Issues and challenges of using CALL in learning Arabic: considerations for content development.

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Issues and challenges of using CALL in learning Arabic: considerations for content development.
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   American International Journal of Social Science Vol. 2 No. 5; July 2013  76 Issues and Challenges of Using CALL in Learning Arabic: Considerations forContent Development Ibrahim Suliman Ahmed Mukhtar, PhD Centre for Languages and Pre-University Academic Development (CELPAD)International Islamic University Malaysia Muhammad Sabri Sahrir, PhD  Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM)International Islamic University Malaysia Fekri Abidin Hassan, PhD Centre for Languages and Pre-University Academic Development (CELPAD)International Islamic University Malaysia Abstract The objectives of this research are to introduce Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) scholars and their activities to the Arabic readers, provide the Arabic readers with many issues of CALL, introduce CALL journalsto our teachers as well as to our students in IIUM and the Arabic readers, provide our teachers as well as our students in IIUM with CALL organizations, provide our teachers as well as our students in IIUM with latest CALL information and books, introduce CALL conferences information to our teachers as well as to our studentsin IIUM and the Arabic readers. The researchers designed questionnaire with eleven items about CALL issuese.g. (the future of CALL, CALL status at present, methodology of CALL, CALL and research, the theoretical framework of CALL, the development of CALL materials, the opportunities for training CALL teachers and theCALL in the third world as well as the CALL scholars’ comments and suggestions). The researchers sent thisquestionnaire to CALL scholars for their responses. The researchers used their opinions and suggestions after analysing their responses. The significant of this research are based on the researchers’ knowledge there is noother researchers dealing with Computer Assisted Language Learning in Arabic language, provides suggested  Arabic CALL curriculums and guidelines to our teachers as well as our students in IIUM in designing ArabicCALL lessons and CALL curriculum, provide guideline to our teachers as well as students in IIUM in designingcriteria of Arabic CALL evaluation. This research is also assisting our Arabic CALL teachers in CALL researchas well as providing many articles and it is also reviewing CALL programs. The development of CALL materialrelates very much on education systems; an enhanced understanding of language pedagogy, each country’seducation policies and resources. Training teachers is fundamental, but often neglected due to time and cost  factors, computers will be used, but without a cogent argument to state that they improve the situation,administrators and policy makers will be hard pressed to justify additional expenses. Word-processing is still themost common application in CALL. The problem then as now knows enough about the technology and pedagogyto integrate the two effectively (see Ahmed , 2002b). 1. Introduction Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) may be defined as “ the research for and study of application of the computer in Language teaching and Learning” (Levy, 1997, pg. 1)Healey and Johnson (1997) emphasized that, when selecting software, the first step is to do a needs analysis asthis will have a critical bearing on the software which will work most effectively in a particular setting. To do theneeds analysis, the following questions require to be answered:-   Who are the users being targeted?-   What are the goals of the students being targeted?  © Center for Promoting Ideas, USAwww.aijssnet.com   77-   In what kind of setting will the software be used?-   How much do the teachers/laboratory assistants who will work with the students know?-   What is currently available in the way of hardware and technical assistance?-   How much money is available for additional expenditure?  2. The objectives of research The objectives of this research are to:a)   Introduce CALL scholars and their activities to the Arabic readers. b)   Provide the Arabic readers with many issues of CALL.c)   Introduce CALL journals to our teachers as well as to our students in IIUM and the Arabic readers.d)   Provide our teachers as well as our students in IIUM with CALL organizations.e)   Provide our teachers as well as our students in IIUM with latest CALL information and books.f)   Introduce CALL conferences information to our teachers as well as to our students in IIUM and the Arabicreaders.  