Emerging technologies and language learning: mining the past to transform the future

Hubbard, Philip. (2023) Emerging technologies and language learning: mining the past to transform the future.  Journal of China Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 2-19.

This article is a personal reflection on the lessons the author, has learned over four decades of teaching and research in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).

In the article, Dr. Hubbard begins by offering a simple model of technology-mediated language learning, developed through his experiences and reflection on using technology as an instructor.  This model illustrates what he describes as the elements of a technology mediation system, and how interactions through technology are influenced by that technology, and how technology can support and indeed sometimes impede language learning. He concludes, “… teachers, researchers and developers need to go beyond surface affordances and do what they can to take into account the potential elements of the technology mediation system on the learners as they engage in interactions.”

He then goes on to review seven experiences from his work in CALL, beginning in the 1980’s, which ultimately shaped his teaching, research and professional activities. These include software evaluation, computer games for language learning, learner training and using MALL.

Finally, he offers for consideration a set of guiding principles based on his own learning and insights gained over several decades as a language instructor and researcher as follows :

  1. Consider the mediational properties of the technology you want to use and how they relate to the learning goals.
  2. Be sure to understand how an application or technology-based task works before judging its value. When you do judge it, consider it from the perspective of how it fits both you and your students.
  3. Avoid hype—be especially skeptical of unsupported claims about emerging technologies.
  4. Seek out relevant research and practice literature but read it critically.
  5. Teach reflectively with technology. Plan thoughtfully, monitor what is happening with your students while they are using technology, and especially reflect afterwards. Encourage your students to do the same to improve their use of that technology for future learning.
  6. Take time and make the effort to train your students to use technology more effectively for language learning.

Retrievable from: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/jccall-2023-0003/html