INTEGRATING NEW TECHNOLOGIES INTO THE
MODERN LANGUAGES CURRICULUM
Gé Stoks, Institute for Curriculum Development, SLO
Enschede, The Netherlands
Less than ten years ago computers were introduced in secondary education. Many
initiatives were taken to promote the use of the new technologies, also in the area of
language learning. The introduction of the new technologies in the regular school
system has not been very successful. It is claimed that this is mainly due to the lack of
sound curricular integration. Proposals for courseware development that will better fit
into the modern languages curriculum are put forward in this paper.
To begin with, I should like to make clear the perspective from which I shall argue in
this paper. I am a curriculum developer with an interest in the contribution that modern
technology can make towards the improvement of language learning in schools. I am
not directly involved in software development myself, but I have some experience
using Duke University's CALIS and was involved in setting up an in-service teacher
training course called "New Technologies and Modern Language Learning" some six
years ago (Koenraad 1989). My interest is how we can use technology to improve
language learning in schools, not in private language schools, not in universities, but in
regular secondary education: pupils between the ages ofroughlyl2andl8. I am interested
in how we can bridge the gap between new technologies and language learning in
school, in how we can integrate technology into the curriculum so that those pupils
learn something extra. I look for the added value of information technology.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 76
One of the differences of which I only became aware when I spent a few months at
Duke University in 1991, was that, compared to most countries in Europe, in the United
States language learning mainly takes place at college level, whereas in a country like
The Netherlands, it is assumed that you have learned the language sufficiently well
when you go to college. No more time is spent on foreign language learning outside the
actual studies of modern languages at university level. Some language learning takes
place in a few colleges of higher education, particularly in the economic, business and
administrative areas. Languages are a key area in the secondary school curriculum,
where we currently teach English to all students, and French and German to a
substantial portion of them. Spanish and Russian are only taught in a few schools.
Obviously languages like Japanese, Portuguese, etc., can be studied at university level.
So the bulk of language learning takes place in the regular school system, by the 12 to 18
year-olds. In my department, the department of modern languages of the Institute for
Curriculum Development (SLO), we are currently working on curricula for both lower
and upper secondary education. Next to this, I would like to emphasize the interest in
language learning by less able students. It is generally felt that in a Europe without
national borders, mastery of modern languages is a requisite for all citizens. I believe
this is also a difference with the US, where, at least at college level, one usually finds the
more gifted students, who, by the time they are 18 years old, have already found their
own learning styles and are less dependent on a particular methodology. In the
secondary school system, however, less able students might benefit from a particular
methodology. The consequences for technology then are, that we should try to find
ways of using that technology to help the less able students learn modern languages.
COMPUTERS IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM
I will now first look back at the developments in the area of computers and language
learning. Some six years ago, in 1987, 1 was involved in setting up a government
sponsored training course "Technology and Language Learning." I will analyze the
developments and point at some mistakes that were made, and will suggest a few
directions for future applications of technology, which I believe have a better chance of
success than many others in use right now.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 77
During the eighties, governments in Europe suddenly felt their education system Tan
the risk of lagging behind developments in other countries and of losing its
competitiveness. The remedy for this, it was thought, was equipping schools with a
number of computers. Industry co-sponsored the hardware and each school was given
about 16 computers, which were usually installed in a computer lab. Several
(government sponsored) projects were set up to familiarize teachers with the new
technology and software development was undertaken.
Teachers went to courses, but at the time, there was little software for direct use in their
lessons. Each school could send two teachers to a general introduction course. These
courses consisted of general applications (database, word processing, spreadsheet). Few
teachers were really satisfied with these courses because there were few subject specific
applications. For many, though, this course was a first introduction to word processing,,
which, I believe is still the most significant computer application, especially as a tool for
the teacher. It has made creating exercises and tests a lot easier and has really
contributed to more efficiency.
