CALL and its strengths vs. weaknesses and advantages vs. disadvantages

January 20, 2009 aminudin241072




Submitted to fulfill the MID TEST of ITC in Language Learning

By: Aminudin

Lecturer: Hartoyo, MA, Ph.D.

Computers have been used for language teaching since the 1960s. During the history of using computer for language teaching has three stages. They are behavioristic CALL, communicative CALL, and integrative CALL. Each stage corresponds to a certain level of technology as well as a certain pedagogical approach.

1. Behavioristic CALL

This stage conceived in the 1950s and implemented in the 1960s and 1970s, could be considered a sub-component of the broader field of computer-assisted instruction. Informed by the behaviorist learning mode, this model of CALL featured repetitive language drills, referred to as drill and-practice. In this paradigm , especially popular in the United States, the computer was viewed as mechanical tutor which never grow tired or judgmental and allowed students to work at an individual pace. Though behaviorist CALL eventually gravitated to the personal computer, it was first designed and implemented in the era of the mainframe. The best-known and featured extensive drills, grammatical explanations, and translation tests at various intervals (Ahmad,Corbett, Rogers, & Sussex,1985).

2. Communicative CALL.

Emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at the same time that behavioristic approaches to language teaching were being rejected at both the theoretical and pedagogical level, and when new personal computers were creating greater possibilities should focus more on using forms than on the forms themselves, teach grammar implicitly rather than implicitly, allow and encourage students to generate original utterances rather than just manipulate prefabricated language, and use the target language predominantly or even exclusively (Jones & Fortes cue, 1978;Phillips, 1987; Underwood, 1984).Communicative CALL corresponded to cognitive theories which stressed that learning was a process of discovery, expression, and development. Popular CALL software developed in this period included text reconstruction programs (which allowed students working alone or in groups to rearrange words and texts to discover patterns of language and meaning ) and simulations (which stimulated discussion and discovery among students working in pairs or groups). For many proponents of communicative CALL, the focul was not so much on what students did with the machine, but rather what they with each other while working at the computer.

3. Integrative CALL.

Integrative CALL is the combination and improvement of the behavioristic CALL and communicative CALL. In this stage many teachers were moving away from a cognitive view of communicative teaching to a more social or socio-cognitive view, which placed greater emphasis on language use in authentic social authentic environments, and also to integrate the various skills of language learning and use. This stage led to a new perspective on technology and language learning. (Warschauer, 1996b), a perspective which seeks both to integrate various skills ( e.g., listening, speaking , reading, and writing ) and also integrate technology more fully into the language learning process. In integrative approaches, students learn to use a variety of technological tools as an on going process of language learning and use, rather than visiting the computer lab on a once a week basis for isolated exercises (whether the exercises be behavioristic or communicative).


In the modern era, the development of the information and technology is very fast in any kind of fields. The development of information and technology is not only applied in the field of business, industry, trade, but also in the field of education. This is one of the effect of the developing in educational field become more significant. In the process of learning in the classroom the students are not merely to interact to the teacher or other tools, but students can be able to study by computer. By learning by computer the students can get beneficent from the availability of the computer. They don’t study monotonously but they could improve the creativity, the way of thinking, and imagination of the students become wider without dependency to the teacher because teacher roles have also changed with the times. Teachers are rarely the sole source of language information in these days of global interconnectedness, and the literary corpus that may have been the basis of their foreign language training is not the only body of knowledge worth learning. The assumption from cognitive theory is that teachers do not pour information from their store into the heads of waiting and willing students, but that students actively interpret and organize the information they are given, fitting it into prior knowledge or revising prior knowledge in the light of that they have learned (Van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983; Dole et al., 1991). As a result of all these changes, the teacher has become a facilitator of learning rather than the font of wisdom, and will find, select, and offer information in a variety of ways on the basis of what their students must learn in order to meet diverse needs.

