March 2016
On Call



Greetings, Colleagues

Whether you’re a member of the TESOL CALL-IS or of another TESOL interest section, I hope you’ve been having a very successful 2016. With the 2016 TESOL International Association convention only 1 month away, this newsletter may find you in the throes of registration and travel arrangements, or even planning your itinerary in the fine city of Baltimore. Our team of event coordinators has been busy at the CALL-IS, too, and we’re ready to present sessions in the Technology Showcase and Electronic Village Fair that I hope you’ll take time to read about and fit into your schedule while at the convention.

For all 3 convention days, the Technology Showcase is packed with events, including five Hot Topics, the Mobile Apps for Education presentation, Developers’ Showcase, and an introduction to the TESOL CALL Community. Along with these mainstays, we’re also pleased to present:

  • CALL-IS Academic Session: Project-Based Learning: Pedagogical Possibilities for Online, Mobile, and Blended Learning
  • CALL-IS/MWIS InterSection: Creating, Adapting, and Using Content for Mobile Apps
  • ITA/MWIS/CALL-IS InterSection: Strategies for Developing and Delivering Training Materials for ITAs
  • ESPIS/VDMIS/CALL-IS InterSection:One Size Fits One: Incorporating Technology Into ESP Courses

Usually, the CALL-IS Open Meeting and Steering Committee Meeting would round out the scheduled activities, but not this year. The Technology Showcase features two special events this year. First, CALL-IS is celebrating TESOL’s 50th anniversary with a Leadership Panel, entitled “History of the EV Retrospective: Over Three Decades of Professional Development in CALL.” As well, in a format offered for the first time at TESOL, the CALL-IS is honored to partner with the SRIS and the Environmental Forum for a presentation entitled “Innovating Language Learning Through Technology for Environmental Responsibility.”

The Electronic Village also promises to be its usual bustling self. Don’t miss the action with Technology Fair sessions featuring mobile devices, self-access, and classroom tools. The EV Fair Classics highlights popular EV Fair presentations from previous years, and the Miniworkshops are not to be missed. And if you have questions, classroom technology strategies you’d like to discuss, or just want to visit the EV and talk with some experienced classroom technology practitioners, drop in and see us during an Ask Us session.

And if you can’t get to this year’s TESOL convention, you can take an active part in Technology Showcase events. This year, every session presented in the Technology Showcase will be available via webcast, along with selected sessions from the EV Fair Classics. Visit here to join the live sessions you’d like to hear. The portal will become available in mid-March, and you can bookmark it then.

Until the convention, I wish you all success, and look forward to seeing you in Baltimore!

Best regards,


Jack Watson is the e-learning coordinator at the University of New Brunswick English Language Programme in Fredericton, New Brunswick, 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.



I have thoroughly enjoyed this past year serving as your chair of the CALL-IS. Looking forward to Baltimore, we have several events planned during the TESOL convention. This year is particularly special as we celebrate TESOL’s 50th anniversary. Chair-Elect Jack Watson has been working hard to plan several InterSection panels and our academic session. You can read his letter in this issue of On CALL to learn more about these sessions.

In addition to the academic and InterSection panels, Past Chair Aaron Schwartz and our wonderful Electronic Village planning team have put together a great Electronic Village and Technology Showcase. We had more than 300 submissions to the Electronic Village this year and were able to accept more than 100 proposals. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store for you in Baltimore.

New this year to the Technology Showcase, the CALL-IS together with the Social Responsibility IS and the environmental forum brings a special InterSection panel titled “Innovating Language Learning Through Technology for Environmental Responsibility.” In addition to this special InterSection, the CALL-IS leadership team has put together a TESOL 50th anniversary special event leadership panel. The panel, “History of the EV: Over Three Decades of Professional Development in CALL,” brings together six past CALL-IS leaders to reflect on CALL and the CALL-IS within the context of TESOL’s golden anniversary.

If you can’t make it to Baltimore, we have you covered. Once again, our webcast team has been working hard to make sure those who cannot make it to Baltimore still have the chance to participate in some of our sessions. We will be webcasting more than 10 sessions from the Electronic Village and Technology Showcase, including our TESOL 50th anniversary special event leadership panel.

Before I close, I want to thank our wonderful volunteers. Thank you to all of you who read proposals for us in June when we were selecting presentations for this convention. Thank you to our outstanding Electronic Village Planning Team. Without you we would not be able to bring such wonderful events year after year to the TESOL convention. Thank you to Past Chair Aaron Schwartz and Chair-Elect Jack Watson for putting together wonderful panels for this year’s convention. A special thank you to Justin Shewell, who has worked tirelessly to not only manage our proposal system but put together our program book. Thank you all so much.

