September 2015
On Call



Jack Watson
2016 TESOL CALL-IS Chair-elect
Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada

1. Jack Watson: Our Past Roots/ The Early People

For the most part, anyone trying to write the history of anything will likely be dogged by a persistent sense of inadequacy, borne of the probability that they weren't there in the first place. Fortunately for this article, the organization now known as the TESOL Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section is relatively new, with many long-time members still contributing to the CALL-IS' organizational development and outreach, and with some original members having documented the roots.

Three interesting and illuminating articles on the emergence of the CALL-IS provide insight into its earliest days: Roger Kenner's A Short History of the Founding of the CALL-IS Interest Section; Vance Stevens' How the TESOL CALL Interest Section Began; and The CALL Interest Section Community History, a Kenner-initiated project with numerous serial contributors and a current history. The third pleasantly invites contributions on an annual (i.e. per convention) basis (and that means you too can record some observations and be a part of history!). The first two eloquently and passionately illuminate and inform those early days of the CALL-IS. The sense of collaboration, camaraderie, and communication that we CALL-ISers enjoy today was no less present then.

I quickly discovered that there were no experts. In fact, there was no field. -- Roger Kenner

The late 1970’s and early ‘80’s saw a burgeoning interest in microcomputers, and true to their nature, educators were among the first to look for applications for the new medium. At Concordia University (Montreal QC Canada), Roger Kenner and his Learning Laboratories staff were building what would become an inventory of self-authored programs to address the learning needs of various educators. Creative processes often lead to the desire to learn more about those processes, but Kenner’s search for experts, readings, and conferences on the topic of microcomputers in ESL led to an unsettling and unpopulated landscape. Kenner then collaborated with David Sanders (methodology professor at the TESL Centre at Concordia) to produce a study examining “students’ reactions to the computer-based material,” whose results formed the basis for Sanders’ proposal for TESOL ’82 (Hawaii).

The ensuing 1983 Toronto Convention pre-convention symposium is well-documented in Kenner’s account. Presented at the invitation of Jean Hanscombe, then TESOL president, suffice to say a public, open session had to be hastily arranged to supplement the scheduled closed-door symposium. In a recent telephone interview, Kenner stated, “What made TESOL ’83 important was we were talking to each other (italics mine). It gelled.” Such was the momentum of the time; the popularity of the sessions undoubtedly led to the first Software Fair (1984) in Houston, with Vance Stevens as the first official Chair of the CALL-IS.

Some things change, more robust technologies replace their predecessors, but one thing is certain: the collaborative, caring spirt of people interested in improving other people’s lives is what makes the entire volunteer effort worthwhile. Asked to identify the most memorable aspect of his involvement in the CALL-IS, Roger Kenner asserted without hesitation, “Fellowship with the people [there].” And so it is today for every participant: a spirit of adventure and togetherness, and an interest in making lives better through education.

Aaron Schwartz
Lecturer, Technology Coordinator
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio, USA

2. Aaron Schwartz: Our Past- Technologically Speaking

Earlier this year, I was given the daunting task of writing an entry in the TESOL Encyclopedia for the Electronic Village. As I have only been involved with the steering committee and EV planning for the last few years, I had to dig through the archives to find more information about how it all got started.

Luckily, there turned out to be a wealth of resources saved in the archives of our IS webpage. I was amazed to read Roger Kenner and Vance Stevens’ firsthand accounts of the first meetings of the Interest Section and the first “Software Fare” that evolved out of TESOL’s hospitality rooms. (Kenner 1996, Stevens 2003)

As someone who came of age during this time, I felt nostalgia for the early Macs, IBMS, and Commodores that are described at some of the early “fares.” During the early years, the membership brought in their own machines (foreshadowing today’s attention on BYOD strategies). As a there was no readily-available Internet through which software could be downloaded, it was important to maintain software libraries so during the 80s and 90s, disks containing “freeware” were distributed during the early incarnations of the Electronic Village.

As the Internet started becoming more ubiquitous, the Electronic Village changed with the times. The Interest Section started using listservs to communicate, and a web presence was established. While CD-ROMs were still present, the old floppy disks ceased to appear. Presenters in the EV came to require Internet connections, and the choice of platform (at this time Mac or Windows) became less important to presenters as more web-tools became available.

CALL came to mean many things…all with their place in the Electronic Village. Taking advantage of the interconnectivity of the Internet, the Electronic Village (EVO) spun off of the original EV and became one of the original MOOCs (even before that term had been coined). Mobile devices, including digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets all found their way into our halls. It was during this time, when the “Hardware Fair” was established to differentiate devices from software (It was also during this time when I became involved). The mobile revolution also led to the establishment of the Mobile Apps for Education showcase, an increasingly popular event every year.

Stephanie Korslund
Director of the Language Studies Resource Center
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa, USA

3. Stephanie Korslund: Our Future

As an interest section we continue to grow every year. We’ve multiplied our membership from those early days and now boast 381 primary members and almost 1,500 non-primary members. We continue to create new partnerships both in and outside of TESOL, such as our partnership with IATEFL’s Learning Technologies Sig. This collaboration has been particularly fruitful with joint webinars, a book, and annual exchanges between our two organizations. We hope to continue to build on these collaborations and form new ones as we move forward.

Another aspect of CALL-IS that continues to grow each year is the Electronic Village Online. Developed years ago by leaders within the CALL interest section, it continues on as an annual series of online discussions and workshops open to all language teachers. This past year alone the event was supported by over 10 different TESOL interest sections as well as IATEFL’s Young Learners and Teenagers Sig. A point of pride for our interest section, we continue to support the EVO and recognize it’s importance as a means of professional development for all teachers wanting to learn more about technology and language learning.

CALL-IS continues to serve as a leader within TESOL. Looking towards the future, we hope to continue the trend of being TESOL’s source of information for technology in teaching and learning. One way we are currently doing this is with TESOL’s Classroom of the Future, a series of presentations held in the main exhibit hall during the annual TESOL convention. Classroom of the Future allows instructors to see where technology is going and explore what instructors on the cutting edge are doing with the latest and greatest technologies.

As we celebrate TESOL’s 50th anniversary next year and 32 years of the CALL-IS, it is important for us to take a step back and reflect on how far we have come. The field as a whole has gone through some major changes, for what many were doing on mainframes can now be done through the internet. We’ve come a long way and it’s really exciting to see where we are going. While technology will continue to change and evolve one thing is certain- there will always be a place for CALL and the CALL-IS.

Aaron: Yet despite all of the technological changes, the one thing that has remained the same as the community has grown and changed is that the passion for teaching, for staying abreast of the latest trends, and for motivating students through technology has passed from that core group in 1983 (many of whom are still active today) to the thousands of participants of our IS and others who look forward to visiting the EV year after year. Jack: Strong, knowledgeable, and dedicated contributions are a hallmark of the CALL-IS, and the contributors’ numbers are legion. Today the CALL-IS welcomes volunteers, presenters, and participants from almost every continent around the world, sharing made possible through these people. Stephanie: CALL-IS has come a long way from that very first software fair in Houston in 1984. In the past 31 years the fair has grown from a single event to a variety of presentations and workshops covering a range of technologies. What was once a hospitality room has turned into two dedicated spaces to CALL, now known as the Electronic Village and Technology Showcase. However, at our core we still remain the same. We are language teachers with a passion for integrating technology into teaching and learning and sharing that passion with others.

