Computer Assisted Writing Learning: Applied Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" Shin (2006) Shin also states that the CMC literature "illustrates shifts of focus to different layers of context." Early on, research relating to CMC in language learning and teaching looked at the linguistic content of CMC text to examine how language learners could improve certain communication functions and learn linguistic figures through CMC activities (Blake, 2000; Chun, 1994; Kern, 1995; Ortega, 1997; Pellettieri, 2000; Smith 2000, Sotlillo, 2000; Toyoda & Harrison, 2002, Tudini, 2003; Warschauer, 1996) Recent studies of "tellecollaborative projects have examined how language learners jointly construct the contexts of their CMC activities, as part of their focus on tensions among intercultural communication partners. (Belz, 2003, 2003; Kramsch & Thorn, 2002; O'Dowd, 2003; Ware 2000, War & Kramsch, 2005) IN the study of Shin (2006) which was "informed by Ware's (2005) examination of a tellecollaborative communication project between American college students and German students" Shin (2006) looks into "how a group of ESL students co-constructed online interactions of synchronous CMC practices within the dynamics of their group while engaging with contextual elements of their CMC activities." Specifically examined is how the "students construed and configured the context of their online interactions by constructing online discourses." (Shin, 2006) Shin states that explored are the questions of: (1) What kinds of interactional patterns are a group of ESL students jointly constructing? (2) What kinds of interactions norms are the ESL students establishing within computer-mediated social interactions; and (3) How do the ESL students utilize CMC activities for their linguistic, social and academic goals? (2006) Shin notes the work of Ochs, 1990; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986; and Willett, 1995 stating that "Learner's construction of their learning context is based on the affordances they make regarding learning activities that are intertwined with language socialization." (Shin, 2006) Shin's (2006) study was an "ethnographic case study....conducted in an intermediate adult ESL class with 16 students at a university in the northeastern United States. The class was affiliated with a university language program serving pr9imarily international graduate students, visiting scholars and their spouses. (2006) The findings of Shin's (2006) study state that: "Participants...reported such constraints as fast turn formation, written text as a main type of communication and discontinuous communication with disrupted interactions." (2006) Also reported were "opportunities/benefits such as being free from the need to share physical space, no need to worry about pronunciation, and the ability to review ways of speaking such as the saved chat dialogues for their language learning. Because the participants were not familiar with the interactions that was some complaints of these interactional features which caused some frustration and confusion. Shin states that "In sociocultural theory, learning is a process that entails not only internalization of the knowledge of the learning task, but also transforming and using the internalized knowledge for other purposes in the process of development (Gross, Smagorinsky, & Valencia, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978)." (2006)

It is stated that: "This type of learning process is one that places emphasis on "the learner's role in social practices that involves the formulated, tool-mediated, goal-oriented actions. The ways in which the ESL students reconstructed and utilized the social practices of their CMC activities represented sociocultural perspectives of language learning in that they used CMC practices for different purposes that reflected needs emanating from roles in their lives. IN particular, their professional roles indicated how the participants drew on the CMC meetings." (2006) IN fact it was how the participants "restructured and utilized their CMC activities for their life goals" which demonstrated the "complexity of understanding CMC uses in language education in relation to social, cultural, linguistic, material, and discursive contents." (Shin, 2006) contributing to previous studies of CMC contexts, this study contends that one also needs to see the configured context co-constructed by language learners to fully capture the complexity of CMC practices, since the context for any learning activity is an interconnected relationship among contextual elements of the learning environment that learners configure for learning tasks. This perspective of context is anchored to ecological perspectives of language learning (Kramsch, 2002; Leather & van Dam, 2003; van Lier, 2000, 2002), which allow researchers and teachers to avoid rigid conceptions of learning and its contexts. Ecologically exploring the ways in which learning contexts are jointly configured within group dynamics by participants illustrates their identities/subjectivities regarding co-constructed norms, rules, and goals, as well as specific interests and concerns embedded in their language socialization processes through CMC. Ecological perspectives are not only concerned with participants' online lives, but their offline lives, too. Examining how language learners carry their interests and life stories over to online language learning spaces requires more research into how online and offline lives of participants are interconnected, while shaping affordances regarding their CMC activities (Lam, 2000, 2004; Leander & McKim, 2003; Ware, 2005)." (2006)