To learn more about the events we have going on at the TESOL convention this year, check out our webpage. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @TESOLCALLIS or #EVillage2016.


Stephanie Korslund is director of the Language Studies Resource Center in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University. She can proudly say that she finished her PhD in instructional technology with a focus on CALL from Ohio University in December 2015.


Dear CALL-IS colleagues,

In this newsletter, you'll find links related to the Electronic Village schedule, for those of you who are attending TESOL 2016. Justin Shewell has created a searchable document and a way to save sessions of interest to your calendars. And even if you're not going to the conference, I hope you can still find some things to amuse you. While on our homepage, please take a few minutes to take our poll. In addition, in this edition, there are too many articles to mention here that explore pedagogy and teaching using CALL in new and interesting ways.

I would like to thank the newsletter editing team and especially Justin Nicholes, a PhD student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Grazzia Maria Mendoza, MEd Zamorano University, Honduras; and Carolina Rodriguez-Buitrago, lecturer at Universidad de La Sabana, Bogotá, Colombia. I wouldn’t have been able to put this newsletter out this year without their help. Also, a big thanks to all the contributors in this issue.

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.

Below is some information from Emily Herrick at University of Nebraska at Lincoln about a new TESOL publication in the New Ways series, entitled New Ways in Teaching With Music. She would like your contributions and suggestions by 30 June 2016.


Seeking contributors with classroom ideas specifically for how to use music in the ESL/EFL classroom.

Deadline: 30 June 2016
If you would like your contribution to be considered for inclusion, please follow the guidelines below and make your timely submission to coeditors Jean Arnold and Emily Herrick here.

Scope and Purpose

New Ways in Teaching With Music (NWTM) will be a collection of activities and exercises contributed by teachers who have used them in their teaching in ESL and EFL higher-ed or IEP classrooms around the world. Music is a new focal area for the popular New Ways series and we are seeking to publish successful, fresh and innovative methods of using music to enhance English language learning in the following areas:

a. Listening
b. Speaking
c. Reading
d. Vocabulary
e. Writing
f. Grammar
g. Cultural Exploration

Contributors may explore options for teaching ESL or EFL to adult or young adult students with music in an academic setting.

This series offers at-a-glance, simple lesson plans. All contributions should follow as closely as possible to the format below:

400–800 words

Section parts

  1. Title
  2. Contributor name
  3. Levels (beginning, high beginning, intermediate, advanced, etc.) for which the lesson is most appropriate
  4. Aims of lesson (e.g., focusing on improving note-taking skills or teaching about the country’s culture)
  5. Class time
  6. Preparation time
  7. Resources needed
  8. Procedure
  9. Rationale (e.g., concepts / theories / pedagogical principles / research findings which support this teaching activity)
  10. Caveats and Options (e.g., suggestions on how the activity may be altered, shortened or expanded to meet different contexts)
  11. References, Further Reading, or Resources
  12. Appendix (e.g., sample handout for the lesson)

(Please indicate which of the eight areas your contribution best fits, e.g., listening, speaking, reading, etc.).

Acceptance Process

Contributions should follow the format of the series as closely as possible and use APA formatting and referencing guidelines. See “Sample contribution” below.

Submissions should be meticulously reviewed for clarity and accuracy by the contributor before submitting.

All contributions will be vetted by the editors and given a final review by the TESOL Book Publications Committee; there will be no automatic acceptance.


TESOL asks all contributors to assign their copyright to the association. The author(s) will be asked to sign a contract during the production cycle for the volume. Please do not submit work that has been previously published, is currently under consideration elsewhere, or already under contract, and do not submit work for which you wish to retain copyright. All contributors will be given a TESOL Press permissions form to use and are responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use previously published material.

Sample Contribution

Title: The Back Story

Contributor Name: Emily Herrick

Levels: Intermediate to advanced

Aims of lesson: Develop narrative writing and critical thinking skills; help students develop an understanding of the concept of "contextualizing" a piece of writing

Class Time: Approximately one hour

Preparation Time: 15-30 minutes

Resources needed: Audio recording of any song; optionally an example of a back story you wrote about the song, and a transcript of the lyrics. Nearly any popular song can serve as a writing prompt for students to create a narrative "back story."