NOTE: This article has not been copy edited due to its length.

Stephanie Korslund is director of the Language Studies Resource Center in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She is currently working on finishing her PhD in instructional technology with an emphasis on CALL at Ohio University and hopes to graduate in May of 2015. She and her husband welcomed a new little one to their family in January 2015.

Jack Watson is the e-learning coordinator at the University of New Brunswick English Language Programme in Fredericton, NB, Canada. With more than 30 years of experience in ESL, his professional interests include online and blended learning, language learning through community contact, and teaching beginners. Extracurricular interests include blues guitar, amateur website building, photography, and playing with Siamese cats.

Aaron Schwartz has taught in Japan, China, and the United States. He is currently a senior lecturer and technology coordinator for the Ohio Program of Intensive English at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where he lives with his wife Sarah and three cats. He likes camping, kayaking, and all kinds of gaming.


Co-founding member and first officially appointed chair of TESOL CALL-IS

This article is based on an original prepared for the CALL-IS newsletter (Stevens, 2003). It draws on emailed recollections of Carol Chapelle, Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Deborah Healey, Roger Kenner, and Claire Bradin Siskin. This revision updates the earlier work.

The story of CALL-IS starts more or less with the 1982 TESOL Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which attracted a dozen presentations involving computers, notably one by David Sanders from Concordia University in Montreal on 'Design and Implementation of a Communicative CAI Program’ (at the time, what we now know as CALL was widely referred to as CAI, computer-assisted instruction). Joan Jamieson and Carol Chapelle also presented there, giving two skillfully choreographed back-to-back 3-hour sessions all day on Saturday, one on ESL lesson design and the other on programming in Pilot. Also at that conference, David Wyatt, whose software was on display at the ALA booth, chaired a 'Rap Session' on 'The Why, Where, and How of C.A.I.' (in addition to Carol and Joan, the panelists were Frank Otto, Anne Jackson-Muller, and Roberta Lavine).

The technology could be recalcitrant in that era. Anne and Peter Muller struggled to get their program to load ten minutes into the time their presentation was due to begin while their audience grew restless with the delay, and this was typical of the way the technology could be expected to work, or not, as the case may be. Vance Stevens was not listed in the program, but nevertheless made a cameo appearance at the video interest section's academic session, where he demonstrated a crude authoring system which would cue a video cassette tape, play a segment, ask a question, and depending on response, wind the tape to another frame, play that, and so on. The program required a ten-minute load to memory which had to be initiated during the change in speakers just prior to his turn, and that unfortunate speaker had to endure distraction from the clicking of the disk drives and whirring of the VCR at irregular intervals during his presentation. The drives had settled down by the time it was Vance’s turn to speak. To his great relief, text appeared on the screen, the tape played, and the program worked long enough for him to briefly overview it.

Hawaii was not the first TESOL event where interest in CAI had been shown. David Wyatt had also presented on a computer-based topic in Detroit in 1981, and Joan and Carol had done a computer-based presentation as early as 1980 at TESOL in San Francisco. According to Carol "It was an introduction to CALL and authoring on PLATO. We got terminals from a Bay area PLATO rep, had phone lines installed, and taught people how to author." The following year, Jamieson and Chapelle "looked at the benefits and limitations of three hardware/software environments for developing and using CALL: micro, mainframe, and instructional mainframe (the latter was PLATO). We had programmed the same material on the three, brought the three terminals to Detroit in my car, had phone lines installed in the conference room, and showed them live!!" Carol enjoys recalling these events: "These memories are very vivid because these events were extremely difficult to set up logistically, and they were very rewarding to conduct." Joan and Carol followed up their mini-course by sending a mailout to those involved. This was an early attempt at pulling together a community of CAI enthusiasts within TESOL, but Carol and Joan backed off from organizing further "after realizing how much secretarial work was involved!" (quoted from email 15 & 16 May 2003, with Carol's permission).

After 1982, it was clear that interest in CAI was growing regarding its potential for language learning. Therefore, an invited symposium was scheduled for the next annual TESOL conference in Toronto, 1983, and this symposium was notable for many things that both happened and didn't happen. One important thing to happen was that John Higgins argued eloquently that the name of our endeavor should be changed forthwith to CALL, to place the emphasis on 'learning', and we eventually became the CALL interest section. One thing that didn't happen at this symposium was that, since it was an 'invited' event, a volunteer was stationed at the door to check badges against her list of invitees; thus was Earl Stevick turned away and disappeared down the hall before anyone could catch him to invite him back.

However, the 40 some-odd people who had been invited did discuss becoming an interest section. Toward this end we went so far as to elect a chair. As David Sanders had taken the initiative to organize and convene the symposium, he was elected first chair of the interest section-to-be. Next on the agenda was election of an associate-chair, and many more deserving candidates declined to stand before Vance Stevens was finally elected associate chair of what we hoped would soon become an interest section in TESOL.

A steering committee was then elected, among which was Roger Kenner, who took on the role of ‘Official Secretary’. Roger maintained an archive of CALL-IS history from its inception up through 2003 (Kenner 2000, 2003). His "A Short History of the Founding of the CALL-IS Interest Section" deals specifically and in greater detail than here with the behind-the-scenes leading up to the Toronto symposium and the years immediately after (see Kenner, 1996).

Despite the fact that, according to Roger's record, the symposium had been orchestrated to lead to the formation of an interest section, this was another thing that didn't happen in Toronto. We soon learned that certain steps in the procedures we would have to follow could not be taken until the next year's convention. Meanwhile, David Sanders developed other interests and his place in our lobbying efforts was assumed by his colleague at Concordia, Roger Kenner. These developments were communicated among the principles (David and Roger in Canada, the TESOL front office in Virginia, and Vance in Hawaii) through snail mail.

We had managed to muster enough favorable reaction in Toronto among the higher-ups in TESOL that Roger and Vance were each treated to a night in the Hyatt in Houston, 1984, in order to attend a day-long TESOL leadership workshop there (Kenner, 1996, provides insights into what was going on between TESOL and the unofficial CALL interest section). Here we learned the hoops we would have to jump through in our interest section bid and how to approach them. Our proposal had to be put before each existing interest section, as each would have to decide how to direct its delegates to vote at the mid-week Interest Section Council meeting, where Roger and Vance would appear to make our case in person. The approval of other interest sections was crucial and fraught with politics. More interest sections meant greater subdivision of the pot of limited resources available to all interest sections (e.g. money, hence pages, for newsletters) and dilution of influence in the Interest Section Council, so that it was in the interest of the most powerful interest sections to stringently vet newcomers. However, our argument that we represented a substantive issue in TESOL backed with a groundswell of support won the day, and our petition was approved.