Then subject specific courses were introduced, one of which I have just ' mentioned,
which dealt with modern languages. That course still does not seem too outdated, even
six years after it was developed. These were the topics:
• Computers and Writing
• Computers and Reading
• Designing your own content (authoring programs)
• Vocabulary learning
• Contexts for communication (adventures)
• Courseware evaluation
• Future trends
We taught the course to teacher trainers, who afterwards offered it to their course
participants (secondary school teachers of mainly English, French and German) and
wrote a series of booklets on the topics mentioned above.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 78
Many ideas that we put into that course were valuable and still are; some elements I
would include now, are multimedia, online writing tools and E-mail, although E-mail
was briefly mentioned in the course. In planning the course we tried to find a
compromise between catering for the immediate needs of the teachers and offering new
insights, giving teachers instruments and ideas for the improvement of their current
teaching practice and showing how technology can support modern insights into
language learning. The dual innovation, needed on the one hand (why else should you
introduce new technologies), would prove too much in practice.
Of all the topics mentioned above very few have been implemented. Lf we look at the
courseware available now for modem languages, we see the following (based on the
1992 educational software guide, published by the National Information Centre on
Learning Materials, NTCL.)
German French English
Grammar 7 11 8
Vocabulary 3 5 6
Reading Strategies 2
4 2 3
Writing tools 1 1 2
A few remarks:
• These are software packages available through educational publishers, only.
• Author programs for modern languages include CALIS and V.T. C.A.L.T. versions
for German, French, English.
• Some programs offer exercises for both vocabulary and grammar practice in one
• The programs are of varying sizes: the Discatext series (reading comprehension) is a
huge package, whereas there are also packages with which e.g. French pronouns
may be practiced.
It will be obvious that the majority of these programs are very traditional. There may be
an obvious commercial reason for this. After all, a balance must be struck between
catering to the needs of the marketplace and pedagogical innovations: many teachers
still emphasize grammar although a more communicatively oriented approach to
language learning has been promoted for years now.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 79
Among the author programs available are CALIS, the program developed at Duke
University, which SLO was licensed to distribute in the Netherlands. SLO made the
program available to many teachers on the condition that they make the lessons
available for free. Thus over two hundred CALIS-lessons were created and
redistributed through the Dutch CALIS-manual. This process was repeated when
CALIS 2.22 was released and would have been repeated with WinCALIS if there had
been a market. However most schools still have their antiquated XT-machines and
hardly anybody can run Windows on their computers in schools. We now have a
CALIS-area on our institute's bulletin board, where teachers may upload and download
(dial + 31 53 34 16 34).
As to the content of the lessons created, though, the majority of the lessons were again
of a very traditional grammar practice type: practicing verb forms and tenses in English,
case-endings for German, pronouns for French. Some of these contain rather good
feedback for the students. However an intern we had to do practical training at SLO,
analyzed the feedback, looked at the available research and came to the conclusion that
pupils between 12 and 16 years old, for whom most of the programs were meant,
hardly read feedback (Stok, 1989). Their strategy is the trial and error method. Some
teachers, though, do report that their students concentrate better when they work
behind computers than they would be during ordinary lessons. Besides, it is believed
that practicing on the computer may make time available for oral practice in small
groups. Generally speaking, though, the programs are very traditional, the structures
are not practised in a communicative context and the effects of yet another exercise
practicing French verbal phrases or English tenses are doubtful. I have no systematic
information, but I do not have the impression that these programs are used on a wide
scale and have contributed towards better mastery of grammar.
Other applications of computers in language learning, which we dealt with in our inservice
course, were of a too incidental nature. There was no proper integration into the
curriculum. There were lots of ideas and teachers may have tried out a few, but because
of the missing integration into the curriculum, the effects were not felt. You could offer
your students one of the text reconstruction exercises, which were so popular a few
years ago, but, although these may play a role in a reading course, it will be hard to find
any effects of one or two text reconstruction exercises. With many of these, it was by no
means clear what exactly the students learned. At the time we analyze d one of them;
the claim was made that it might contribute to better predictive reading. The course
participants finally concluded that it would be good practice for dyslexic children.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 80
Another example was a concordance. Although you can think of many applications in
the classroom, the hardware was so limited that no serious applications were possible.
We indexed a whole corpus of French texts, which we thought we might use for an
upper secondary reading course. We used Wordcruncher; with over 50,000 words there
was still little we could do. I don't want to say that concordances cannot play a role in
language learning, but we could not find a means of incorporating them.
I think that a lot of programs offer plenty of possibilities to let students do an exercise or
two, but that it is very hard for the teacher to integrate these activities into the
curriculum in a meaningful way. That is also the case with many programs, with which
exercises like doze tests or gap-filling exercises can be created. Only seldom will these
exercises play a significant role in the learning process.
