Computer-mediated language learning: Making meaning in multimodal virtual learning spaces

Hampel, Regine and Hauck, Mirjam (2006). Computer-mediated language learning: Making meaning in multimodal virtual learning spaces. JALT CALL Journal, 2(2) pp. 3–18.



This article argues that when using Internet-based computer-mediated communication technologies for language teaching and learning (e.g., email, internet relay chat, or, more recently, instant messaging and audio-conferencing), it is not sufficient to see the new learning spaces as replicates of conventional face-to-face settings. We suggest that it may be useful to consider how meaning is made using the modes and media available in electronic environments. This approach offers a new framework for the investigation of both the limitations and the possibilities of the new information and communication media and the modes they afford. It incorporates notions of design, authorship and dissemination, and the increasing importance of modes other than writing in virtual language learning spaces and can thus also contribute to an enhanced understanding of the phenomenon of new literacies. In this article we seek to demonstrate how this framework can inform the development of language learning and teaching in Internet-based environments, using an audio-graphic conferencing application as an example. We examine some of the demands made on tutors and learners and consider ways of meeting the arising pedagogical challenges.

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