During the week, we met frequently with our co-conspirators in the spacious atrium of the Hyatt. When we learned we needed to quickly draft a Statement of Purpose for our group. Joan Jamieson picked up a napkin off the table and began jotting down our working notes and handed these over to Roger. Don Loritz, who was way ahead of most of us with his LISP-based parsers, happened to have brought his 'portable' with him (which in those days meant a kind of typewriter) so Roger went up to Don's room and clattered out the document we needed to attain the next hurdle in the ratification process.

Once an interest section is approved by the Interest Section Council its recommendation goes before the Executive Board, which meets after the conference and, assuming it supports the recommendations of the Interest Section Council, then appoints the new interest section's chair and associate chair . As our group's two spokespersons behind the scenes at the Houston convention, Roger and Vance made sure that the right people had our names spelled correctly, and we were informed of our appointments later in the year.

The concept of the CALL-IS Hospitality Room and its evolution into the Electronic Village is another thread that is worth pursuing in tracking the development of the interest section. Vance Stevens took the first step in this direction by organizing a software fair in Houston in 1984. There was no precedent for this, but those of us presenting became aware that each of us was developing software the others might like to examine at leisure. So, at the next software fair organized by Roger and Vance in New York in 1985, some of us stayed behind to copy our freeware onto each other's five-and-a-quarter inch truly flexible floppies before the computers we had assembled could be packed away at the end of the session.

Neither Roger nor Vance were in Anaheim in 1986, but Roger's documents state that the first 'Hospitality Room' appeared at that conference. In 1987, Macey Taylor turned a room in the convention hotel in Miami into a CALL-IS Hospitality Room. She set up her Amiga there along with some DOS PCs and Apple IIe computers and kept it open to those wishing to drop by and learn more about our interest section. Roger recalls that the following year, 1988 in Chicago, Peter Lee arranged to provide computers for a Hospitality Room and union rules had to be circumvented through discrete tipping to get them in and out of the conference center.

The idea of assembling computers in one place at annual conventions for the purpose of presenting language learning software led to the establishment of a regular venue for sharing and exchanging it. Soon, freeware and shareware software collections for Apple, Mac, PC, Commodore, etc. were maintained by separate librarians for each different platform. The collections themselves were brought to each conference; lists were published in newsletters during the year, and copies of the software were mailed to people who sent money to cover cost of postage and diskettes. In 1989 Claire Bradin Siskin compiled a number of these lists into one big list and brought it to San Antonio with her. She remembers that before the conference started, she ran off about 100 copies and put them in the HR. “They immediately disappeared, and people kept demanding copies ... so we took one master copy and put it at the central handouts booth. The funny thing then was that the master copy kept disappearing from the handouts booth, and they kept asking me for a new master copy! None of us had anticipated the great demand for the list, and this experience was probably what led Deborah and Norm to start the first 'official' CALL-IS list the following year." (quoted from email 17 May 2003, with Claire's permission)

Deborah Healey and Norm Johnson produced biannual print-version updates of the CALL-IS Software List from 1990 through the rest of the decade. The 1999 version was listed in TESOL Publications as late as 2004, and it was for a time a source of revenue for CALL-IS as well as for TESOL. Claire recalls one important aspect of this arrangement: "When CALL-IS gave TESOL the rights to sell the printed version of the list, Deborah made sure that CALL-IS retained the rights to the electronic version. This is significant because it meant that in the many workshops that Deborah and Claire and others gave in the subsequent years, we could legally distribute the electronic file on a floppy disk [and] why we can have the list available on the Web today" (quoted from email 17 May 2003, with Claire's permission). The list is still available as of this writing thanks to Deborah Healey’s having created “a new home” for it: here.

By now commercial vendors at TESOL had begun to take what was by-and-large a healthy interest in CALL-IS and the librarians were becoming heir to boxes of donated commercial software that had to be stored between conferences and then shipped to the next venue. In 1993, Deborah Healey and Jim Buell greatly aided the management of this situation by arranging through Lloyd Holliday at La Trobe University in Australia for the CALL-IS public domain, shareware, and commercial demo software collections (and the electronic version of the CALL-IS Software List ) to become available via FTP from CELIA (Computer Enhanced Language Instruction Archive; the collection was retrievable on May 15, 2003 from but was found to be timing out after May 20, 2003). Then in 1996, with the instigation of Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, these materials were ported to a CD-ROM which was published by TESOL, and listed in their catalog as late as 2004, just below the software list (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The last Internet Archive snapshot of was made July 26, 2004 here.

As the Hospitality Room grew into a place where conference delegates could come each year to try out a growing collection of commercial and non-commercial software in a setting free of promotion and bias, the job of arranging for the computers at each conference, installing software on them, and maintaining and networking them grew increasingly complex and labor-intensive. Roger mentions the guitar jams we used to have late at night in the CALL Hospitality Rooms. These occurred because CALL-IS volunteers and steering committee members used to have to work late nights after each conference day to maintain the computer software and networking in the HR (networking was a late development - initially we resorted to 'sneaker-net' - and Deborah nostalgically recalls hours happily "spent copying those damn shareware floppies" (quoted from email 16 May 2003, with Deborah's permission). We would keep our guitars under the tables during the day and send out for food and drinks as darkness fell. Early to late evening we'd maintain and copy, and man you shoulda heard us, just about midnight.

Roger notes that 1997 in Orlando was the year that the HR became known as the EV, or Electronic Village. Eventually the CALL-IS has succeeded in getting TESOL to contract out for setup, maintenance, and network administration of the EV, and CALL-IS organizers can now walk away from the conference like everyone else after the last discussion session has wrapped up. This has led to marked improvements in the stress and sleep deprivation levels of the organizers, but also to a loss of what used to be a great source of entertainment and community spirit in what was once a much smaller and very close-knit CALL-IS. But size has its advantages as well, and it is gratifying to see events set in motion so many years ago develop into an interest section whose many offshoots have become institutionalized for the benefit to so many people.

And that is how CALL IS began. But there's a lot more, much of it recorded in Roger's "The CALL Interest Section Community History" (Kenner, 2000, 2003). If you read through this, you can't fail to notice first that Roger has taken great pains to document our beginnings and maintain that record. You also can't fail to notice that as the years go on, the documentation gets sparser. Who is going to fill in the gaps and refresh the record before memory fades? Could it be you?


Healey, D. and Johnson, N. (1999). CALL IS Software List Produced by the TESOL CALL Interest Section. Available:

Kenner, R. (2000, 2003). The CALL Interest Section Community History. Available A version of this record was copied onto the CALL Interest Section Community History Moodle page where it contains numerous annotations by Steve Sharp:

Kenner, R. (1996-2000). A Short History of the Founding of the CALL-IS Interest Section. Available; another version (not dated) available

Stevens, V. (2003). How the TESOL CALL Interest Section Began. On CALL News, 21:1 (October 2003). Available reprinted in On CALL News, 25:1 (March 2009).

NOTE: This article has not been copy edited due to its length.

Vance Stevens teaches EFL at the UAE Air College in Al Ain. He had taught ESOL in Saudi Arabia, Hawaii, and Oman, serving as CALL specialist and coordinator, before moving to California briefly to work in software development. He returned to the Middle East as Amideast consultant and CALL coordinator for a language school before becoming lecturer in computing at Petroleum Institute, both in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Meanwhile he founded the online community Webheads in Action resulting in many online professional development endeavors including Learning2gether, podcasting weekly since 2010. He is on the editorial board of CALL Journal and has served on the coordination team of  Electronic Village Online and as editor of On the Internet, TESL-EJ since 2003.


Greetings all! I hope you’ve had a chance to slow down and enjoy some time off this summer.

I’m pleased to share with you the latest edition of On CALL. This issue has links in the sidebar to the Electronic Village Online (EVO); the call for proposals is found here. Proposals are welcome on any topic relevant to TESOL (not only CALL) and sessions run between 10 January and 14 February 2016. Potential moderators can find instructions on how to create proposal pages here. Proposals are due 6 September 2015. For information on past session types, look here.

On the CALL homepage, there are also links to webcasts and presentations from the Toronto convention. While on our homepage, please take a few minutes to take our poll; I am interested to know how people read our newsletter.

Finally, in this newsletter there are a few articles that explore pedagogy and teaching using CALL. Stephanie Korslund of Iowa State University, Jack Watson, CALL-IS chair-elect, and Aaron Schwartz collaboratively explore the history of the CALL-IS, as we celebrate TESOL’s 50th anniversary. The article highlights some of the great things about our IS and is well worth the read. Thanks, too, to Vance Stevens, who wrote his perspective on the history of the IS. Vance (in case you didn’t know) was one of the early founders of the IS and continues to be very active.

Also in this issue: Ju Seong Lee and Jon Bair offer some research on language and intercultural learning through a tele-collaborative project between American and Spanish universities. InFrom the Students’ Perspectives,Jenifer Edens recaps her presentation on the top 10 uses of a private Facebook group for your students. Melanie Jipping offers an alternative to PowerPoint presentations in an article entitled “Why Not Teach Prezi for Listening and Speaking?”. Heather Gaddis gives us four sound principles for effective online teaching (and all teaching); Edo Forsythe reports on THE JALT CALL conference; and Suzan Stamper, in her 10th anniversary “Making Connections” column, introduces some of the faces (new and old) in CALL-IS: Jose Silva, Katie Mitchell, John Madden, and Nina Liakos.

I would like to especially thank the newsletter editing team of Justin Nicholes, a PhD student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Camille Bondi in Kuwait; Grazzia Maria Mendoza, MEd, Zamorano University Honduras; Ravneet Parmar, an ESL teacher who is now studying criminology; and Christina Kitson, an instructor who is working on a TESOL PhD at Kansas State University. I wouldn’t have been able to put this newsletter out this year without their help.

If there is something that you would like to see in our newsletter (or if you’d like to join the newsletter team), please contact me.


Originally from Cincinnati, Larry was a Peace Corps volunteer in Rich, Morocco from 1986–88, and then graduated with an MA in TESOL/linguistics from Ohio University in 1992. He has worked with Partners of the Americas in Venezuela, and he lived in Isahaya, Japan, for a year. Prior to his position at Divine Word College, he worked in UT Martin for 11 years, where he published the TNTESOL Newsletter.



Jon Bair
MA-TESL Student
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Illinois, USA

Ju Seong (John) Lee
Doctoral Student
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Illinois, USA


In an ever globalizing, progressing world, teachers face more and more challenges. They face an educational landscape where technological and intercultural competences are becoming a part of learning standards across curriculum. A supposed “standard” English is becoming less of a reality, and the need to be able to use English communicatively is increasingly in demand. The challenges are not necessarily more difficult to accomplish than previous pedagogical requirements, but new these challenges necessitate new approaches. As we will illustrate, these challenges are not out of reach but can be met by normal classroom teachers in real-world by implementing tele-collaborative projects in their classroom.

Randall Sadler at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Melinda Dooly at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) demonstrated this to their respective classes of pre-service and in-service teachers, ranging from undergraduate students to those in the later stages of PhD programs, by giving them hands-on experience as students completing projects tele-collaboratively. The project was highly successful, both for native speakers of English (NES) and non-native speakers of English (NNES). This success is ultimately measured in student outcomes, but can be summarized here as having provided the students meaningful opportunities to use English. This means that it was used as a mediating tool to complete a complex task, or, in short, the students could not complete the collaborative task without one another and without communicating in English. This increased the authenticity of the language use, increased student motivation because they have a real reason to use the language, and allowed for negotiation of meaning and comprehensible input and output (Long, 1996; Long, 2015; Swain, 2000; Dörnyei, 1994). Furthermore, by doing it long-distance through tele-collaboration, it gives students practical use with meaningful technology as well as facilitating intercultural exchange and cooperation. This article examines the project from two students’ perspectives and explains the project in practical and generalizable ways to make it more readily applicable to teachers’ classrooms in both ESL and EFL contexts.

The Project

The project functionally lasted an entire 15-week fall semester, though the students did not meet their tele-collaborative teammates until the fifth week, making the collaborative portion of the project only nine weeks. The desired outcome of the project was for each team, consisting of both UIUC and UAB students, to create curriculum and class materials for a teachers to use in integrating a tele-collaborative project in their classrooms. This project was guided by instructions on what should be accomplished in each week’s meeting as well as private self and peer evaluation.

Several weeks before the project meetings began, the students at both locations created introductory videos and uploaded them to Youtube (the writers' introductory videos: 1 and 2). This activity was intended to reduce students’ affective filters, giving them a low-risk, rehearsed, and revisable opportunity to introduce themselves in their L2 before being placed in spontaneous, unrehearsed, potentially nerve-wracking conversation.

However, not everything in a project of this nature can be rehearsed, and some direct communication in English between peers of different L1’s must occur for progress to be made on the tangible student outcomes of the collaboration (the project) and the more intangible outcomes of improved English proficiency, intercultural competence, and technological prowess. For this, the students needed to decide what tasks were best conducted synchronously and which were best conducted asynchronously, though for younger students, this decision could be easily guided or mandated by the cooperating teachers.

For synchronous tasks, the groups used either Skype or Google Hangouts to conduct videoconferences, share written work, discuss elements of the project, make group decisions, and develop intercultural friendships. Jon Bair’s group because of its familiarity preferred Skype for all of the group members, while John Lee’s group used Google Hangouts, which is built into Gmail, an email service all of his group members used. Despite some superficial and underlying technological differences of how the two services work, they both offer the same tools that are critical for successful tele-collaborative projects, such as audio and/or videoconferencing for multiple students in multiple locations (potentially the minimum required), instant messaging, file transfers, and hyperlink sharing. Though these familiar tools have their own pros and cons, they both work to facilitate one call for whole group meetings, the main purpose we needed them for in our project.

To do asynchronous collaboration, both groups used Google Drive (Google Docs) to create documents similar to Microsoft Word documents that are hosted online and can be edited by any or all of the group members at any time, including all at the same time. One way that groups would use this is by having one person lead the writing while another follows a few sentences behind fixing grammatical errors. Different pairs in different sections of the document can reproduce this.

Perspectives and Applications

Of the many things written on tele-collaborative projects, much less has been written from the perspective of the student. However, from our perspectives as a native speaker of English and as a non-native speaker of English, and both professional teachers, we believe our points of view are unique and valuable to ensuring that tele-collaborative projects are as highly effective in-classrooms as possible.

NES Perspective

As a NES, I found the project to be compelling and challenging in the role that I assumed due to my perceived status by the rest of my group, which was made up of only NNES’s. In some ways, I started as the group leader, due to my comfort using the language, yet was weaned off of group leadership as NNES group mates were successively chosen to pick up the mantle of leadership. Additionally, I was put into a teaching role, which increased my own metalinguistic awareness and understanding of my own language. As a teacher of ESL, this comes somewhat naturally, but for our native speaking students, this is a huge opportunity for them to get to know the underlying semantic and syntactic structures of their language. Unfortunately, ESL/EFL pre- and in-service teachers conducted this project, so it was less of a language exchange or challenge to use English, but it was a cross-cultural, collaborative experience. However, it would be both even more fun and challenging in a less English-focused iteration of the project, such as a time when there are no NES of English and the students are L1 speakers of different languages, using English as a lingua franca.


As a NNES, I had several interesting observations and experiences. My group originally consisted of seven members (UIUC- one American and one Korean; UAB- five Spanish), and the American student acted in a leading role. He called everyone’s name, asked questions, made jokes, and shifted topics whereas the rest of the members responded to his questions or suggestions. It was after three weeks when something interesting happened in our group. Due to personal reasons, he had to drop the course, and consequently leave our group. What was intriguing and even surprising was that Spanish students including myself suddenly became very talkative. Oftentimes, our “one-hour” online meeting lasted for around 90 minutes and even up to two hours. From a SLA perspective, it was a positive phenomenon that non-native speakers had more opportunities to hear and use the target language. Therefore, it can be inferred that non-native speaking students became more open and relieved linguistically and psychologically in the absence of NES in that varieties of Spanish English and Korean English are more acknowledged. When a NES was in our group, the NNES consciously and unconsciously strove to use and resemble one particular English variety – American English. Without NES, NNES as the owners of our Englishes shifted our focus more on the content than on the language itself.

Prompting Questions for Application

As you consider this example of a successful tele-collaborative project, reflect on these following questions to aid in brainstorming a tele-collaborative project in your classroom and in that of a cooperating teacher:

  1. Use Melinda Dooly’s “School Bus Metaphor” to guide you:

    a. Where are the students coming from (prior knowledge/current abilities)?
    b. Where are they going (objectives/outcomes)?
    c. How are they going to get there?
    d. How will you know when they have arrived (assessment)?

  2. How can you further accommodate for your students and their specific needs as you plan your project?

  3. How can you give students who desire more planning time as opposed to pure, unrehearsed conversation or lower-level learners opportunities to prepare themselves to interact and collaborate?

  4. As you are planning, what activities or tasks would be best conducted synchronously and which would be best conducted asynchronously?


Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Motivation and motivating in the foreign language classroom. The modern language journal 78(3), 273-284.

Long, M. (2015). Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Swain, M. (2000). The output hypothesis and beyond: Mediating acquisition through collaborative dialogue. In J.P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 97-114). New York: Oxford University Press.

NOTE: This article has not been copy edited due to its length.

Jon Bair is an MA-TESL student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is interested in teacher training, project-based learning, tele-collaborative learning, and improving education in the developing world.

Ju Seong (John) Lee is a doctoral student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include World Englishes, Technology-integrated Learning in Second/Foreign Language Classroom (via Videoconference, Tele-collaboration, Wearable devices), Self-directed Teacher Professional Development (TPD).


This article is related to "Facebook: If You Can't Beat 'Em…" a presentation originally given in the Electronic Village at the TESOL convention in Dallas, Texas, USA, and then again in Portland, Oregon, USA and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rather than asking adult students to register for and then regularly visit a new website to navigate an unfamiliar classroom management tool, the teacher can meet students where they are by using Facebook as an interactive online course management system. It is not necessary for teachers to grant students access to their own personal content on Facebook; it can be done without “friending” students. Because students are already accustomed to the features of this social media platform, there is no learning curve as there is with other class management tools.

Another benefit of Facebook is that most students already automatically receive notifications from it or visit the site several times a day.

These are the top 10 tasks you can use a private Facebook group for with your students to build community and keep them informed.

1. Introductions

2. Facilitating conversations about aspects of culture shock.

3. Sharing ideas for essay topics.

4. Practicing certain grammar structures (e.g., using subordinate clauses to write complex sentences).

5. Conducting polls.

    6. Posting deadlines for applications, dates for activities on campus, homework assignments, tests, and holidays under the “Events” tab. (For details about creating events, visit

      Note: As you enter each event throughout the term, they appear on the group’s main page in the order you create them, but Facebook also automatically puts the events in chronological order under the group’s “Events” tab. These events also appear on the students’ calendars on Facebook.

      7. Posting links to videos or websites for additional listening, reading, grammar, or vocabulary practice (e.g., TED Talks or a site such as Quizlet with vocabulary flashcards).

          8. Posting emergency announcements or weather warnings.

          9. Sharing photographs of group photos or class events.

          10. Sharing PowerPoint files, Word files, or other documents.


          1. Use Facebook groups only if all your students are adults.
          2. In the group settings for privacy, select “Closed” so only class members can see what you and class members post. (For details about creating a private group, visit
          3. In the group settings for membership approval, select “Any member can add members, but an admin must approve them,” to prevent students from granting membership to anyone who is not in your class.
          4. Post some content in the group before you invite students to join so they will see that it is useful as soon as they join. For example, you may post the assignment for students to introduce themselves, and under “Events,” you may post important deadlines, test dates, and graduation day.
          5. To invite your students to join the group, you may email them a link to the group, or you may let them search for it by name on Facebook.
          6. Instead of forbidding students to share off-topic posts (e.g., links to funny videos, an excessive number of class photos, or requests for a ride to school), create a second group for extracurricular material.

          To see an example of a Facebook group for an ESL class, visit our site here.

          Jenifer Edens teaches international students in the Language and Culture Center at the University of Houston.


          Prezi: No More Death by PowerPoint

          More often than not, final projects in speaking classes include student presentations. Listening to 30+ students read off their PowerPoint presentations is enough to induce any ESL/EFL instructor to death by PowerPoint. Although highly effective in aiding students in organizing and presenting their topics in a visual, linear manner, PowerPoint leaves much to be desired as the platform of choice for finals week. As listening and speaking teachers in the 21st century, we ought to seek innovative ways for students to complete presentation projects. Enter, Prezi.

          Professionals in the field may use Prezi for their own presentations, so why not teach students how to use this wonderful tool? In a study on Prezi, Brock and Brodahl (2013) discovered that listeners found presentations given were highly engaging. Here are seven major reasons to teach students how to use Prezi:

          1. Prezi is technological and can engage next generation learners.
          2. It’s flexible, allowing students to seamlessly add YouTube videos, images, music, and hyperlinks to presentations.
          3. It’s creative, with endless possibilities for presentation canvases.
          4. It’s sharable, and students doing group presentations can access them in the cloud.
          5. Prezi is visually interesting, partially because it curbs the need for text-heavy slides common in PowerPoint.
          6. It’s easy to use, and once you get the hang of it, it’s fun!
          7. It’s confidence-building because students are learning an appealing platform that allows them to represent their individualism in a technologically current manner.

          Although some opponents of Prezi cite the zooming feature (the ability to zoom into a frame of text/images) as detracting from presentations or even inducing nausea, I have yet to experience this with my students’ Prezis. The zooming feature could be likened to animation in PowerPoint. Once students realize that the overuse of animation and/or zooming features is annoying, they typically use them with moderation. Another stated drawback to the use of Prezi in the past was the user’s inability to print or save Prezis onto a computer. However, this is no longer the case; it’s now possible turn your Prezi frames into printable pdfs. After you have installed Prezi software onto your computer or tablet, it is easy to download a presentation to avoid being dependent on spotty WiFi. Conversely, having Prezi in the cloud means students can email their instructor links to their Prezis, making the presentation day student-search-for-USB-sticks obsolete.

          Giving students the gift of Prezi can aid them in confidently presenting on a variety of topics. My low-intermediate international college students have successfully presented on topics ranging from family, their favorite artist, planning a road trip, and comparing and contrasting international Cinderella stories. From my experience guiding students in their Prezi projects, I recommend starting out small. Give students a quick tutorial by modeling a Prezi in class and set them off in a computer lab with a very doable, easy project, such as “share your favorite color.” Have volunteer students informally share their favorite color Prezis at the end of class. Then, follow up with a homework Prezi speaking assignment such as “introduce a family member or friend.”

          Here is an example of one student’s Prezi on his spring break: and another student’s Prezi on her favorite artist, Banksy. By the end of the semester, my listening and speaking students were having fun creating Prezis like pros, and my final day of class projects was much more enjoyable for everyone.


          Brock, S. & Brodahl, C. (2013). A Tale of Two Cultures: Cross Cultural Comparison in Learning the Prezi Presentation Software Tool in the US and Norway. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research. 12, 95-119.

          Melanie Jipping is currently a senior instructor in the American Studies Program at Tokyo International University of America in Salem, Oregon, USA, and has taught at a variety of institutions including other liberal arts–based programs, intensive English programs, and community colleges since 2003. She is currently the TESOL HEIS Newsletter book review editor.


          In 1987, Chickering and Gamson published an article entitled "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education," which has been widely used to evaluate face-to-face classes. This article takes four of the principles from this article and applies them to the online teaching context. The principles covered focus on clear deadlines, prompt feedback, active learning, and high expectations.

          Principle 1: Instruction should include clear deadlines.

          In Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) original list, this principle is most closely related to emphasizing time on task. While the role that an online instructor has in helping students learn time management may be different from that of a traditional professor, having clear deadlines can be helpful for students. For instance, in addition to having clear deadlines at the end of assignments, it is also important to have intermediate deadlines. As Graham, Cagiltay, Lim, Craner, and Duffy (2001) point out, having deadlines creates a point of contact between professor and students.

          Having deadlines for components of a large project rather than for only the final product will help the professor monitor students’ progress. Creating intermediate deadlines will also help to create more points of contact between students because it will ensure that students follow the steps of an assignment without getting lost and that they engage with their fellow students in the online environment. This can be especially helpful in discussion assignments where some students will post at the beginning of the assignment period and then never return to the discussion forum to see other students’ contributions. By requiring students to post once by a certain date and then respond to a classmate at a later date, it is more likely they will read and reflect on their classmates’ work.

          Principle 2: Instruction should include prompt feedback and course progress indicators.

          This principle focuses on what Graham et al. (2001) refer to as information and acknowledgment feedback. Without face-to-face contact, it becomes even more critical for professors to inform students of their progress via prompt information feedback. Information feedback in forums and other discussion assignments also allows student to know that the professor is there and lets the professor guide the discussion when necessary. In addition, without the ability to physically give a professor an assignment, students also need to know that an assignment has been received to avoid confusion.

          This type of feedback can be given by the instructor via email or through the course management system used. For example, many course management systems allow professors to attach feedback to the original assignment via annotations or file uploads. A professor could upload the rubric used to grade the assignment with the student’s grade for each criterion highlighted or marked.

          Finally, when appropriate, feedback should be linked to a course progress indicator system so that students can keep track of how they are doing in a course. Such a tool would also give the instructor an easier way to monitor students who may need an extra support.

          Principle 3: Instruction should include tasks that promote active learning.

          Graham et al. (2001) suggest that, in the online course context, active learning usually means completing projects. However, what constitutes active learning will vary from course to course and should be left up to the discretion of the course instructor or designer as well as be in line with the learning philosophy of the course and program.

          For example, having students contribute to a class dictionary by adding their own definitions and examples of concepts covered throughout the semester would allow for students to create content as well as review concepts previously seen. Whether the task comes in the form of an exercise, a project, or something else, the task should enhance the content of the course (Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, 2010). Simply transferring a traditional course exactly as previously taught to an online platform without careful consideration of how to take advantage of tools available for online learning will not result in an engaging learning experience for students.

          Principle 4: Instruction should communicate and prepare students for high expectations.

          As Graham et al. (2001) point out, high expectations can be communicated in a variety of ways, including models of student work with explanations and sample cases. Saving students’ work from previous semesters is one way of providing students with models. High expectations can also be communicated via a clear course syllabus, assignment descriptions, and the type of feedback that the instructor gives to students.

          The instructor should also prepare students for high expectations by providing them with rubrics and other grading tools before the assignment is undertaken by the students. These grading tools guide students when they are completing the assignment and also encourage self-assessment, which will help students have high expectations for themselves. Students cannot be expected to meet high expectations when they are not aware of what the standards are. Making students aware of expectations is important in any educational setting, but it becomes more important in the online setting because there are fewer points of contact between the students, and students new to online learning might not feel comfortable reaching out to the professor to ask clarifying questions.

          The principles described above are general best practices in the field of education. However, the online teaching and learning environment presents challenges and opportunities different from those of the traditional face-to-face context. Meeting these challenges and taking advantage of these opportunities will make the online learning experience for students less daunting and more engaging.


          Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 39, 3–7.

          Graham, C., Cagiltay, K., Lim, B., Craner, J., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). The technology source archives - Seven principles of effective teaching: A practical lens for evaluating online courses. The Technology Source Archives. Retrieved from

          Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. (2010). The online course evaluation project overview. Retrieved from

          Heather Gaddis has been an ESL/EFL teacher in the United States, Mexico, and Turkey since 2008. She became interested in teaching online after taking a TESOL course. She then completed a master’s degree in educational technology.


          When and where did the conference take place?

          The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) CALL Special Interest Group's annual conference—JALTCALL 2015—took place 5–7 June 2015 at Kyushu Sangyo University, in Fukuoka, Japan. This was the 22nd annual JALTCALL conference where teachers, researchers, and commercial vendors shared research and practical applications in the field of CALL.

          Who/what organizations/people were involved?

          More than 100 presentations and workshops were offered by an international array of language teaching professionals. The types of sessions available to the more than 200 attendees included show and tell, poster presentations, workshops, and paper presentations, as well as commercial demonstrations of cutting-edge programs and materials in the field of EFL education.