3. Literature Review Hajar (1998) claims that word processing positively alters students’ attitudes towards writing, 37 first-year English as a second language students have been chosen in her study, as the study subjects adopted the processapproach to teach writing skills to her students. To discover if there was a change in their attitudes towardswriting, the students wrote using Microsoft Version 6 word processing programme. The researchers collected her data using a questionnaire. The findings of her study indicated that the students found the word-processing /writing class enjoyable and beneficial. Their responses suggested that they paid more attention to the importantelements in writing including grammar, spelling, correct word choice, content and organisation. Word-processingin the classroom boosted their confidence in writing in English. In conclusion, the researchers contended thatword processing is important in the L2 writing class as it helps students realise that writing can be a meaningfulexercise while boosting their confidence in writing (Hajar, 1998).Some studies which investigated issues arising from computer-mediated communication, focused on issuesarising from aspects of teaching culture. While language and culture have a strong relationship with each other,some studies, such as Osuna and Maskill (1998), rely heavily on culture as the target objective. In their study,entitled  Using the World Wide Web  , they have evaluated the potential role of Internet resources to assist beginning-level undergraduate students of Spanish as a foreign language. In this study, the authors emphasized the importance of assessing the learners’ perceptions of their experience in terms of both language and culturalknowledge. Thirteen students enrolled in their first college trimester of elementary Spanish participated in thestudy. They were required to answer a questionnaire designed to assess their performance in five specified activities. As the authors indicated, in order to complete the five specified activities, the students were required toaccess five different web sites where language functions, historical information and tourist information, etc. were presented. The specified activities were varied. For example, with the help of the Web, each student was required to plan a family trip to Madrid, describe a photograph from Argentina and find a place for leisure activities inChile. At the end of the term, the students were asked to complete an additional questionnaire outlining their reactions to the activities as a whole and measuring their perceived learning outcomes.According to the authors, the results of their study were as follows:a) The Internet seemed to be an excellent tool for foreign language and culture. b) The importance of teaching language and culture cannot be over-emphasized.c) There is relation between student satisfaction and level of interest.d) A significant limitation of the study, however, was the small number of participants.The authors also recognized that introducing a new medium (the Internet) may, in itself, lead to increased motivation.   American International Journal of Social Science Vol. 2 No. 5; July 2013  78In summary, the significance of Osuna and Meskill’s (1998) study is two-fold: its use of the Internet to teach bothlanguage and culture on the one hand and the authors’ recognition that integration needs to be thoughtfully planned to produce positive outcomes such as accelerated learning, increased learning efficiency and thefacilitation of retention on the other.In his study,  Integrating CALL into the Writing Curriculum , Cunningham (2000) examined various types of computer-mediated communication   such as electronic mail, list servers, computer conferencing and bulletin boards. His sample comprised Japanese female undergraduate students enrolled in English as a Foreign Languagewriting class. In a preliminary study to assess his participants’ attitudes, he collected his data by means of aquestionnaire consisting of 37 statements with which the students had to agree or disagree. In his findingsCunningham states that, in general, the students found the computer-based classes challenging but rewarding inthat it benefited their performance in writing. They also felt that using the computer helped concentrate their attention on certain aspect of their writing (for example, grammar, word choices and organization). Thesignificance of Cunningham’s study is that he used the computer to provide his student with meaningful writingactivities. The main limitation of his study is that baseline information was not obtained from a comparable groupof English as a Foreign Language students enrolled in classes that did not use computers to teach writing skills.Ideally, the learners in such a control group (that is, students taught in a traditional classroom) should be taught bythe same teacher and with the same materials and curriculum as the learners in the computer classrooms.In a paper titled  Graded Reading System: On-Line , presented to an international CALL conference at Exeter in theUnited Kingdom, Shiozawa (2001) discusses the possibilities and drawbacks of on-line applications with respectto reading skills. This discussion arises as an outcome of his production of a Web-based learning system for students of ESL and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to develop reading skills. Learners were able to choosewritten passages from seventeen different topic areas (culture, society, music, health, sports, recreation, people,computers/Internet, nature, environment, engineering, trips, entertainment, opinions, arts, humanities, on campus,and others) at five difficulty levels. Shiozawa (2001) selected his topics using major search engines like Yahooand Alta Vista, and based his topic selection on the number of registered users accessing a particular site.Passages and comprehension questions were contributed constantly from on-line project participants around theworld.Learners were required to register their names and e-mail addresses before accessing the site. Teachers and learners alike were encouraged to add any text, contribute articles or leave comments for other people to read. Asa highly interactive system, Shiozawa’s (2001) programme