  1. Select an audio recording of a popular song and write a short "back story" about the song that you can share with the class.

  2. Play the song in class and discuss the meaning of the lyrics. You may want to give students a copy of the lyrics or display them for the class.

  3. Provide students with an example of a short "back story" using the story you created. Explain that the back story could be something about the life of the songwriter, or it could be a story about the people mentioned in the song. For example, if you played Meghan Trainor's 2015 hit, "All About That Bass," students could write a story about the songwriter's experience with weight, about why the mama in the song advises her daughter, or even research issues of obesity and self image.

  4. Give students 15-20 minutes to write their own back story.

  5. Students can share their stories in small groups or with the class. 

Rationale: All writing grows out of a context or a background that helps form the interpretation of the text. By using clues in the lyrics of a song as a starting point, students can make imaginative inferences about the background of the song as they write a short creative narrative which provides a context.

Caveats and Options: Variations on this activity are nearly limitless as the text they create can be used as a draft for further writing practice. Instead of an example written by the teacher, a class discussion can serve as an effective method of introducing the concept of a back story. If you would like to incorporate more speaking and listening practice, or help students develop collaborative writing skills, students could write their back stories in pairs or groups. Finally, if available, you could provide students with the "real" back story, an explanation from the songwriter about the origins of the song.


Originally from Cincinnati, Larry was a Peace Corps volunteer in Rich, Morocco from 1986–88 and then graduated with an MA 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.



The purpose of this paper is to (1) introduce ESL instructors to two valuable corpus resources: The Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Papers (MICUSP) and StringNet, and (2) share some corpus activities using these two resources. The activities were developed in an upper-level reading and composition class in a theme-based intensive language center for teaching ESL at a U.S. university. The majority of the students in this class intended to pursue graduate studies. The main writing assignments included writing an argumentative essay on a controversial topic. Students were asked to develop their arguments using logical evidence through synthesizing information from credible sources. They also needed to analyze and refute relevant counterarguments. Another writing assignment was summarizing and critiquing peer-reviewed articles. Students were to evaluate elements such as the author’s support and logic, credentials, consulted sources, bias, and the appropriateness of the vocabulary.

Because such writing assignments demand knowledge of specific language patterns, students were coached to use MICUSP and StringNet directly and independently to (1) explore the language of argumentative essays and critiques, (2) enrich their lexico-grammatical competence, (3) notice language patterns and draw conclusions about their usages, and (4) learn how to use such resources to edit their writing for grammar and syntax. In the following subsections, an overview of MICUSP and StringNet is provided followed by examples of corpus tasks utilizing these two resources.


MICUSP contains a collection of A-graded academic papers written by senior undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines. It has a user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to navigate. It can be accessed directly without signing up for an account here.

A student can search for recurrent usages of a word or phrase by simply typing it in the search box. Its frequency of occurrence is provided along with statistical visualizations of its distribution across disciplines and paper types (Figure 1).

Figure 1. An example of a search word display.

Possibly has occurred 180 times in 127 papers. The pie chart shows that possibly is most frequent in Reports (45%) followed by argumentative essay (24%). Content can be restricted to student level, nativeness (native- vs nonnative-English speakers), textual features, paper type, and discipline.

Excerpts with the search word highlighted in yellow appear as a list (Figure 2). Clicking the Paper ID provides access to the complete text, which can be saved as a PDF file (Figure 3).

Figure 2. An example of an excerpt with the search word.

Figure 3. An example of the complete text and related information.


StringNet is a searchable database of 2.2 billion lexico-grammatical patterns extracted from the British National Corpus (BNC). Students can simply enter a word(s) in the search box. They may click on “Search options” to specify the chunk length and frequency. For example, after entering a word likecontrary (Figure 4), click “Find patterns.” A page with a list of patterns in which the query word is commonly used is displayed (Figure 5). Two clickable part-of-speech options of contrary appear (Figures 5 and 6).

Figure 4. Main page of StringNet.

Figure 5. Patterns containing contrary as an adjective.

Figure 6. Patterns containing contrary as a noun.

By clicking on any word in the chunk, a small box pops up with suggested words that can replace the examined word (Figure 7). Additionally, clicking the magnifier icon under “Examples” leads to a page with a list of sentences from BNC containing the pattern (Figure 8).

Figure 7. Suggested words to replace a word in a chunk.

Figure 8. Examples of sentences from BNC with pattern in blue.

