Jones esp. ch 4 show how many exercises like those covered above for learners, whether done in computer or non-computer form by students, can be compiled by the teacher with corpus help (e.g. gapfilling and matching tasks, self-checking of errors in writing). Usually ready made corpora like the BNC can be used, but teachers may also make a NS specialist corpus of their own to draw on (e.g. of business letters as a source for materials for business students). S. Conrad 1999 ‘The importance of corpus-based research for language teachers’ System 27 shows how the teacher can even use research done by others with corpora rather than go to corpora directly (e.g. Biber et al. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, or Leech, Rayson and Wilson Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English). All this adds to the authenticity of the language in the classroom.

3.      Coursebook writers are beginning to include corpus chunks in various ways, rather than write their own examples, reading texts etc. in supposedly authentic English. There is some research on how ‘coursebook writer English’ differs from ‘real’ English.

4.      Syllabus writers have often drawn on frequency as a guiding principle, especially for vocab (i.e. they may order the introduction of vocab into a course roughly in order from more to less frequent on the grounds that that this reflects a word’s importance). Frequency was counted by hand in old corpora like that used as a basis for West’s General Service List of English Words. This can now be guided by modern corpora searched electronically, e.g. Willis and the COBUILD English Course. J. Flowerdew 1996 in ed. Pennington The Power of CALL p110f

5.      Dictionary makers now rely heavily on corpora to check their statements of fact about meaning, grammar, collocation etc., and to supply authentic examples etc.

6.      Grammar book writers are using more and more corpus insights. E.g. D. Mindt 1997 ‘Corpora and the teaching of English in Germany’ in ed Wichmann et al Teaching and Language Corpora (Longman), and the entire Biber et al. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English project.

·        Corpora also exist of non-native speaker language that a teacher or materials writer could draw on, as a source of information on learners’ errors. However I have not found any readily accessible.

·        Many websites like those listed at the start of my Intro have teaching tips, discussion lists, reviews of books and software, online teaching journals etc. aimed at helping teachers do their job better. M. Warschauer 1995 E-Mail for English Teaching ch2 describes some potentials for teacher use of email and internet for collaboration. G. Dudeney 2000 The Internet and the Language Classroom p150ff.