I might easily continue with a few other examples.
With this retrospective of the developments of the last few years I think I may conclude
that the role of the computer in modern language instruction in schools is still very
limited. Of all the possible applications, which we introduced in the eighties, only a few
have been accepted by teachers and are applied on a limited scale. Looking at the
programs, mainly the vocabulary and grammar ones, we notice that certain
methodological innovations, such as teaching functional grammar in communicative
contexts is seldom practised in the programs available. Programs for reading often
consist of previous examination papers with multiple choice questions, although there
are some with which reading strategies are taught.
In some respects the conclusion may be justified that some computer programs would
actually be regressive with respect to new developments in methodology. Elsewhere, in
a reflection on the contribution of CALIS for the modem languages curriculum, I have
ventured the hypothesis, that the two-fold innovation, technological and pedagogical,
might have been too much at the same time (Stoks, 1990). Judging from the lessons
produced during the SLO CALIS-project, I noticed that the technologically
sophisticated lessons were often rather mediocre with respect to pedagogical content.
Although there are a few notable exceptions. CALIS authors seem to be more interested
in technology than in pedagogy; people interested in pedagogy take little interest in
That brings me to the central argument of this paper. I believe that we now almost have
the situation for which Higgins (1986) and others since him have warned since the very
beginning of the introduction of personal computers in the modern languages
classroom: after language labs computer labs will be discarded by the language teacher,
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 81
A. we succeed in showing the added value of this technology; software must make a
real contribution to better language learning;
B. as a corollary: software applications must be well embedded into the curriculum.
If these conditions are not met, language teachers will not even gain access to the
computer lab, because teachers of other subjects will have better applications.
After years of incidental experiments we must now show what students really learn
while using the computer. Do they learn something which they otherwise would not be
able to learn equally well? We should show how computer programs can be integrated
into the curriculum; they should be introduced after a careful analysis of the
Finally, hardware facilities should be better. More powerful computers are needed, but
I also believe that computer labs should become media resource centers instead of
rooms where you take all the pupils at the same time.
I will now go into these points in more detail and show a few areas of the curriculum in
which computer applications may be successful.
ASPECTS OF A COMMUNICATIVELY ORIENTED APPROACH TO MODERN
For the reform of the first few years of our secondary school system a common core
curriculum of fifteen subjects has recently been adopted. It will be implemented within
the next few years. The core objectives for modern languages 12-15 reflect some current
trends in language learning in schools. The committee in charge of the development of
these proposals was chaired by professor Van Ek, who is also one of the authors of the
New Threshold Level, published by the Modern Languages Project of the Council of
Europe (Van Ek and Trim 1991). These innovations have a wider application than just a
Dutch one: they reflect current trends and developments in several European countries.
Let's first have a look at these core objectives. They apply equally to English, German
and French and should be attained by the pupils after two, three or four years. This will
usually depend on the pupil's intellectual abilities.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 82
These are the characteristics:
• Emphasis on real communication tasks in reading, listening, writing and speaking.
• Implications: students must, even after a short period of time, be able to read
authentic materials, listen to authentic texts, write a personal letter and to make it
parallel with native speakers of the target language.
• Grammar plays a role, but correctness is considered less important in oral
proficiency. For writing, models may be used and correctness is marginally
important for all, though demands to be made on brighter students may be higher.
• Promotion of learner autonomy: developing reference skills, Strategic competence
"compensation strategies," reading and listening strategies.
• Aspects of sociocultural competence.
In curriculum proposals that show how these core objectives may be attained SLO has
proposed a task-based syllabus. The question now is: how can new technologies
contribute to the attainment of these objectives?
DEVELOPING READING SKILLS
First the emphasis on the development of skills, e.g. reading skills. In the teaching of
reading there is a growing awareness that the systematic teaching of reading strategies
might be more conducive to the development of reading skills in both the mother
tongue and the foreign language than just learning lots of words and doing reading
comprehension exercises, which in this country often consist of letting students do
previous multiple choice examination papers. Particularly less able students, whose
reading behavior is not efficient, who in other words are not good readers, may benefit
from a systematic teaching of these skills. Incidentally better students are likely to profit
from them as well, as provisional experience in our upper secondary project for French
has shown (Mulder,1991).