Another interesting option is “Find similar words” (Figure 9). It provides synonyms of the search word (Figure 9). Clicking on the frequency number in the “shared patterns” column displays examples of the synonym in the slot that it occupies in the chunk (e.g., reason in Figure 10).

Figure 9. Results for argument in the “Find similar words” option.

Figure 10. Examples of reason and argument displayed in chunks.

Tasks Based on MICUSP and StringNet

The following tasks were carried out online using Facebook. A closed Facebook group for the class was created. During the first week of class, the teacher introduced MICUSP and StringNet, demonstrated how they can be used, and explained the benefits of using them. A weekly corpus task was posted throughout the session in which students were asked to explore a certain construction and then respond to related questions intended to provoke critical thinking and inductive reasoning. Students had to comment on at least one of their colleagues’ findings. The tasks were graded on completeness and meeting the deadline. Examples of the tasks are shared below.

Task 1: Author

In this class, you will be using the word “author(s)” OR the last name of the author(s) “e.g., Jones (2010)” regularly when you write summaries, critiques, and argumentative essays. Your task is to investigate the frequent chunks that contain the word “author” and the words that occur with it.

  1. Go to StringNet
  2. Type: author
  3. Hit “Find patterns”
  4. Answer the following:
      1. How frequently does the word “author” appear in this corpus of academic writing?
      2. Find three chunks that contain “author + verb” and discuss the following:
          1. In which part of the essay would you likely use each chunk (e.g. conclusion, support, examples, argument…)? Why?
          2. What word(s) often follow the verb in your chosen chunks?
          3. What have you noticed about the grammar of these chunks?

Task 2: Effect vs. Affect

Based on the writings that we have done so far, I noticed that some students confuse the use of “effect” and “affect.” Your task is to investigate how these two words are used in academic writing using MICUSP.

  1. Go to MICUSP
  2. First type “effect” and hit SEARCH
  3. What part of speech often precedes and follows “effect”? Give examples from the corpus.
  4. Then type “affect” and hit SEARCH
  5. What part of speech often precedes and follows “affect”? Give examples from the corpus.
  6. What is the difference between “effect” and “affect”? Use each one in a sentence.

Task 3: Exploring Argumentative Essays

Using MICUSP, check “Argumentative Essay” only and select an argumentative essay from any discipline. Explore the essay in terms of the following:

  1. Thesis statement
      1. What is the topic?
      2. Is it a pro or con argument?
      3. How is the thesis statement structured?
      4. Is there a modal verb used in the thesis?
  2. Argument
      1. How does the author support the argument?
      2. Can you identify any counterarguments and refutations? How were you able to notice them?

Task 4: Argumentative Essay Language

Study the underlined constructions from StringNet. Write where you might use these constructions in your argumentative essay. What do you notice about the structure of the sentence?

  1. While it is true that village women in India have little power or status in society as a whole, Janet misunderstands what lies behind the caring and “fussing.”
  2. Some opponents said later that since none of the houses managed a two-thirds majority, prospects for success in 1991 were thin.
  3. It could be argued that the surgeon could face both criminal and civil liability.

Task 5: Similar Pairs

Using MICUSP, explore each pair in terms of usages, location in the sentence, punctuation, and the context around it. Share your findings and examples from the corpus.

  • although and despite
  • on the one hand and on the other hand
  • such as and for example
  • because and because of

Task 6: Exploring Critiques

Go to MICUSP, check [✔] “Critique/Evaluation” only and select a paper from any discipline.Identify some aspects that the writer has critiqued. This task will be discussed further in class. Please bring your chosen paper and your notes to class.

Task 7: Recurrent Errors

This assignment is based on frequent errors in your papers. Each student is assigned a particular word/phrase highlighted in the sentence to examine using MICUSP and then answer a related question. Write what you notice in a comment and provide examples from the corpus. An example:

Type “whether”: Do all sentences that have “whether” always include “or not”? Explain.

Other Tasks: Self-Editing

Some tasks were tailored according to the individual needs of each student. When giving feedback on the first draft, a teacher can highlight recurrent errors, jot down some questions that scaffold the student to notice and think about his or her errors, and direct them to StringNet to explore correct usages.

Ultimately, such resources are valuable for supporting ESL learners in noticing and discovering language use and promoting learner autonomy.


