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Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning

Module by: Gary Cziko. E-mail the author

Summary: Introduction to and definition of Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning (ATALL).

Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning (ATALL) refers to (a) the development and use of technological tools to facilitate foreign language (FL) or second language (L2) learning (both to be used synonymously hereafter), and (b) research on the development, use, and effects of such tools for language teaching and learning.

ATALL is autonomous in that it provides the means for language learners to improve their L2 proficiency whether or not they are taking formal courses in the language they are learning. Thus, ATALL can be used by students in conjunction with formal L2 study or by learners who are not taking L2 classes. ATALL activities can be used as an integrated component of formal L2 courses or for supplemental study (and perhaps extra credit) within L2 courses. ATALL can also be used by non-native L2 teachers who wish to improve their L2 skills and show their students how they can continue to develop their L2 proficiency outside of class. "Autonomous" also implies that the tools are widely available (such as via the World Wide Web) at no or low cost (see Bibliography of Learner Autonomy for resources about autonomy and language learning; for a comprehensive, empirically-based theory of human autonomy, see Perceptual Control Theory and the Control Systems Group).

ATALL encompasses all forms of electronic and information technology that can be used to facilitate L2 proficiency. This includes the obvious tools of computer and Internet technology. But it also includes other forms of communication technology such as wired and wireless telephony, television and radio (broadcast, satellite and cable) and the integration of older communication technologies with newer information technologies.

ATALL is based on the latest theory and research on Second Language Acquisition (SLA), the psychology of learning and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Research and theory provides directions and implications for how technology can best be used to improve L2 proficiency in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Principles derived from L2 research and theory are applied to the development of ATALL tools and activities.

ATALL activities can be divided into the five primary domains of input, output, interaction, exercise, and assessment.

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