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Tool mediation in Focus on Form activities: case studies in a grammar-exploring environment
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2007 (English)In: ReCALL, ISSN 0958-3440, Vol. 19, no 1, 39-56 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present two case studies of two different pedagogical tasks in a Computer Assisted Language Learning environment called Grim. The main design principle in Grim is to support ‘Focus on Form’ in second language pedagogy. Grim contains several language technology-based features for exploring linguistic forms (static, rule-based and statistical), intended to be used while writing. Our question is, in what ways does Grim support Focus on Form in actual classroom use. We have explored this question within sociocultural theory, emphasizing tool mediation and how tools shape the learner’s activity. The first case concerns a text-reconstruction exercise in which students worked in a pair within the Grim environment. The second case was conducted with another group of students, who engaged in collaborative revision of texts, written in advance by one of the students, in student pairs. In both studies, students were instructed and encouraged to use the different features of Grim. Data was collected by recording dialogue during the sessions with Grim. Our results show how learners put the features of Grim into use in their writing tasks. In some instances, the program was used creatively, in combination with external tools such as the users’ own dictionaries, knowledge of other languages, or teachers. In other instances, we note that Grim was used for error correction, rather than as a language resource. The learners’ activities are thus transformed by their use of the program, from the tasks of revision and text-reconstruction into error correction. The application shapes the activity, in conjunction with the pedagogical tasks. We argue for studying the activities of students with CALL tools, in order to find out in detail how tasks and technology concur in use and what view on language and pedagogy they mediate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 19, no 1, 39-56 p.
Keyword [en]
sociocultural theory; mediation; Focus on Form; collaborative learning; language technology; natural language processing
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25736DOI: 10.1017/S0958344007000419OAI: diva2:200394
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8508Available from: 2009-02-12 Created: 2009-02-06 Last updated: 2010-03-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. CALL of the Wild: Using language technology in the second language classroom
Open this publication in new window or tab >>CALL of the Wild: Using language technology in the second language classroom
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Technology that analyzes written human language displays compelling possibilities for computer assisted language learning (CALL). Applications may be designed to examine second language students’ free text production in order to suggest improvements, draw attention to selected linguistic elements, provide examples from native language use, etc. However, language technology is not free from issues. Output from the tools is occasionally inaccurate, and the tools’ emphasis on language structure stands in possible contrast with pedagogies that foreground the social nature of language.

These difficulties cannot be resolved by improving technology alone. It is equally important to find out in empirical detail how students handle possibly problematic directions from particular tools, and how tasks and teacher guidance may affect students’ tool usage. This thesis provides detailed analyses of applied CALL activities with a language tool, in order to discern how usage of that particular tool occurs, and how complex interrelationships of tool and context of use direct students.

The thesis makes six interrelated contributions, ranging from particular empirical results to implications for general theory and methodology in CALL. On the level of theory, the thesis 1) provides an argument to reintroduce language technology in CALL, and 2) suggests grounding in sociocultural theory for investigating second language classroom CALL as it unfolds. From these standpoints, it 3) develops methodology and empirical studies on the use of a particular tool in the hands of students in class. The studies result in 4) illuminations of problems in use and means to avoid these problems by attending to classroom setting. Returning to general theory, the results provide 5) evidence that the introduction of novel tools demands more than merely providing technology for students and teachers, suggesting 6) a need for more detailed considerations of how CALL tools are introduced to students.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kista: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (together with KTH), Stockholm University, 2009. 75 p.
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 09-003
Computer Assisted Language Learning, Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, Language Technology, Sociocultural Theory
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Man-Machine-Interaction (MMI)
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8508 (URN)978-91-7155-799-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-03-05, sal D, Forum, Isafjordsgatan 39, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-02-12 Created: 2009-02-06 Last updated: 2010-10-21Bibliographically approved

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