O'Donnell, Matthew B. & Römer, Ute. 2012. From student hard drive to web corpus (part 2): The annotation and online distribution of the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP). Corpora 7(1): 1-18. pdf version

Römer, Ute & Matthew B. O'Donnell. 2011. From student hard drive to web corpus (part 1): The design, compilation and genre classification of the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP). Corpora. 6(2): 159-177. pdf version

Eman Elturki has recently earned a PhD in language, literacy and technology from Washington State University. She teaches ESL at the Intensive American Language Center of Washington State University.


Imagine the following scenario: You find yourself in a room with only one exit, an elevator door in the middle of the room. You soon discover that you need a key to open it. Looking around, you see an old painting, a sofa, a small table with a drawer, a large chest, a bookcase, and what appears to be a ventilation outlet with a grey box behind it. Where will you look first?

This is the scenario you find yourself in when playing the popular game app Can You Escape? Each level presents a different room, and you must interact with the objects around the room, find useful and hidden items, solve puzzles, and eventually discover a key, card, or code to open the door and escape. And then it starts all over again in a new room!

The game is simple yet addictive with challenging but short puzzles. It has spawned several sequels and many imitators. It has also become a regular feature in my ESL classroom. At first glance, it seems strange that such a game is used in the language classroom. It features very few words and, as an app, it is geared toward single-player use with no real need for interaction.

However, it is the apparent lack of language that makes it suitable for in-classroom use. Language in a game can actually be restrictive for ESL students, as they need to focus on comprehension of specific preprogrammed terms, which may be above their level. With few or no words, there is more space for language production and more flexibility to appeal to different learner levels. Interaction can also be encouraged with well-designed collaborative activities. The game merely offers a starting point to build a series of activities around.

Indeed, “Can You Escape?” is suitable for classroom use in many ways: It is a cross-platform app so it does not matter if your school has iPads, Androids, or a BYOD set-up; it is free to download; it is easy to get to grips with; and it has no content that may be considered inappropriate for use by children. Personally, I have used this app with ESL students aged 12–14, but the game is by no means restricted to young learners—it is challenging enough to engage teenagers, university students, and adult learners as well.

So, how can we use this game in an ESL setting? I will now share a few ideas I have used to get my students engaging with and producing English as they play. I will also highlight how the order of the activities helps the learners develop their thinking skills in line with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy ("Revised Bloom's Taxonomy", n.d.).

Give Me a Hand

Idea: Attract the students’ interest by asking them to help you as you play through Level 1
Great for:
practicing language for giving advice, making suggestions, or, at a simpler level, giving instructions
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy:
Remembering (recognizing) and Understanding (explaining, interpreting)

Young students often assume that their teachers are not up to speed when it comes to technology. I play to this a little when I first introduce the app in class by showing the game to them on my device and saying that I do not know how to compete the first level. I then invite advice and suggestions from them in order to complete the level. It is important not to let them take over the device so that the language keeps coming. After this, you should allow time for the students to play through the same level on their own devices. This is best done in pairs to encourage interaction.

Live Listening

Idea: Engage students in an intensive listening activity by talking them through a level
Great for: real-time listening for detail
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: Understanding (interpreting, exemplifying) and Applying (executing)

Before this activity, you will need to make a list of instructions for completing the next stage, adjusting the language according to the level and age of your class. Read out the instructions one at a time, making it clear that they must be followed exactly with no jumping ahead. Pause between each instruction to allow the learners to perform the actions on screen or ask clarification questions if necessary. This works very well as a live listening activity. The students must listen and respond to the instructions in real time, creating an intensive listening experience without them ever realizing it. After the level is completed, get the class to tell each instruction back to you as a way to focus on the language more actively.

Walking Through the Jumble

Idea: Give the students the solution but make them work to understand it
Great for: Reading comprehension and negotiation of meaning
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: Understanding (interpreting, exemplifying), Applying (executing), and Analyzing (organizing, attributing)

Again, you will need to prepare a list of instructions for your students before they attempt the relevant level. However, instead of giving the instructions to the students directly, give them out of sequence. The students must then play through the level and decide what order the instructions should be placed in. Of course, there may be more than one correct order, so it is a good idea to get different pairs to compare their answers after playing. This activity encourages the learners to analyze the actions they have taken in the game and compare them to the written instructions on the handout, again offering intensive receptive skills practice without them ever realizing it. Alternatively, the walkthrough guide could be incomplete or contain deliberate errors, encouraging the students to play through the level and complete the guide with the correct information.

