Abstract: Meta-analyses of research on CALL have revealed that a substantial number of findings in the field have limited validity, as too many studies have “fallen into the trap of attempting to attribute learning gains to the technology itself rather than to the way the technology was manipulated to affect achievement” (Burston, 2015, p. 16). These limitations may be attributed to two main biases requiring two substantial shifts. Ontologically speaking, the technocentric view that unduly predominates in the field needs to make way to an approach focused on “the complex nature of humans as sociocultural actors, and technological settings as (…) mediators rather than determiners, of action and interaction” (O’Rourke, 2005, p. 435). Methodologically speaking, the product-oriented approach to computer-assisted language acquisition that rests on the assumption that variability is a measurement error (van Geert & van Dijk, 2002) needs to be shifted to a process-oriented approach to language development that seeks to document intra-learner’s variability over “multiple temporal and spatial scales” (de Bot, Lowie, Thorne, & Verspoor, 2013, p. 200).
Adopting a Complex Dynamic Systems Theory approach to the study of learners in CALL is revealing to be a promising route to allow capturing changes in their language development as they occur along a mind-body-machine-world continuum. Central to this meta-theory are the notions of interconnectedness, systems, ecology, agency, affordances, embodiment, and granularity of scales.
These notions will be explored by considering the methodology and results from three different studies aimed at documenting learners’ development of French as a foreign language, as mediated by technology: one on the emergence of critical thinking in a group cooperating to co-construct meaning in a Virtual Language Learning Environment, the second on the rise of awareness of intelligibility in learners manipulating speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities on their smartphone, the third on the impact of smartphone usage on the development of proficiency and intercultural competence in learners studying abroad.
Speaker Bio: Professor Mroz's research interests include: Foreign language education, Phonetics and phonology of French, Second Language Acquisition, Integration of pronunciation in the proficiency-based FL K-16 classroom, L2 critical thinking, 21st-century France, Computer- and Mobile-Assisted Language Learning, Digital L2 literacy in virtual environments, Mixed methods for research in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education (SLATE), and Process-oriented research in SLATE.