The work entitled: "Technology-Enhanced Language Learning: Hype or Goldmine?" states that Multimedia or the "combination of text, audio, and pictures on a single 'platform' seems to hold "great potential for language teaching. At its best it should combine the benefits of 'conventional Computer-Assisted Language Learning (text reconstruction exercises, tests, games, et c) with those of video, together with the advantage of being able to jump instantly to the desired frame rather than having to rely on the rewind or fast forward keys." (Eastment, n.d.) Eastment further states that: "If language is communication, then any technology which links together computers so that learners can 'talk' to each other must be worth investigating." (n.d.) Through use of the Internet one is able to communicate with individuals, groups and establish live communication in 'real-time' conversations. (Eastment, n.d.)

The work of Fryer and Carpenter (2006) entitled: "Emerging Technologies: Bots as Language Learner Tools" published in the Journal of Language Learning Technology states that: "Technology is opening up many new possibilities for language learning, and the internet has enormous potential. As Benson (2001) describes it."..the internet is also so strongly supportive of two basic situational conditions for self-directed learning: learners can study whenever they want using a potentially unlimited range of authentic materials" (p. 139)." (2006) Stated additionally is that: "One area the internet has opened up is the use of chatterbots for language practice. "A chatterbot is a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods." (Wikipedia, Chatterbot, 2006). A bot is "a software program that imitates the behavior of a human, as by querying search engines or participating in chatroom or IRC discussions" (The American Heritage® Dictionary, 2000, para. 1). It is important here to point out that the above reference to "conversation" does not mean speech. All references in this paper to 'talking to a bot' concern typed, textual input." (Fryer & Carpenter, 2006)

Joseph Weizenbaum created the program ELIZA in the early 1960s which was a computer program with a design for interaction with an individual typing in English. "The software gave the appearance of understanding and authentic interaction, but relied on keywords and phrases to which it had programmed responses. The software could not really understand the conversation taking place but could appear very human-like. Its communication was based on a kind of 1960's psychoanalysis called "Rogerian analysis." The program simply asked questions based on what the person typed in (Weizenbaum, 1966). In the forty years that followed, computing power rose in step with Moore's Second Law of Computing Power and a variety of new computer languages were written. Both of these factors strengthened the generations of chatbots created since the 60s. The conception of the internet in the 60s and its exponential growth, beginning in the late 80s and continuing to this day, encouraged the creation of many more chatbots and made it possible for anyone to talk to them online." (Fryer & Carpenter, 2006)

Fryer & Carpenter state that while "this kind of conversation may be a positive challenge for some accomplished students, it is not good for students who have yet to master the basics. In addition, chatbots are generally incapable of interpreting spelling and grammar mistakes or are poor at it. Therefore, they do not always meet beginner students' needs." (2006) Mentioned as strong points of the chatbots are their "convenience, being readily available to students with computer access" whether at home or at school and "they are ready to chat when and wherever students are" as well as generally "being free or chap via subscription." (Ibid) Fryer & Carpenter state that "Chatbots usefulness goes far beyond their price and convenience" in six different ways as follows: (1) Students tend to feel more relaxed talking to a computer them to a person. In 2004 85% of 211 first and second year, mixed major university students, when asked whether they felt more comfortable talking to a human or computer on a questionnaire taken after using ALICE for 20 minutes during class, chose the chatbot. (2) The chatbots are willing to repeat the same material with students endlessly; they do not get bored…

Sources Used in Document:


Introduction to Computational Linguistics (2006) Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Lusnia, Karen B. (1000) Teaching Teachers Long-Distance: A Paradigm-Shift for the Teacher-Planner in Mexico - Applied Linguistics. Paper presented at the International Conference on Language Teacher Education.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1981). Excerpts from discourse in the novel. In M. Holquist (Ed.), The dialogic imagination: Four essays by M.M. Bakhtin. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Bateson, G. (2000). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press.

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