SLO has developed courseware for the development of reading skills (Stoks, 1992). We
first made an analysis of the core objectives and selected a number of reading strategies.
These may be divided into three categories:
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 83
1. predicting and verifying predictions;
mobilizing prior knowledge,
recognizing text types,
using titles and pictures,
2. structuring information in the text;
making a diagram of the information in the text,
inserting paragraph titles in the text,
3. understanding relevant details and guessing strategies.
We looked for exercises with which these strategies might be practised. This resulted in
a whole list of exercises. We then looked which exercises could be practised on the
computer and thus planned a partial curriculum for reading, in which the computer
exercises are included. For each language 12 to 14 lessons were written in CALIS. For
some of them additional work sheets were made. The authors were teachers, and the
project coordinator is an expert in reading skills.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to integrate these lessons in a textbook, which is
of course the best way of integrating new technologies. Especially in lower secondary
education, teachers tend to adhere rather rigidly to their textbooks. SLO never makes
complete textbooks, but only models or examples. In this case we had hoped that
educational publishers would take these examples and develop more lessons, within
the framework of their new textbooks. Due to the introduction of the new core
curriculum many publishers are putting new textbooks on the market. Publishers were
interested but finally backed out: reading strategies are relatively new and so are
computers. Besides, the costs of software development, even with an authoring system,
are relatively high and there is much competition in a small market.
The lessons have been field-tested, but only on a limited scale, and the effects have not
been measured. However, here is an attempt to really add something to the traditional
teaching, link up with current methodology and show the added value of the use of
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 84
Finally to give you some idea of the type of lessons we developed, I'll give a few
Prediction exercises: predicting the meaning of a word, the contents of a text, the
answer to a question; (gap-filling exercise, matching exercise)
Structuring exercise: structure information; (ordering/sequencing exercise)
Gap-filling exercises: Guessing unknown words.
An important element here is that the students are guided through a series of questions
that will help them find the right answer. They will learn how to use a certain approach.
If they guessed the wrong meaning of a Word, they are guided through a Process of
several steps that will help them find the answer. We actually recommend that the
students should work in pairs. It is believed that students learn from discussions with
partners when they are forced to make their choices and strategies explicit.
The added value of the computer is that students get specific help when they try to
solve the problem. The students are forced to follow a specific procedure. We more or
less impose a particular strategy in the program. It must be admitted that this
sometimes causes irritation with better students, who are inclined to take shortcuts or
who wish to just have another guess. I will come back to the aspect of prescribed
learning routes in a minute.
We believe that this approach will be successful in the long run. Now, relatively few
teachers are familiar with reading exercises, but within the context of the new core
curriculum, in-service training will take place and it is hoped that these lessons will
contribute to making language teachers better acquainted with these strategies.
DEVELOPING LISTENING COMPREHENSION
Another area in which new technologies may be well integrated is the teaching of
listening comprehension. This is still mainly done by means of audio-cassettes. Video in
this country has never been used on a large scale, and it is obvious that the use of video
in the classroom is less easy than audio. It remains an anachronism though, that our
students learn to listen in a foreign language mainly by means of tapes. Few students
would listen to a French radio broadcast in real life. The combination of sound and
images is far more natural. They can see that everyday on cable television, if they like.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 85
With new multimedia productions at hand, listening comprehension can be practised
by means of true-to-life materials. My department is elaborating a strategic approach to
the teaching of listening Comprehension for upper secondary French.
I am aware of the fact that a systematic approach to the teaching of listening
Comprehension is More controversial than such an approach to the teaching of reading,
where the advantages of teaching reading strategies are now widely
accepted(Anceaux,1990). As a curriculum developer I believe it is worth experimenting
to determine whether systematic training of listening strategies is more effective than
just listening a lot. We believe that especially less able students may benefit from such
an approach to listening in the foreign language. We chose French because that is the
hardest foreign language, as far as listening comprehension goes. There a-re hardly any
problems for Dutch students listening to English and German. Therefore, we will start a
project in collaboration with the Linguistic and Cultural Bureau of the French Embassy
in The Hague. In this project we will develop a series of exercises, very much along the
lines described for the development of reading skills, with which listening ability is
developed. We hope to include multimedia (videodisc) elements in this syllabus, so that
students can acquire listening skills by means of media, with which they will be
acquainted in their out-of-school lives as well. The idea is to design a listening syllabus,
which is already there in a draft form, and then create exercises and gradually
implement the visual elements. I am aware of the practical problems involved in using
visual elements, such as television programs. In 1992, we were granted permission by
the BBC to use and distribute parts of their news program for children, called
Newsround. By cooperating with the French embassy we hope that French television
will make news programs available for our purposes as well. Later the ideas will be
elaborated for lower secondary education as well.
