…. Krashen (1982) argues that comprehensible input is what learners only need to acquire grammar, whereas others argue for grammar instruction and assert the importance of drawing learners’ attention to ensure acquisition (Ellis, 1997). In support for Ellis’ claim, Lightbown and Spada (2006) emphasise learners’ need for focus on form, providing that learners’ acquisition develops slowly if they are involved in any of the teaching approaches that focus only on meaning. Additionally, the implicit approach places the responsibility on the learner, thus it may work with advanced learners but the beginners might need more support from the teacher or any other reference (Barr, 2004). Therefore, Barr (ibid: 25) claims, “a combination of both approaches offers both flexibility and direction to the learner”.
However, Higgins (1986) indicates that several commentators on CALL state that computers should be used for formal grammar instruction and drilling, while teachers should be expected to provide freer forms of activities to enhance learners’ acquisition. He claims that teachers are good in conveying meanings, while computers are good at drilling because it requires patient repetition and attention to small details, thus aptly stating, “why not use each medium for the task it is best at?” (ibid: 34).
Schmidt (1990) points out that learners’ acquisition for linguistic input is likely to be enhanced when they are exposed to a salient linguistic feature; thus, the designed CALL materials include reading and listening activities which expose learners to the grammatical structure as a practice for it (Griffee, 1990).
Additionally, the constructive approach to learning has stimulated me to design the materials. In accordance with this approach, learners themselves are responsible for processing information and gaining knowledge, rather than depending on the teacher alone and being passive in the learning process (Reagan, 1999). Learners therefore construct their own learning following what works best with them (Hannafin and Land, 1997). Social constructivists also claim that social interactions help in developing learners’ competence (Vygotsky, 1978). In fact, CALL engages learners in the experience of interacting with the computer or with peers in groups. While I do not ignore or minimize the role that teachers play in the learning process, I aim to provide students with chances to take part of their learning process, which, as a result, can motivate their progress.
4. CALL materials:
The main aim of the CALL materials (presented at: http://www.students.ncl.ac.uk/w.a.m.alzahrani) is primarily to provide students with grammar instruction and exercises as a supplemental work to complement their classroom and course book instruction. Therefore, students will be provided with opportunities to access easy and exciting presentations of the grammar points and practice helpful exercises that engage various language skills, specifically reading, listening and writing.
The learning materials were designed for young adult learners (aged 18-22) who are currently enrolled on an intensive four-level English course in the foundation year at King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. Although these learners have six years of prior English learning experience in secondary and elementary education, their proficiency in English is very disappointing as they were placed in the first level (Beginners), as revealed by the placement test they undertook at the beginning of the academic year.
However, it should be noted that, though the materials are aimed at a particular group of students, they are equally suitable and, hence, can be used by any English language learners.
4.3.Why Use CALL?
The designed CALL materials have been chosen as opposed to any other medium for their great potentials, which can be perceived in the following: