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The pedagogical effectiveness of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in vocabulary acquisition among Turkish EFL learners

Altay, Bahattin

The pedagogical effectiveness of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in vocabulary acquisition among Turkish EFL learners Thumbnail


Bahattin Altay


This study explores the use of CALL in teaching vocabulary in the classroom. Hence, It is possible to hypothesise that CALL programme enhances vocabulary acquisition of tertiary level students in Turkey. Specifically, it aims to answer the question: 'To what extent do CALL applications affect vocabulary acquisition of tertiary level students in Turkey, specifically in the Samsun region?' This question arises from issues around the pedagogy of vocabulary acquisition that I have encountered in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and my desire to find answers. To find fuller answers, I formulated the following sub-questions.
RQ 2. Does CALL instruction have an observable pedagogical effect in the vocabulary acquisition and learning of EFL learners?
RQ 3. What appear to be the benefits of and issues around CALL in vocabulary learning and acquisition?
RQ 4. In the light of the above, what pedagogical strategies for teaching vocabulary would seem to fit best with use of CALL?
The study used a mixed-method approach, involving seventy students considered to the have same level of vocabulary knowledge, who were randomly divided into two classes and exposed to two different learning conditions; i.e. traditional and CALL. The intervention group (35 students) was exposed to digital and online materials, where they were required to finish tasks inside and outside the classroom. For quantitative purposes, both groups were evaluated on a vocabulary test before and after the intervention and their scores were compared. Results showed that the intervention group scored significantly higher than the control group on the post-test. For qualitative purposes, aquestionnaire was conducted with the experimental group to explore students' attitude to CALL. In addition, I conducted classroom observations during the interventions. On analysis, the study indicated that the intervention group were better motivated and that they responded better to digital vocabulary learning tasks.
Findings also revealed a pedagogical dimension; i.e. simply following instructions provided by digital materials cannot provide conditions for what can be termed 'high quality teaching' (Harris, 1998). It is my belief that such teaching, in the context of vocabulary acquisition, demands that students notice and effectively process the target lexical items (Robinson, 1995).
Using Robinson's theoretical concept of 'noticing', together with the work of Warschauer and Healey (1998) who claim that the 'fun factor' is the key element of students' motivation (Mark Warschauer & Healey, 1998), I conclude that the use of CALL alone, although it may increase motivation, is insufficient for vocabulary learning and acquisition in my own teaching context. Pedagogical strategies where vocabulary can be learned in such a way that it can be said to have been 'acquired' by the student, demand that teachers know and understand how to integrate digital material in the language learning classroom.

Keywords Vocabulary acquisition, Computer-assisted language learning, Vocabulary Learning.


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