In designing multimedia lessons, we shall emphasize the development of listening skills
along a preset learning route. What one often sees in recent multimedia productions,
among which is CD-1, is that the user can browse freely through the Program. I believe
that under the heading learner autonomy, or learner controlled environment, the lack of
an instructional Strategy is often camouflaged. There are lots of multimedia
productions, in which students have lots of options at their disposal: they may ask for a
translation, replay the tape at a slower speed, ask f or phonetic transcriptions,
vocabulary lists, etc. It is often quite easy to get to know what was said on the tape.
However, the question is, what has the student learned when he asks for the translation
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 86
of the fragment he has just seen, but not fully understood? Wouldn’t it have been much
better if the student had been given a cue and had listened again? I don't believe in a
totally free browse mode with all options that are technically feasible available at all
times. This maybe fine for a CD-1, showing the exhibits of a museum, where you
browse through quickly to see what you are interested in, but with a program to teach
listening Comprehension you'd want to have become a better listener after having
worked through the disk!
The design of a syllabus with accompanying exercises, with which the listening skill is
developed, is the key element in our project.
The obvious question will be on which platform these materials will be developed. That
is still uncertain. Above I showed that schools have no modern hardware and as yet it is
unclear if CD-I is going to be a success. This means that we will develop the listening
course with and without multimedia. Schools without the necessary hardware must be
able to use this syllabus, but those who have or will have the required hardware will be
able to use it. As yet, the project is very much conceived of as a pilot.
Again I hope to have shown that in this design integration into a partial curriculum (for
listening) is the key element. The multimedia elements will have a specific place in the
syllabus. In this respect it differs from a project like Paris en Video, a French videodisc,
developed a few years ago for the Macintosh platform. It was a well-conceived program
but very much ad-hoc — easy to use as something extra, but not well integrated into the
DEVELOPING WRITING SKILLS
The next curricular area in which technology may be used is that of writing. In Dutch
secondary education we have no tradition of essay writing in the foreign language,
something which is very common in the English speaking world. In the examination
syllabuses, writing a letter for personal purposes is the general requirement. At the
lowest level, things like filling in forms also occur, but filling in a form requires more
reading ability than writing.
The requirement that students should be able to write a letter is often seen as the
justification for a lot of formal grammar instruction. A survey published a couple of
years ago, however, showed that secretaries, who had completed senior vocational
education (16-19), in which much grammar was emphasized in view of letter writing,
hardly ever consulted grammar books, but used so-called letter books: they modified
existing letters for their own purposes. With the rise of word processing, in particular
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 87
"building block correspondence" and the use of macros, letter writing has become a lot
I believe that the curriculum for writing should be reconsidered. It is generally felt that
too much time is spent on formal grammar and that the results of that grammar practice
are unsatisfactory. When less time is spent on grammar, other techniques must be
taught to help students learn to write in the foreign language. Students may learn to
read and modify existing letters and write answers to model letters, thereby making use
of information and linguistic Structures in the original letter. Who of us does not use
these techniques when having to write a letter in a foreign language, even though as
linguists we might be more inclined to consult a grammar book than the ordinary
Reading existing letters and modifying them should be an important part of the writing
curriculum, especially in lower secondary education.
Students should also learn to use the writing tools available with most word processors:
the spelling checker and the thesaurus. However, these tools require a higher level of
metalinguistic awareness. Beginning writers will probably not be able to choose from
the options presented to them when a specific word is not recognized by the program.
In order to make a selection from a list of synonyms, one has to know the denotative
and connotative meanings of the words. However, the receptive vocabulary is always
much larger than the productive one, so even at intermediate stages, students may learn
how to employ these aids.
On-line dictionaries are also available now and students may learn how to use them.
