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The technologies demonstrated at the InSTIL and EUROCALL 2000 conferences were very inspiring. They gave participants the sense that the technologies of their wildest imaginations are at last materializing, particularly in long awaited advances in speech technologies. Some challenges, however, remain ahead as attempts are made to put these technologies to use in CALL. Past experience demonstrates for example that software designed for recognition of a proficient speaker’s language is different than that required for learner language. It is also evident that while language use may be critical for language acquisition, language use does not necessarily indicate language acquisition. These points were made by Marty, who was working with speech software for French teaching a few years before the current excitement:

...[W]e should keep in mind that the present research and development is aimed only at producing speech easily understandable by natives (e.g., English for native speakers of English) and that the potential markets are industrial (e.g., replacing visual indicators or visual alarms with audio warnings) and in home products (especially toys). Until our needs for improved FL instruction are better understood, it is not likely that those devices will have the voice quality we need. (Marty, 1981:52).

If Marty had attended the InSTIL and EUROCALL conferences in 2000, no doubt he would have been very, very impressed. Even though plenty of work remains, we do seem to have very good voice quality in speech synthesis. The question today is how can we best use these emerging technologies, and so Marty’s suggestion that we must better understand our needs in foreign language teaching remains very relevant. What are the needs for foreign language teaching in the 21st century? The papers at EUROCALL 2000 as well as other work in technology, business, and language teaching suggest that we should be prepared for change in the coming years, but what kind of change? The turn of the century seems an appropriate time to examine some of the speculation on the future of language teaching in general, as well as how technology fits into that future. This paper considers these general questions, and then suggests ways in which links might be made between work in second language acquisition (SLA) and CALL in order to put technologies to use for L2 teaching.


This article is from ReCALL 13 (2001): 3, doi:10.1017/S0958344001000210. Posted with permission.

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Cambridge University Press



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