Active Walkthroughs

Idea: Get students producing language to guide each other through a level
Great for: Processing and retelling visual information
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: Understanding (summarizing) and Evaluating (checking)

Having listened to and read through walkthrough guides, it is now time for your learners to be more active in their production of language. In the game or on YouTube, you will find video guides to each level. Like the game itself, these clips contain no language. They simply show the solutions to the puzzles in the level. Again, the learners work in pairs but they each have their own device. One watches the video and explains what to do while the other listens and follows the instructions. For the next level, they swap roles. After each level, ask the class to come up with an agreed set of instructions on the board, allowing for language analysis and error correction.

Learner Walkthroughs

Idea: Students produce their own guide to a level
Great for: Writing instructions and explanations
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: Creating (planning, producing) and Evaluating (checking, critiquing)

The final stage is for the learners to produce their own guides. Let them play through a level, noting down the steps they take as they do so. After they have finished playing, they then write out their own walkthrough guide. This can be adapted to different levels easily with lower levels writing a simple list of commands but higher levels being encouraged to be more descriptive by writing paragraphs. The guides can then be exchanged between groups and peer edited before producing a definitive class version. This could even be extended to the entire game (or one of the sequels) by asking different groups to produce guides for different levels, ultimately creating a guide to the entire game.

As stated at the beginning of this article, the lack of content language in a game like “Can You Escape?” allows for a great deal of language generation on the part of the learners. Through the activities outlined above, they are encouraged to focus on language and practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking as they play the game. The game itself offers a rich context to drive their comprehension and production of language forward. By trying to escape the room, we can raise the level of learning that takes place in it.


"Revised Bloom's Taxonomy" (n.d.) Retrieved from

David Dodgson has spent the last 16 years working in ESL classrooms in Europe and Africa. He believes personalizing the learning process is the key to success in the language classroom and has a strong interest in using and adapting authentic input for learners of all levels. You can learn more about his work at, a site dedicated to game-based learning.


Does technology just make teachers look good or does it really make teachers teach better? We are now part of a world where presidential campaigns, revolutions, and restructuring of regimes happen virtually. Teaching in traditional ways may keep students from digital literacy skills needed to navigate and survive in this kind of world. This article attempts to shed light on some ethical and educational considerations that are emerging with the rise of social media in academia and which may discourage some teachers from “jumping on the bandwagon.” The article also suggests some ways that could facilitate the process of change and transformation in education by defining the change and the new teachers’ roles and skills.

New Ethical Issues and Suggestions

According to Thornburg (2002), “It is no wonder that those who are uncomfortable with ambiguity tend to be highly stressed” (p. 37). The rapid change of the nature of work contracts and job skills because of technology is creating an ambiguous world that is stressing people of all professions. In education, teachers find themselves in a position where they are expected to help students acquire survival skills and use social media in order to accept change with comfort when they can hardly deal with change themselves.

One of several forms of change that many teachers find discomforting when using online social media as a teaching tool is that it would require some level of self-disclosure. The level of appropriateness of self-disclosure in online social networking is not clearly defined; therefore, academics use social media with great caution and reservation (Kaufmann & Lane 2014). No matter how challenging this process is, McBride and Wahl (2005) stress that teachers need to be selective and prudent about self-disclosure because such academic online interaction is inevitable.

Another aspect of change could be seen in teacher/student virtual relationship guidelines, which also are not clearly defined. Some of the teachers’ resistance stems from the either imposed tacit unpublished guidelines or the complete ban on teacher-student interaction on e-platforms, as indicated in an article in The New York Times titled “Rules to Stop Pupil and Teacher From Getting Too Social Online” (Preston, 2011). Some teachers and students may argue that such bans are unconstitutional; however, some schools may have resolved to these extreme measures to avoid complaints and scandals that have occurred due to intentional and unintentional lack of discretion committed by teachers or students (Preston, 2011).

Naturally, teachers may be less than enchanted by online social networking, knowing that they could be risking their reputation, career, privacy, and welfare, but students may require more integration of online social networking in their learning process. This could definitely widen the gap between the cautious and reluctant participants on one hand and the more zealous experimenters on the other. Both parties’ reasoning is justified, but obviously some students may be missing out on sufficient opportunities to practice and integrate social media and acquire new networking skills useful for their academic advancement.

Banning teacher-student virtual interaction can keep education suspended in a time capsule dating to the past century. Therefore, it is essential and critical to integrate monitoring systems that can police and protect students from bullying, slander, and pedophiles and still allow teachers to use the online tools safely and appropriately to foster student learning. Teachers also need a system that prepares and supports them to accept the reality that their online social space will be invaded by the students, and that part of their privacy is going to be lost because we live in a pervasive searchable data-verse.