The language learning Profession has hardly begun to consider the consequences of
palmtop dictionaries and grammars, which are available or will be readily available
very soon. Pedagogy in arithmetic has changed dramatically under the influence of
pocket calculators. The same will happen with reference tools for languages. Should
students really learn the entire French verb system, when they can look up a specific
form in a computer program? But how much should they learn? There must be a certain
basis. Now we may be inclined not to deal with certain verbal forms in French, because
we know the students will hardly master them. We are also inclined to reduce
metalinguistic knowledge about e.g., the verb system. However, if a student should be
able to look up a phrase or a verb form, he should know where to look. Does this mean
a renewed emphasis on formal grammar and syntax?
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 88
The tools that I know are of various practicability: for English the WordPerfect spelling
checker is very useful, for French and German they are only suitable to check the
orthography of individual words in their most simple, singular forms. Just try spellchecking
a German text with the WordPerfect spell checker for German!
Another tool is the grammar/style checker. Last year I analyzed some of these for
English (Stoks, 1991). I looked at Grammatík IV in more detail. This tool has been
designed for mother tongue speakers of English. Most of the suggestions relate to
usage, but the program does notice irregular subject-verb agreement and incomplete
sentences. It is possible to write your own rules and the impression may easily arise that
the program may be geared to the needs of EFL students. However, having used the
program myself for some time, I have come to the conclusion that such important
elements as tense errors in English are not detected and that false flags prevail, even
after ample modifications of the program. I checked this text with Grammatík IV and
was told it contained over 250 errors. I followed 15 suggestions for improvement, which
mainly had to do with long-winded phrases, sentence length, etc.!
Far more useful is a French grammar checker, called HUGO, developed in Canada.
French is morphologically more complex and HUGO warns if the wrong article is used,
finds instances of irregular noun-adjective agreement and subject-verb agreement. It
also has the full French verb system and a dictionary on-line. I have found this program
to improve my French texts a lot.
To conclude, how can writing tools be used to improve writing for communicative
purposes? I believe that a curriculum for writing should make ample use of word
processing facilities, whereby students start by modifying existing letters, adapting
these to their own preferences or purposes suggested by the teacher. Practical exercises
in the use of the thesaurus or the spell checker may be included. On-line dictionaries
may be used. These dictionaries will improve over the years, particularly when CD-
ROM is more widely available. Then thesaurus-like dictionaries, possibly combined
with concordance-like elements, maybe included.
As for grammar checkers, it seems to depend on the language in question whether
grammar checkers are of any use. I don't know any commercially available grammar
checker for German, although at the 1991 CALICO conference in Atlanta I was told that
IBM had one. The one I know for French may be useful for higher levels of French and
the English ones need to be geared to the needs of non-native students.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 89
As to the precise rôle of these tools in the writing curriculum, more research and
experience is required. It seems obvious, though, that these tools may contribute to
more learner autonomy, especially at the more advanced stages.
A specific aspect of writing is the use of E-mail. Sometimes the impression is given that
E-mail is something entirely new in language learning. However, there have always
been classroom correspondence projects, in which students exchanged letters. Of course
E-mail is faster, but classroom organization also requires time to plan a lesson, in which
letters may be answered. There is not a real difference with letters through the mail. It
only goes faster and the letters are available in digital format. Students may correct each
other's letters, as has been the case with an exchange between a school in northern
France where Dutch is taught and a school in the Netherlands, where students learn
French. Exchanges by means of E-mail or by post are beneficial. Students get first hand
sociocultural information about the target culture and their letter writing has a real
communicative purpose. However, this is not enough: an extra dimension is needed,
otherwise the classroom correspondence comes to an untimely end after one or two
letters, when students have told their pen friend about their pets, hobbies, holidays and
sports. For correspondence projects, it is important to focus on content: exchange
information about life at school, about the environment, where the pupils live, about
books they read or films they watched. This may lead to meaningful exchanges,
integration into the curriculum is possible and students have an opportunity to
compare life at home with fife in the target culture, as seen and experienced through the
eyes of their peers. It thus contributes to a greater sociocultural awareness.
Next year the SLO-lijn bulletin board will appoint a pupil as moderator of a
communication area; this pupil will suggest topics and ideas for meaningful exchanges.
Although oral proficiency is an important aspect of almost any modern languages
curriculum, I do not believe that the computer, at this stage, can contribute very much
to its development. It has been suggested that adventure games provide contexts for
communication, because of the interaction in pairs when students play the game. This
interaction, as has been shown, is usually of a highly restricted nature(Piper,1986).