The present of the teacher is only as a facilitator for the students to use the media of computer. As facilitators, teacher must in many ways know more than they would as directive givers of information. Facilitators must be aware of a variety of material available for improving students’ language skill, not just one or two texts. They also need to know how to teach learners to use the material effectively. Teachers as facilitators have to be able to respond to the needs that students have, not just what has been set up ahead of time based on a curriculum developer’s idea of who will be in the classroom. Teacher training is a key element to success in this more flexible language classroom., so that teachers can use multimedia and other resources effectively.

Teachers conduct teaching learning process through a computer as a medium. Computer can be a good medium to help the students learn English in an easier and interesting way. Through a computer, students can learn more than the language itself, they will be given a chance to know more about the language.

Learning language using computer has been started from several years ago. Computer has been well known in the modern countries such as America, Germany, Japan, Australia and other European countries. Learning language by using computer is called Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). CALL is one of the media to study language by computer.

With the whole strengths and usefulness of CALL offer the students study language more effective and full of fun. But on the other hand CALL also has disadvantages and negative effect. Because of that I would like to share my knowledge to the reader about the strengths vs. weaknesses and advantages vs. disadvantages of learning English by using computer (CALL).


  1. Computer is a tool or medium to access the sources of knowledge from the wide world. It means that we can get many kind of information and knowledge from computer. As students that want to improve their knowledge and information are suggested to use computer. There are some knowledge that can get from the computer such as; art, science, technology, music, information, entertainment, game, quiz, even the students can communicate with other people in a long distance by using internet facilitation on computer.

2. Computer is flexible to anyone to study for. When the students can not come to the class because of illness or something, it is no problem is nothing for studying by computer. they are still able to study if the computer is available. Or the students can come any time, and spend as long as is needed to gain full benefit from the material. It is supported by Hiltz (1994:10) that students may participate at any time of the day or night that they have the time and the inclination. Opportunities for feedback from the instructor and interaction with other students are not limited to a few fixed times per week.

3. Computer can give encouragement and motivation to the students for learning. Hope, et all, (1984) claim that a well designed foreign language lesson on the computer can motivate students. This is due to the computer’s ability to present material in more diverse ways than either a book or video does.

  1. Computer is also has potential to develop the skill of communication in the second language. Ahmad, et al (1985:4) argued that computers can offer interactive learning. This implies that it is possible to conduct a two-way learning session, both the student and computer may interact with each other. This makes the computer power interaction than a programmed textbook. Besides that computer can give feedback in learning because it can give responds and the correct answers. Meanwhile when the students can’t answer the questions correctly, the computer will give a sign or respond directly. And the computer will give a chance to re answer the question.

5. Computer is suitable for the era of development of information and technology. Computer is one of the product of the development technology. It offers the students to taste and to use the modern tool. It is already a custom for every student is supposed to be able to operate the computer. Because of that when the student are not familiar with the computer they will be left behind.

  1. It is easy to operate the computer as long as the students can follow the right procedure which is lead them to utilize it. The procedure is made as simply as possible in order the students can utilize the computer easily. When the students get difficulties to operate any program in learning the language, they can open the guide book to solve the problem.


1. To operate the computer needs electricity. It will cause the problems to the remote area which has no electricity. It may happen in the developing country or in suburb area whose no electricity. That’s why most of the students in the suburb which has no electricity is less of knowing the advantages in the usage of computer in educational field.

  1. Computer can not be brought to any places the students like. They can’t enjoy learning in certain places in any kind of the situation. For example when they want to study while laying down on the bed, or on the bus because they can’t bring computer or risky to operate the computer there. Even more when the students want to study while doing something in bed, walking, or standing in line while waiting for the turn. It is not like a note book which can be brought to any places that we want because it is small enough to carry around and study wherever and whenever students wish, on a train, on a bus, at home, in the middle of the night, or in a dentist’s waiting room (Anzel et al, 1992)

3. Furthermore, at current time a part of students do not have a computer set at home; therefore, they just used computers available in their schools in which the opening hours are very restricted. Of course with this kind of condition the target language which is learnt meets the hindrance.

