In Japan, Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has increasingly come to the attention of foreign language teachers because of rapid technological innovations (including an explosive growth of the Internet) and needs for improvement of teaching methods. However, serious problems still remain unsolved which would be obstacles to future developments of CALL. In this paper, I point out what problems CALL is faced with and suggest how they should be solved.
Many teachers who are not familiar with computers and have been teaching a foreign language using rather traditional methods (e.g. grammar and translation) are raising strong objections against CALL. It is necessary to construct more user-oriented technological facilities and software, and on the other hand, it should be emphasized that the use of computers is not the central point with respect to the concept of CALL. Rather, the discussion on CALL must be embedded in a larger context, i.e., which media we can use in teaching languages, and by which teaching methods.
There are a lot of methods and patterns of realization of CALL, e.g. CAI-drills, multimedia CALL, writing by e-mail, text understanding by WWW-search, independent learning, distance learning, etc. It is widely accepted that CALL is learner-oriented and motivates the language learners. But it is not clear at all what constitutes CALL-teaching, what role the computer plays in it, and which method fits into what kind of class. Further investigation must demonstrate how effective the CALL praxis is.
Because of a lack of personnel and budget, most CALL teachers or authors are overworked: They must make a plan for a CALL-room, manage the equipment and the operation, develop their own CALL materials, etc. This serious situation should be resolved as soon as possible.