One example of teachers’ society attempting to regulate the pervasive aspect of social media is the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (2015). The society came up with some policies and procedures that can help teachers create a safe and an ethical online learning environment. Some of the advice encourages teachers to:

  1. Maintain an instructor presence and set appropriate boundaries
  2. Refrain from venting on social media
  3. Contribute to online discussions with thoughtful posts
  4. Use social media with students during work time for work purposes
  5. Establish a reasonable schedule for online activities
  6. Communicate expectations and assignments clearly and consistently
  7. Consider student right to privacy when designing and implementing activities
  8. Value and embrace diversit
  9. Keep students safe and deal with issues of inappropriate conduct carefully
  10. Follow applicable copyright laws and give attribution to the work of others

New Teacher and Student Roles Defined

On Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., the teacher still plays the role of the knowledge provider, but practicing this role virtually can be different from practicing it in a regular classroom environment. This is because new technologies require new identities and new roles.

According to Thornburg (2002), working in the Telematic Age, professionals won't be limiting their services to one client, organization, or country; the knowledge-value worker is described as (p. 34):

  1. A contractor, not a long-term employee
  2. Comfortable with ambiguity
  3. A lifelong learner
  4. Highly mobile
  5. Highly entrepreneurial

Thornburg (2002) suggests that there is a need for opennessto serendipity, which many teachers find discomforting and overwhelming. Because many teachers enjoy the stable, risk-free, long-term employment nature of their conventional teaching role, they worry that they may have to give up those aspects in the Telematic Age if they would be seen as knowledge-value workers or academic consultants.

Furthermore, boundaries of time, space, and matter become very blurred in the cyber world. This allows students to indulge in an educational continuum, which is liberating when they use multiple sources of knowledge mostly available in electronic forms. This approach suggests that learners are becoming more independent and are seeking more forms of individual learning experience. Learners also appreciate the easy electronic accessibility of teachers and data, the speed of delivery of data online, and the ownership of their learning process. On the other hand, this is a scary notion for some teachers who might be wary of the unintended consequences if administrators read their posts, or would refrain from sharing their virtual space with students because they are unable or unwilling to monitor this space after school hours. Hence, there needs to be new roles and new rules of educational management to regulate means, manners, and modes of learning in the realm of social networking sites.

Like teachers, students are required to assume certain roles to regulate the learning process that takes place online. Thornburg (2002) suggests a new set of student skills in this new school, which includes:

  1. Being comfortable with ambiguity
  2. Accepting the concept of lifelong learning
  3. Focusing on the big picture rather than isolated facts
  4. Mastering the discipline of improvisational skills
  5. Accepting the fact that information has a short shelf life
  6. Technological fluency is critical
  7. Developing self-directed learning awareness
  8. Learning and using the skill of collaboration and teamwork (p. 36-42)

There is a need to allow not only a top-down but also a bottom-up kind of interaction in the learning process. The definition of the word “instruction” has become debatable because it indicates that the knowledge is usually imparted from the instructor (the giver) to the receptor (the student), which is no longer always the case. There is a tendency to understand the learning process as an activity of negotiating and allocating knowledge shared by both teachers and students who currently coexist in a hierarchy-less context. In other words, new technologies have transformed the politics of learning. As a result, social media has given students an opportunity to be closer to the source of knowledge and have the ability to receive the knowledge in multiple forms. But, in return, students are required to develop more complex critical thinking skills to assess resources and to judge authenticity and suitability of data. Consequently, both the teachers and the students need to be flexible to adapt, transform, and manage the learning process, which is an extremely unpredictable process. Hence, surprises and changeable learning objectives may become the norm, while consistency and predictability may become old fashioned. Such a process requires both brave teachers and students.


Accepting technologies needs courage, but courage needs acceptance. Nevertheless, it may be difficult and risky to accept an environment that is currently not fully defined and is still changing.

This article has attempted to summarize the concerns and issues that govern and control teacher-student interaction in the virtual world and the new forms of teacher-student collaboration. The metamorphosis of education is inevitable. It started with the evolving of the Brave New Students who will continue to acknowledge the importance of technology and social networking. With time, better policies, and more teacher training, more Brave New Teachers will embrace the movement and lead research that can help define these new pedagogical communication channels. This change and courage are two sides of the same coin, but it needs a brave hand to flip the coin.


