The sweet suite -- a discussion and review of a range of computer-assisted language learning software

Douglas R McPherson
Texas A&M University at Qatar
Doha, Qatar

The potential and shortcomings of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) software have been widely discussed. This paper focuses on a selection of software reviewed and chosen for use in a CALL laboratory at one institution. The types of software, the reasons for their selection, and the challenges involved in their commissioning and usage are discussed. The validity of computer-mediated learning and feedback, particularly in writing, are also considered and reviewed.

The measurement of student learning, and the necessity for such benchmarked measurements for all stakeholders is described, particularly in the context of developmental English writing and reading courses taught within the institution. These two-semester courses are taught in dual mode, with 50% of the course delivery using a more traditional lecture- and classroom-based methodology, and the balance being delivered mainly in a CALL laboratory.

Accountability for learning, the roles of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in learning, as well as the merits of using a cumulative assessment model are explored.

The paper concludes by suggesting that computer-mediated learning, used appropriately, in conjunction with face-to-face contact, although initially labour-intensive, can be effective and efficient.