CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning)

  • CALL for Minority and Endangered Languages

    CALL materials have been developed and used for the world’s major languages (e.g. English, French, German). However, CALL development can be complex and require multi-disciplinary skills including linguistic, pedagogical and programming skills. There are over 6,000 languages in the world today but the vast majority of them are in danger of disappearing.

    I have developed a template for the development of a CALL program for Endangered Languages, that enables people working with Endangered Languages to develop CALL materials. More information about the template is available at: A Template for CALL Programs for Endangered Languages

    I am interesed in applying CALL reserach from the Most Commonly Taught Languages (MCTLs) to the Minority and Endangered Language context.

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  • Irish

    I am interested in the use of CALL for Irish, particularly in the Primary School context (for students, teachers and parents).

    Irish is a compulsory subect in Irish primary and secondary schools and it is considered to be different from other languages taught in schools (e.g. French and German - these are considered Modern Foreign Languages). Irish is a minority language and a very small percentage of the population use the language as their main language of communication. There are plenty of textbooks available for Irish, but, in common with many minority languages, there is a llimited number of good quality CALL resources available.

    My research interests include aiming to integrate (Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources for Irish into CALL materials for Irish (e.g. Gramadóir and abair)

    Another area of focus is developing Irish CALL resources for young learners and for parents (a learner group whose needs are not adequately addressed currently).

    The CALLIPSO (CALL for Irish for Parents Students and Others) is currently under development .

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  • Nawat

    Nawat is an Endangered Language (EL) spoken by a very small number of people (~15-250?)in western El Salvador. Until recently, it has not had an agreed writingsystem and very few literate speakers. These are common characteristics of Endangered Languages.

    I have used a template to produce a CALL program for the Nawat (Pipil) language of El Salvador. There is an online version of the course both in English and Spanish ( www.computing.dcu.ie/~mward/nawat.html, a CD and also a printed version.

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  • NLP/CL techniques in CALL

    Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Computational Linguistics (CL) resources can be very useful in CALL and is an important branch of ICALL (Intelligent CALL). However, there are many challenges to integrating them successfully in CALL. These include the lack of awareness in the CALL community of what NLP resources are availble and what they can do. Also, many NLP resources are not designed with learner-level language input and may need to be adapted to the language learning context.

    I am interested in how NLP/CL can be used in CALL, especially from a practical point of view. I have integrated Gramadóir into CALL resources for Irish in the primary school context. I have developed a wrapper for Gramadóir to show more suitable error messages for young or non-linguistically aware learners and to separte spelling errors from grammar errors.

    I am using the text-to-speech processing tool abair to develop CALL resources for Irish, particulary aimed to pronunciation and reading materials.

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  • CALL Normalisation

    I am interested in how CALL resources can be "normalised" in the classroom context. CALL has been around for many years as an established research field, but it is not widely used as much as it could be, particularly in the traditional school setting. There are many reasons for this including lack of resources, teacher education and general awareness of CALL outside the research sphere.

    I am interested in exploring these issues and trying to determine how best to make CALL more 'normal' and bring it in from the margins to the mainstream of education.

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  • Software Engineering and CALL

    I am interested in the application of Software Engineering techniques in the design and development of CALL resources. Often, Software Engineering techniques are overlooked or not used when developing CALL reources. This may be due to the fact that CALL researchers are unaware of them or may feel daunted by them.

    However, Software Engineering techniques can help develop better targeted and more robust CALL resources and it is recommended that they are used to guide the CALL development process.

    CALL development can be quite complex and ideally a multi-disciplinary team should help to design and develop CALL resources. CALL can draw on the knowledge and skills of language teachers, linguists, pedaogical specialists, User Interface designers, software engineers, programmers, learners and other stakeholders. However, many CALL developers do have have access to a multi-disciplinary team and may struggle with the Software Enginerring component of CALL development. In recent years, there has been an interest in using an agile approach to CALL development, and this is an area of current research for me.

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  • CALL in Non-traditional Contexts

    A lot of CALL research focuses on learners of the Most Commonly Taught Languages (MCTLs) (especially English) for university students. I am intersted in CALL for Less Commonly Taught languages and dealing with the additional challenges they face. I am also intersted in CALL outside of the university setting, particularly in the primary school context.

    I am intersted in CALL for adults for non-academic purposes. For example, I have developed a basic literacty tool for illiterate speakers of Tojolobal (a language spoken in southern Mexico).

    I am also very intested in CALL for parents, particularly for Irish. Parents have real needs that are not currently being addressed and this is an area of active research for me.

    I have held "Introduction to HTML" workshops for children from a local school. The workshop gave them an opportunity to develop their own webpage.

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CAL (Computer Assisted Language)

I am interested in the learning process, in general, and CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction).
  • CAL for Maths

    I am interst in the use of CAL for maths, especially in the primay school context. I have developed CAL maths resouces for senior infant classes in Ireland.

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  • CAL for Computing

    I lecture in computing subjects and am interested in integrating CAL techniques and resources into the lecturing process.

    I have developed screencasts for computer systems material and try to blend CAL technologies with the traditional lecture format.

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HCI (Human Computer Interaction)

Human Computer Interaction is important in the field of Software Engineering, CALL and CALL.
  • HCI for Children

    I am interested in HCI in general, and specifically, how it applies to children. Practical issues such as colour schemes, screen layout and keyboard/mouse dexterity are different for children and it is important to investigate and apply HCI guidelines for children (in order to develop effective computer-based resources for them).

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  • HCI in the Primary School

    While computers may be almost ubiquitous outside of school, they are not as present in schools as some might imagine. In schools, apart from children-specific HCI guidelines, there are also logistical issues to consider under the HCI umbrella. I am interested in how computers can be used, especially when there are limited computers available, internet/wifi access issues and adult-pupil ratio matters to consider.

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  • User Modelling

    User Modelling is important in ensuring that users can interact with a system in a way that suits them based on their knowledge, and preferences. It is an increasingly important component in CAL and CALL. I am interested in the application of User Modelling into CAL and CALL resources.

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User-Centered Design

User-Centered Design (UCD) refers to design processes that involve the users in design and development and is based on an explicit understanding and users, their tasks and the deployment environment.

  • I am interested in using UCD in novel or new-to-the-researcher contexts. For example, I am particularly interesed in UCD in the context of developing CALL resources for Irish for parents who have children in schools in Ireland. What are the real needs of these parents? How can they be met? UCD has an important contribution to make to the successful design for this neglected cohort of non-traditional learners.

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Language, Socio-Cultural Factors and Learning

The impact of language and social-cultural factors on learning is a very interesting area of research and one that is increasingly pertinent as countries become more multi-cultural.

  • Socil-Cultural Factors and Irish

    Socio-cultural issues are very relevant in the attitude towards the teaching and learning of Irish in schools in Ireland. Socio-cultural attitudes towards the language are complex and constantly evolving and this has an impact on CALL resources for Irish.

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  • Socil-Cultural Factors and Endangered Languages

    Socio-cultural attitudes towards a languge are often the main reasons why a language becomes endangered. It is important to understand these issues when designing and developing for Endangered Languages.

    I have endeveaoured to take socio-cultural factors into consideration when developing resources for Nawat (an extremely Endangered Language).

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Last updated: 17 Jan 2015