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 90
Especially, multimedia productions may provide good models of speech, provide
relevant sociocultural information, which the students may use, when they have to use
the target language productively themselves. In interaction, however, I believe pair and
group work without the computer is more efficient.
IMPLEMENTING NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN EDUCATION
At present most schools have just one computer lab. Teachers normally take a whole
class into that room and let the students work there for the entire hour. Sometimes, a
class is split in two: the teacher does oral practice with half the group, while the other
half works on grammar exercises in the computer lab. The computer applications I have
just suggested can nearly all be carried out in such a computer lab, but in the long run I
think that for languages it would be better not to take a whole class to the computer lab
but to use the lab as a media resource center where students can go to carry out
different tasks. Examples of such labs maybe found in some well-equipped private
language schools (Eurocentres). Especially with multimedia applications one or two
students can go and watch a multimedia production and work at it. But also with word
processors, teachers may devise tasks and ask students to carry them out in the media
center. Students may do remedial work for grammar, but seldom does a whole class
need remedial grammar at the same time.
TO SUM UP
In recent years secondary schools have been equipped with computers, but for modern
language learning the implementation of the new technology has not been very
successful. If software is used, it is the more traditional grammar and vocabulary
practice. In this respect, the software may even have slowed down pedagogical
innovations. The software has, so far, hardly contributed to better language learning.
This situation may improve when the software is better integrated into the curriculum
and the added value becomes apparent. I have suggested some concrete ideas for the
secondary school modern languages curriculum: teaching reading strategies,
developing a strategic approach to listening comprehension including multimedia and
a new approach to the teaching of writing, including more purposeful E-mail projects. If
the language teaching profession can show the advantages of computer applications,
publishers maybe more inclined to develop software integrated in their textbooks. That
is, ultimately, the best way of integrating the technology into the school curriculum.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 91
Anceaux, H.,(1990). Luisteren en Lezen, Leiden
Ek, J. A. and J. Trim, (1991). Threshold Level 1990, Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
Higgins, J. and T. Johns, (1984). Computers and Language Learning, London.
Koenraad, T, T. van Maanen en G. Stoks, (1989). "Lesgeven met de Computer."
Modulereeks Moderne Vreemde Talen, Zeist.
Mulder, H., (I 991). "Foreign Language Syllabus Planning and Sequencing in Upper
Secondary Education.” Report on Benelux Workshop 1A, Strasbourg: Council of
______, (1992). Lire, c’est la clé, a Curriculum Proposal for Upper Secondary French. SLO:
NICL, (1992). Educative Software 1992, SLO/NICL: Enschede.
Piper, A., (1986). "Conversation and the Computer: A Study of the Conversational Spinoff
Generated Among Learners of English as a Foreign Language Working in
Groups." System, 14, 2.
Stok, B., (1989). Aanbevelingen voor Feedback in Onderwijsprogramma's voor de Moderne
Vreemde Talen, Groningen.
Stoks, G. (ed.), (1990). Handboek CALIS 2.22, SLO: Enschede.
_____,(1991). "Elektronisch Schrijfgereedschap: Hulpmiddelen voor het Moderne
Vreemde Talenonderwijs." Levende Talen, 464.
______ (ed.),(1992). Leesstrategieën op de Computer. Lesvoorbeelden Frans, Duits en Engels
voor de Basisvorming, SLO: Enschede.
______, (1990). "Courseware-ontwikkeling met een Auteurssysteem: CALIS," in: Kamer,
A. (ed.) SLO-jaarboek, SLO: Enschede.
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 92
Gé Stoks is head of the Modern Languages Department of the National Institute for
Curriculum Development (SLO) in Enschede, The Netherlands. Special interests include
curriculum development for advanced levels of foreign language learning, foreign
language pedagogy and applications of information technology to foreign language
He coordinates an international research and development program on curriculum
development for modern languages in upper secondary general, technical and
vocational education that is carried out within the framework of the Council of Europe's
Modem Languages Project.
In 1991 he was a Charles E. Culpeper visiting scholar at the Humanities Computing
Facility at Duke University, Durham, NC.
Institute for Curriculum Development, SLO
P.O. Box 2041
7500 CA Enschede
Phone: + 31 53 840 840
Fax: + 31 53 307 692
CALICO Journal, Volume 11 Number 1 93