provided an environment where learners could exchange messages with other on-line readers about the articles they had read. Learners were also able to chatwith other readers, as well as with the authors of certain articles. After the learner chose a passage, his answers tothe related questions were recorded and, if these reflected an acceptable level of reading achievement, the systemwould advise the learner to move to the next level. The system was designed to allow L2 learners to experience both intensive guided reading and extensive authentic reading. It also provided a list of links to other passageswhich enabled the learners to jump to other Web sites of interest to them.Shiozawa (2001) lists a number of advantages of his Graded Reading   System: On-Line . It provided a learningenvironment where learners could keep reading a variety of passages in topic areas in which they are trulyinterested. They could also read materials that suited their proficiency level. The system also helped to foster self-directed learning. Once the learners became interested in the reading materials, they tended to keep reading for extended periods of time because reading in the foreign language had become enjoyable. The growing bank of reading materials was seen as helping both teachers and learners around the world. Shiozawa (2001) alsoidentifies a number of drawbacks, one of which was that the system only used multiple choice comprehensionquestions for its exercises and also recognized that continued success for his system depended on the number of contributors. Nielsen (2001), in her study  Interactive Arabic Grammar on the Internet  , described her project, the Arabic VisualInteractive Syntax Learning (ArabVISL), as the development of Internet-based software for the interactive, self- paced learning of Arabic grammar. The stimulus for Nielsen’s project was the almost complete lack of teachingmaterials for Arabic grammar in the context of Arabic for foreign language learners.  © Center for Promoting Ideas, USAwww.aijssnet.com   79Therefore, this programme was designed by Nielsen for students at university and high school levels. In theintroduction to her study, Nielsen (2001) explained the reasons for developing the programme and described anumber of problems which arose when transferring Arabic grammar into the computerized environment.As Nielsen (2001) makes clear in her introduction to the programme, the learner chooses Arabic sentences from a pre-analysis corpus and then selects visualisation. The learner can choose to see the full analysis, or he may build the analysis on his own. ArabVISL is a very flexible tool, especially for the beginner, and takes seriously the ideaof autonomous learners and, as a consequence, respects differences in learning styles. It enables the learner toanalyse a number of Arabic sentences and to gain access to definitions and explanations of Arabic grammaticalterms. He also suggests that the next step for her project will include automatic parsing of Arabic sentences inorder to offer the possibility for students and researchers to investigate and exemplify grammar rules based onempirical data. This development, Nielsen (2001) contends, will make it possible to develop games, quizzes etc.Thus, with a focus on language rules, it will be more challenging and more fun to learn Arabic grammar. Thesignificance of Nielsen’s (2001) study is that her programme not only provides for self-paced learning but, as Nielsen herself states, her ArabVISL software “is, if not the world’s first, then at least one of the first interactiveArabic grammar tools … that allows the learner to work … in a variety of foreign languages with Latin scripts”(Nielsen, 2001, p. 344).Salem (2001) published a paper entitled,  Designing a Website for Teaching Arabic: The Pedagogical Aspect. Thekey objective of this study was to describe and analyse a Website that the author had developed at the ArabicLanguage Institute of the American University in Cairo, Egypt (AUC) for teaching Arabic through literature .Thesignificance of this study is that it is part of an on-going project and its content is being added to on a continuing basis. The programme contains three components 1) short stories and excerpts from some novels; 2)contemporary poetry, and; 3) a collection of colloquial poetry. The text for each component has been chosenaccording to a number of predetermined criteria (Salem, 2001, p. 359) and each component has a link that takes a particular signal. Each component has three different kinds of drills,   namely, vocabulary drills, listening drills and grammar drills. In each component there are some questions about the topics and there is provision for feedback to be provided. The learner may go back to look for the answer. Students can work at their own pace at home or atany computer laboratory either as individuals or as members of a group. The website is interactive and it helps thestudents to get feedback. Students may obtain the correct answers from the teacher via e-mail. Overall, the siteoffers an integration of skills thereby enhancing the learning process.  