  1. Besides that, CALL is costly enough for the programmers or teachers. A lot of funds have to be provided to buy some equipments, design programs, and for its maintenance. The school with limited budget will find some obstacles in funding the CALL program. To create a program of CALL must have at least forty computers for one class capacity. Of course, lots of money needed for building computer laboratory. A lot of money is also needed to train teachers, especially English teachers, since there are only a few of English teachers who can operate computers as well as its new software.


1. Computer (CALL) can help the teacher and the student do the task faster in the proper condition. For example when a teacher is going to make a quiz or task which is going to be given to the students, he is only write and print it in a few minute in well printed. Also when the student is going to make an assignment for his students, he is only open the computer and write it. After that it could be saved in computer when the teacher will check the task by computer or printed it. Beside that the users teacher and students may also arrange the text or the job as they want with the advantages of any setting which are available on the computer.

2. Computer (CALL) encourages the students to develop a non sequential reading habit, which it is hoped will carry over to reading tasks with traditional, printed material. (Ansel, et al, 1992). It allows users to make their own decisions to develop a selective and critical reading habit which enabl4es them to scan a large amount of information (topic) of their interest.

  1. Computer (CALL) offers freedom for students to choose any topic of information available within the package. The table of contents denotes all topics available which can be selected by simply clicking on the box labeled for a particular topic.

  2. Tutorial package in CALL can also be used in pairs, it spurs the students to be able to collaborate very usefully in problem solving which in itself is considered to be a good skill to acquire, as it can be implemented in a wide range of different contexts. In addition to this statement, Ross (1992) gives the same idea.

  3. CALL’s flexibility of time allows the students to determine what particular topics and how long he wants to learn. Hence, students who miss the class because of some reasons, for instance illness., still have an opportunity to learn the particular topic taught in the classroom as far as the topic is available in the CALL program.

  1. Computer can’t be brought easily to anywhere or whenever because it is not like a book which can be brought wherever we go in any kind of situation and condition. If course computer has full of risk if we bring it in the rain even we have covered with water resistant bag or cover.

2. Working on long hours with computers also can make students’ eyes strain and tiring. It may, sometimes, account for the eye irritation and pain. CALL sometimes decreases the interaction among students or what we call the social aspect of schooling. It can not promote physical activities.

3. When a student is very interested in learning by using computer, he is only stays in front of the screen of the computer in every single spare time he has. Without realizing that he is less of contact or keep in touch with his relative. By doing so he is less of socialization with his friends or with his surrounding of his house. If this condition happen in the long time, someone may be isolated or lack of communication with his friend.


In conclusion, after I illustrate the using of computers in language learning both from the strengths and the advantages, we as English teachers must promote the student to utilize computer in a real teaching learning process to maximize students’ language potentiality. Beside that with the encouragement to the students to develop their language skills by practicing the many kinds of enjoyable learning in CALL. By doing so gradually the students are eager to study more and more.

Talking about its weaknesses and the disadvantages, we, as teachers, we can minimize them by giving the direction and guidance in how to use computer safety. The using of computer in a good way could minimize the negative effect from the computer. Even though having a set of computer needs a lot of money, it doesn’t mean that we can’t solve the problem. To avoid this problem we can ask the students to go to the rental computer to rent and study there. Besides that students can also use computers set in the school in the computer program course.


Warschauer, M., & Healey, D. (1998) Computer and languge learning: An overview, Language Teaching, 31,57-71.

Anzel, Betina and A.H. Jucker. (1992). Learning Linguistics with Computers: in
Individual Differences in CALL by Hartoyo, 2: 31.

Amstrong, Thomas. (2003). Setiap Anak Cerdas: Panduan Membantu Anak Belajar
dengan Memanfaatkan Multiple Intellegence, Terjemahan Rina Buntaran.
Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

Hartoyo. (2006). Individual Differences in Computer Assisted Language Learning
(CALL). Semarang: Universitas Negeri Semarang Press.

Peter, Scrimshaw. (1993). Language, Classroom, and Computers. London: British
Library Cataloguing in Data Publication.


Entry Filed under: mid test

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