Factors affecting CALL use and integration at universities

At one time it was believed that making computers available to EFL teachers was enough to encourage their use in EFL instruction. Graus (1999) reminds us that the availability of computers should not be considered the " be all and end all" of integrating CALL into language learning programs. Other factors that must be considered include the type of access to technology, resistance to change, lack of time, lack of suitable software, lack of technical support, lack of information sharing among users, and most of all, lack of training. Some EFL faculty at universities relied on the help of colleagues to learn CALL, while others learned CALL while studying at overseas universities. If CALL technology is to be integrated into EFL instruction, teachers must participate in hands-on training sessions. The training should be thorough enough so that the EFL instructors will be able to use the technology independently.

In addition to the overt factors mentioned above, covert factors (cultural, social, and religious) held by faculty, administrators, and students exert a strong influence on how CALL is used at universities. The following are the chief concerns expressed by EFL faculty at some universities:

  • a) CALL software contain material that is viewed as "morally offensive" including discussions of such taboo, etc.;
  • b) the Internet contains a large mount of material that conflicts with religious and cultural beliefs;
  • c) the fear of foreign influences taking over local cultural beliefs causes some students and teachers to question the use of CALL technology even when its content is considered culturally acceptable. These covert issues can negatively impact the use of CALL and must be dealt with when integrating CALL in EFL instruction.

The proposal of a CALL training program for EFL faculty at universities

The program proposed is a one-semester long in-service CALL training program designed for EFL faculty. The length of the program is 2 classes a week for a period of 13 weeks. The program stages, subjects, and time blocks are designed based on the research recommendations and the CALL teaching experience of the author.

One goal of the program is to introduce EFL faculty to CALL and its impact on improving EFL learning, and a second goal is not directly related to language teaching. That is, to enable faculty to use computer software in their office work, such as word processing, surfing the net, and use of email. It will be divided into four stages:

introductory, skill, CALL, and evaluation stages. Trainees will have to go first through the introductory and the skill stages and then through the CALL and evaluation stages.

Program requirements

The following requirements will be of essential importance to the CALL training program:

  • 1- Trainers: Qualified trainers who have knowledge in computer skills and applied linguistics. They must have practical experience in using technologies in EFL instruction.
  • 2- Computer lab: The lab should be equipped with up to date computers, a smart board, a data show projector, two printers, and one scanner. Headphones or ceiling speakers are also needed.
  • 3- Adequate CALL software: CALL software should be evaluated compatible with hardware available in the computer lab. For the training program, CALL software should cover all language skills and range in complexity where they are not boring or overwhelming.
  • 4- Internet connection: Local and global connections are of essential importance for the success of the CALL training program. Trainees need to communicate with colleagues and other teachers through the Net.
  • 5- Technical support: A professional technician must be readily available in the computer lab. to maintain equipments and solve technical problems. Senior students from the computer science departments in each university can be hired to serve this purpose.

Conclusion

It is no secret that EFL instructors at government funded universities have limited experience in the use of CALL and its integration into EFL instruction, and that they need to gain more experience before they can make CALL a part of their everyday teaching methods. A lack of detailed, effective in-service training programs for developing simple computer skills or knowledge in the use of CALL materials and techniques exists at most of the country universities. Some EFL instructors relied on the help of colleagues to learn their skills, while others learned them while studying or teaching at overseas universities.

If CALL is to be integrated into EFL instruction at universities, faculty must participate in hands-on training programs. The training should be through enough so that the EFL instructors will be able to use CALL independently. This proposal presents a complete CALL training program for EFL instructors at universities utilizing successful experiences implemented in other schools/universities. The program is consisting of four modules. The first module is dedicated for familiarizing the faculty with the concept of integrating CALL into EFL instruction. The second module covers a variety of essential computing skills. The third and fourth modules provide faculty with cognitive perspectives of CALL instruction and evaluation. If this proposal is to be actually implemented in universities, a number of requirements must be fulfilled. Some of these requirements are: availability of suitable hardware and software, professional trainers, and interested participants.