4. Methodology of research The researchers designed questionnaire with eleven items about CALL issues e.g. (the future of CALL, CALLstatus at present, methodology of CALL, CALL and research, the theoretical framework of CALL, thedevelopment of CALL materials, the opportunities for training CALL teachers and the CALL in the third world aswell as the CALL scholar’s comments and suggestions). The researchers sent this questionnaire to CALL scholarsfor their response. The researchers used their opinions and suggestions after analysing their responses. Nevertheless, the researchers followed up the answers by e-mailing the CALL scholars and asking about manydifferent items e.g.: the differences between CALL history and CALL methodology.  5-Significance of research Based on the researchers’ knowledge there is no other researcher dealing with Computer assisted Language Learning in Arabic language and it may provides:a)   Suggested Arabic CALL curriculum ( see appendix 2 ) b)   Guideline our teachers as well as our students in IIUM in designing Arabic CALL lessons and CALLcurriculumc)   Guideline for our teachers as well as our students in IIUM in designing criteria of Arabic CALL evaluationguides.d)   Assist our Arabic CALL teachers in CALL reach as far as the research provides many articles.   American International Journal of Social Science Vol. 2 No. 5; July 2013  80 6- Survey Result 6-1 Analysis of the Questioner6-1-1 The theoretical framework of CALL The CALL scholar stressed that “there is no one framework, but many people are working in different aspects”,others scholars referred the present researcher to many woks being done by CALL expertise’s as this comments.“Just check Michael Levy’s work. Still flexible; See Levy (1995); etc. and Work by Carol Chapelle and PhilHubbard (1994) is excellent in this area.”. The researcher has gone through (Levy, 1997) as he owned the book itself, which is well recognized by CALL scholars.One CALL scholar mentioned that “some have claimed that we need a “theory of CALL.” While another scholar did not emphasis on “theory of CALL.” as he mentioned “frankly, this does not make sense to me. CALL is a toolthat we use to advance our understanding of second language acquisition. Linking interrelated concepts maybekeep it as the minimum”. It should be noted that another CALL scholar emphasized on the “theory of CALL” ashe encouraged the present researcher to stress in the CALL theoretical framework. 6-1-2 CALL status at present Some scholar stressed that the status of CALL at present is “growing, definitely yes.” and CALL is a vibrant,dynamic field with many active and insightful researchers. Some scholars agree partially with growing of CALL,and mentioned that “there are some very good prototypes but replication is still some way away.” Some scholarsencouraged the researcher to put more effort on CALL.. “Surviving but effort should be done to promote and widen its use”. Two areas are highly active: 1) analyses of archived online discourse (formal and informal); 2) thecontexts and sociolinguistic dynamics of computer use. Some scholars raised an interesting point of CALL that“Still very early days and we are still finding our way. A lot of web-based potential; growing use of sound and video online, but still issues of bandwidth that restrict full media use. Software comes on CD-ROM now in order to incorporate sound and video. Better teacher tools are readily available, like Hot Potatoes for authoring”. Itseems that some counties did not heard about Computer and other did not heard about CALL, due to manyreasons e.g. political factors and economic factors etc. We may in need to design our own Language programmesand CD ROMs based on students and community needs. 6-1-3 CALL status in the past The CALL scholar emphasized that CALL was “Challenging in the past CALL has passed from its infancy to become a full fledged field of legitimate inquiry”. The CALL scholar impressed with the way of the Internethelped CALLers as he mentioned “various online working laboratories have been developed but with limited success”. CALL scholars stressed that “in Malaysia the development is very encouraging with the introduction of smart school the uses and applications of CALL is rapidly developing”. Experimental mostly and based withintertiary institutions. Only since the Internet / Web has CALL expanded in any meaningful way into primary/secondary education systems. Hence the Internet plays great role in teaching / learning language.CALL scholar emphasized on the use of CALL rather than the technology itself “technology has always beenused well sometimes and poorly sometimes. We haven't eliminated everything that was done in the past - we'vekept the bits that worked well. Some drill and practice is still useful, such as pronunciation work. Simulations arestill widely used. Word-processing is still the most common application in CALL.” The CALL scholars stressed on the integration as he mentioned “the problem then as now knows enough about the technology and pedagogyto integrate the two effectively (See Ahmed, 2002b).One CALL scholar indicted that “Maybe focusing on a history of the CALL development in the Arabic world would be nice”. If we take a look at the previous statement we learn that some scholar encouraged us to gothrough CALL history rather than the practicing CALL, but it seems that we need to learn more about CALLhistory and then practicing of CALL. 6-1-4 Some issues need to be addressed The present researchers indicted some issues of CALL (Application and methodology of teaching/ learning and CALL) but many scholars provide valuable information for this study in general end to this item ( some issuesneed to be addressed  ) in particularly as one scholar claimed that in answering to the above statement
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