          The conference was highlighted by a keynote address by Dr. Ema Ushioda, of the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, titled "Engaging With Technologies for Language Learning: Perspectives on Autonomy and Motivation." The plenary address by Rab Patterson of the International Christian University, Japan, titled "Creativity, Innovation, and 21st Century Literacies as a Path to Student Academic Autonomy" energized attendees' efforts in employing state-of-the-art technology in language learning. Details about the presentations and videos of the keynote and plenary speeches are available on the conference website.

          What were the highlights of the conference?

          The conference weekend opened on Friday evening with two technology workshops about the use of wiki pages for online intercultural collaborations by the author of this report, and on the use of digital badges in the gamification of Moodle by Gordon Bateson. The highlights of the conference presentations included 36 paper presentations about using CALL methodologies. Examples of the papers presented included

          • Developing Learner Autonomy in Online English Language Courses,by Maureen Andrade and Ellen Bunker,
          • Cycles of Reflection: Using Technology in CALL Teacher Education,by Marcia Johnson

          • Scribblenauts: The Principled Adaptation of a Video Game for Classroom Use,by Stephen Case.

          Additionally, the conference offered 32 show and tell sessions, including

          • Designing speaking activities using Google's Web Speech API, by Paul Daniels,
          • Developing a Digital English Phonetics Course, by Malcolm Swanson, and
          • Using Lingt Language for Oral Reports or Speaking Assignments, by Cathrine-Mette Mork.

          The six workshops included

          • Integrating Scratch Coding Tasks in a Science and Engineering University ESL Classroom,by Suwako Uehara, and
          • A Cross-Context Framework for Project-Based English Using Film,by David Laurence and Ashley Ford.

          Finally, the 17 poster sessions included

          • Examining Student Attitudes to the Use of Plagiarism-Detection Software: A Pilot Study at a Japanese University,by Nick Canning, and
          • A Paperless Final Exam With iPads, by Alexander Cameron and Nicholas Bovee.

          One of the biggest events of the year is the JALTCALL Conference Networking Reception. This year's amazing reception was held under the palm trees on the beach at Luigans. The attendees enjoyed seeing old friends, sharing thoughts and experiences in CALL, and meeting new colleagues. It is always a memorable event, and this year's reception attendees shared robust interactions with one another with drinks in hand while savoring the fresh ocean breeze.

          What about future JALTCALL conferences?

          The location of JALTCALL 2016 is still being decided, but this annual conference is normally held in early or mid-June. Details will be posted on the JALTCALL Special Interest Group's website. We hope that more TESOL and CALL-IS members can join us at JALTCALL 2016 to share their experiences and best practices in the field of CALL. Questions about the JALTCALL Special Interest Group or JALTCALL conferences can be directed to me.

          Edo Forsythe is an associate professor of English and foreign language education at Hirosaki Gakuin University, in Hirosaki, Japan. He is an EdD candidate at Northcentral University with a focus on EFL and technology in language learning. He has published several articles on the topic of technology in language learning.



          For each newsletter, I invite members to answer a set of questions:

          • What is your favorite platform?
          • What is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
          • What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
          • What was your favorite CALL creation?
          • What are you working on now?
          • What area would you like to see developed/researched?
          • In a sentence, what advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?

          I hope you enjoy this space to compare experiences, share advice, nurture inspiration, and make connections within our community.

          Please e-mail me at Suzan Stamper if you have suggestions or contributions to "Making Connections."

          José Antônio da Silva

          José Antônio da Silva holds an MA in TESOL from Oklahoma City University. He has been an EFL teacher for over 25 years and currently teaches at Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brazil where he is part of the EdTech Team, and as such, is constantly training teachers in the use of computer assisted language learning.


          Affiliation: Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brazil

          Years in the CALL-IS: Indirectly since 2006 when I started taking sessions in the EVO. In 2014, I attended my first TESOL Conference on a scholarship and gave two presentations at CALL.

          Q: What is your favorite platform?

          A: Google Apps for Education because it includes Google Sites, Google Forms, Google Slides, and so on. (See

          Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/web page?

          A: A wiki is an indispensable tool. It is the ideal place for collaboration.

          Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?

          A: One of the most unexpected sources for me is Flipboard ( It is my daily news and I always find out about improvements in old tools/platforms and new developments while reading my feeds on it.

          Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?

          A. My favorite CALL creations so far have been my wikis on PBworks ( for my students. I am also very proud of one I co-created while taking an online course at

          Q: What are you working on now?

          A. Right now, I am working on a flipping project and mobile learning. I am also involved in the maker movement and I am trying to mix digital and physical making.

          Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?

          A: I would like to see more development in platforms for augmented reality.

          Q: In a sentence, what advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?

          To those just starting out, I would say “Be fearless and dare to explore all the possibilities CALL offers to you.”

          Katie Mitchell

          Katie Mitchell develops CALL materials at Rosetta Stone. Before working at Rosetta Stone, she received her Masters in TESOL and taught adults in the United States and abroad. She is currently on the CALL-IS steering committee. She is interested in second language writing instruction, educational games, digital literacy, and computer assisted language learning.


          Affiliation: Rosetta Stone

          Years in the CALL-IS: 5 years

          Q: What is your favorite platform?

          A. To be honest, I’d have to say mobile. It’s amazing what we can do with our smart phones now. I have to work very hard not to be glued to my iPhone.

          Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/web page?

          A: The ability to self publish is so powerful. That can mean wikis or Google sites or so many other things, but together they let students and teachers be more in control of the content.

          Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?

          A: Games. Although I’m not an avid gamer, I find myself often inspired by them.

          Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?

          A: I developed a vocabulary component for an Academic English program in Germany. It used (manual) spaced repetition and had an extensive online component with corpus-based activities and other practice.

          Q: What are you working on now?

          A: I am working on a business English reading course. I’m geeking out about tools that help determine text difficulty. It’s amazing that one of the first of these, the Gunning Fog Index, was developed in the 50s, but there’s still so much room for improvement.

          Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?

          A: Simulations and games. I think there is so much potential to capture both the short bursts of activity people have on their phone and the hours of serious gaming people do in their free time.

          Q: In a sentence, what advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?

          A: Write to the CALL-IS Listserv. There are so many people on there just waiting to discuss anything related to CALL.

          John P. Madden

          John P. Madden is an associate professor of applied linguistics at St. Cloud State University. His interests include listening comprehension, computer-assisted language learning, service learning, and teacher education. He's a past chair of the CALL-IS.


          Affiliation: St. Cloud State University, Department of English, Minnesota, USA
          Years in the CALL-IS: Not sure -- possibly since I joined TESOL in 1996, so that would be 18-19 years.

          Q: What is your favorite platform?
          A: Mac, but I like Windows and Linux, too.

          Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/web page?

          A: Anything that supports communication and interaction --- such as the Internet, word processors, web browsers, audio and video recorders/players -- while supporting users' privacy and freedom of action -- would be close to indispensable.

          Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?

          A: All sources are welcome. I read and listen to popular and scholarly sources. My students, colleagues, friends, and family all give me good information, too.

          Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
          A: I don't really have a favorite. As above, anything that supports interaction and learning, while being useful, and supporting users' privacy is a potential favorite. Typically on my home and school computers, I have word processors/office suites (Open Office, MS Office, Apple's iWork), a sound recorder (Audacity), and web browsers with plugins. I'm also interested in corpus analysis (AntConc, by Lawrence Anthony), qualitative data analysis (TAMS Analyzer, by Mark Weinstein) and quantitative analysis (I'm working on learning more about R.). But I don't have a favorite.

          Q: What are you working on now?

          A: I'm interested in digital literacy and how that relates to how we learn language and come to understand each other.

          Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?

          A: How do teachers develop digital literacy?

          Nina Liakos

          Nina Liakos grew up in the pre-computer era in New Jersey; went to college in Rochester, NY; lived for three years in Paris, France (where she started teaching EFL); and taught in various intensive English programs in the Washington, DC area from 1974-2015, mostly at the University of Maryland's Maryland English Institute. She first became involved with CALL after participating in the EVO 2006 session, "Becoming a Webhead" (BaW06).


          Affiliation: none (I just retired)! Former affiliation: University of Maryland, Maryland English Institute

          Years in the CALL-IS: 8 years from 2007 – 2015

          Q: What is your favorite platform?

          A: I guess Blogger ( and WordPress ( I created my first blog during the BaW2006 session and have since created thirty Blogger blogs, including class blogs, blogs to support conference presentations and EVO sessions I participated in, a travel blog, and team blogs for webheads attending the annual TESOL convention (see the most recent one here). In addition to these mostly temporary blogs, I also maintain two on-going WordPress blogs: my reading blog and my nature diary.

          Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/web page?

          A: See above (Blogger and WordPress). But my favorite website is TED (, both for myself and for students. Students can scaffold talks with judicious use of captioning and their L1 and in English; with practice, they can dispense with the captions and just listen. It's great listening practice, plus you always learn something new, interesting, or funny.

          Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?

          A: I don't know about unexpected, but recently I have learned a lot from Vance Stevens' newest adventure in free online professional development, Learning2gether. Almost every Sunday and many other days as well, Vance arranges webinars, interviews, and conversations with webheads and others who are doing interesting things with technology in educational settings. (If you can't make the live webcast, you can always check out the recordings afterwards.) It's informal and fun; listeners can take part in a free-wheeling conversation with Vance and his guest(s) in a Google hangout or other venue.

          Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?

          A: I suppose it was the first "Webheads & Friends" blog that I created for the TESOL Convention in Seattle in 2007, where I first met so many webheads face to face. Unfortunately, most of the photos that made the blog so lovely vanished when BubbleShare went offline. For teaching, I have created many blogs and wikis to support classes; one of my favorites was the one I made for a beginner's reading/writing/grammar class at Maryland English Institute in 2013, which drew heavily on YouTube videos to support grammar lessons <>. Sadly, most of the links and embedded videos no longer work.

          Q: What are you working on now?

          A: Although I'm now retired, I am still a member of the EVO Coordination Team, which I led for the past two years. The EVO pioneered open, free professional development before anyone had ever heard of MOOCs, and we are still one of the best PD opportunities in the ESL/EFL universe! Those who participate actively in an EVO session can learn so much while getting to know colleagues around the world.

          Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?

          A:I t looks like the coming thing is all about mobile devices. I finally broke down and got my own smart phone last December, but never used it for teaching (and being retired will probably not have the opportunity to do so). I know there's a lot of potential there, and all students here have smart phones (both adults and college-bound students).

          Q: In a sentence, what advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?

          A: Technology doesn't make anybody learn better--but it can make learning more fun, and as teachers we need to help our students develop multiple literacies so that they can use technology safely.

          NOTE: This article has not been copy edited due to its length.

          Suzan is Senior Lecturer and English Language Team Leader at Yew Chung Community College in Hong Kong. She has been a CALL-IS member since 1995.



          The CALL- IS Newsletter, On CALL, encourages submission of many types of articles related to CALL: software, website or book reviews, announcements, reports on conferences, presentations or webcasts that you might have participated in. If you have suggestions, ideas, or questions, send them to Larry Udry.


          Articles should

          1. Have a title (written in ALL CAPS)
          2. Have the author’s name, email, affiliation, city, country (in that order)
          3. Have an author photo (jpeg format); a head and shoulder shot (optional but encouraged!), clear, 120 px height max 160 px total, preferably including the person's name who took the shot.
          4. Have a 50-word teaser for the newsletter homepage.
          5. Have between 800 and 1,500 words (including tables).
          6. Have no more than five citations.
          7. Have a 2- to 3-sentence author biography.
          8. Follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA style).
          9. Be in MS Word (.docx) or rich text (.rtf) format.
          10. Have hyperlinks that have meaningful urls.
          11. Have charts, graphs, audio files, video files, and images that enhance the article.

          Book reviews of between 300 and 500 words should provide the reviewer's analysis of books that are relevant to the practice and theory of CALL.

          We like to publish the newsletter twice a year, in February/March and July/August. To that end, the deadline for the February/March newsletter is 20 February, and the deadline for the July/August edition is 30 June. Please send your contributions to Larry Udry.


          Statement of Purpose

          TESOL’s Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS) exists to define issues and standards in the field of computer-mediated language instruction, promote research and development in the area of computer-based language learning, and disseminate information about CALL to ESL/EFL educators worldwide.

          CALL IS 2014–15 Community Leaders

          Steering Committee and Electronic Village Coordination 2015–2016

          Steering Committee Officers

          IS Chair

          Stephanie Korslund

          IS Chair-Elect

          Jack Watson

          Past Chair

          Aaron Schwartz

          Newsletter Editor

          Larry Udry

          TESOL Community Manager

          Suzan Stamper

          Steering Committee


          Katie Mitchell


          Christine Sabieh


          Luke Coffelt


          Abraham Reshad


          Maria Tomeho-Palermino


          Nellie Deustch


          Jeff Kuhn


          Claudio Fleury


          José Antonio Da Silva

          Event Leads

          Technology Fairs

          Claudio Fleury
          José Antonio da Silva

          ( )

          Snea Thinsan
          Sandy Wagner
          Katie Mitchell

          Developers’ Showcase (

          Andy Bowman

          Mobile Apps for Education Showcase (

          Tom Robb

          Classroom of the Future (

          Susan Gaer
          Dianna Lippencott
          Jeff Kuhn

          CALL for newcomers

          John Madden

          Ask us

          Tom Robb

          Deborah Healey

          EV Classics

          Christine Sabieh
          Maria Tomeho-Palermino


          Other Duties

          EV Online

          Nina Liakos

          EV Guides/Volunteers

          Sandy Wagner


          Steve Sharp

          CALL-IS Community Email List

          Suzan Stamper

          Steering Committee Listserv

          Maria Tomeho-Palermino

          EV Events Coordinators Planning List

          Maria Tomeho-Palermino

          Nominating Committee

          Aaron Schwartz
          Christine Sabieh
          Katie Mitchell
          Luke Coffelt

          EV Event Registration/Database

          Justin Shewell

          Program Book Manager

          Justin Shewell

          Learning Technologies SIG (IATEFL) Liaison