Kaufmann, R., & Lane, D. (2014). Examining communication privacy management in the middle school classroom: Perceived gains and consequences. Educational Research, 56(1), 13–27.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (n.d.). Smartphones, tablets and other devices in the classroom. Retrieved from

McBride, M. C., & Wahl, S. T. (2005). “To say or not to say?” Teachers’ management of privacy boundaries in the classroom. Texas Speech Communication Journal, 30, 8–22.

Preston, J. (2011, December 17). Rules to stop pupil and teacher from getting too social online. New York Times. Retrieved from

Thornburg, D. (2002). The new basics: Education and the future of work in the Telematic Age. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Kareen Sharawy has an MA in teaching English as a foreign language from London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Currently an instructor and a coordinator at York University English Language Institute-Canada, Ms. Sharawy has also worked as a trainer and a teacher coordinator with AMIDEAST and other organizations in many USAID-funded programs and delivered training in a variety of test-preparation courses for the past 10 years. Her research interests include innovation in classroom teaching, test-preparation courses, and using technology.


When and where did the conference take place?

The 2015 AsiaCALL annual conference took place 27–30 November 2015 at Xi’an Aeronautical University in Xi’an, China. The conference was attended by CALL aficionados from throughout Asia and around the world. Xi’an, as the beginning of the Silk Road and the former capitol of the Middle Kingdom, offered experiences rich in Chinese history amid the modern urban life of a global city. Naturally, no trip to Xi’an would be complete without visits to the Qin dynasty’s Terra Cotta Warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Attendees at Xi’an’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda during the sightseeing excursion.

Who/what organizations/people were involved?

More than 50 presentations and workshops were offered by an international array of language teaching professionals. The sessions available to the more than 80 attendees were mostly research paper presentations and research-related workshops. The conference offered three keynote addresses from around the world. The first was by Dr. Jozef Colpaert of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Dr. Colpaert spoke on the topic of educational engineering as new research method, and its implications for language learning and teaching. The second keynote address was given by Dr. Philippe Martin of the University of Paris-Diderot, France. His address was titled, “Sentence Intonation in Second/Foreign Language Learning and Teaching: Why It Is Important and How It Can Be Acquired,” and was about using technology to help learners improve their intonation. The final keynote address was delivered by Dr. Zeng Yongqiang, the president of the Guangdong Teachers’ College of Foreign Languages and Arts, China. He spoke about what technology can do to lead education forward. Details about the keynote addresses are available on the conference website.

What were the highlights of the conference?

The conference weekend opened on Friday with workshop discussions exploring what it means to use CALL to engage language learners. The conversations were exciting and full of the debates we all should be having about what CALL enables teachers to truly do. Other conference sessions included presentations about current research efforts in various Asian countries. Some of the sessions over Saturday and Sunday included

  • “The Development and the Effects of ICT in the Learning Process as Well as Students’ Perceptions and Expectations on the Use of ICT in Classrooms,” by Marleiny Radjuni;
  • “Intercultural Communication Competence of Chinese College Students in English E-Learning,” by Deng Dongyuan;
  • “Incorporating Social Networking Sites Into the Language Classroom,” by Dian Toar Y. G. Sumakul;
  • “A Study of Blog-Based Foreign Language Teachers’ Reflective Practice,” by Wang Qi;
  • “Promises and Pitfalls of CALL and MALL Technologies in the EFL Classroom,” by Stephen Lambacher; and many others.

The AsiaCALL 2015 Conference Program is available on the web here.

One of the biggest events of the conference was the closing dinner, hosted at a 5-star hotel in downtown Xi’an. A wide variety of international foods sated our appetites after a weekend full of discussions, debates, and learning. Students of the Xi’an Aeronautical University entertained the crowd with dance and musical performances, which were then joined by some of the attendees (including yours truly joining in to sing Auld Lang Syne!). The conference wrapped up on Monday with tours of the world-famous Terra Cotta Warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Daci’en Temple. These sites were too amazing to be adequately explained in this article, but no visit to China should miss these unbelievable treasures.

I would be remiss if I failed to commend the AsiaCALL Conference organizers, Kalyan Chattopadhyay and Andrew Lian, as well as the conference president, Zhang Huali, and the rest of the staff, faculty, and students of Xi’an Aeronautical University. In spite of many challenges, they provided a memorable experience for all of the attendees. Each foreign guest had a student volunteer personally assigned to help us explore and enjoy Xi’an and the conference—that was unbelievably helpful. I am sure that I speak for all of the attendees when I say that we are very grateful for all of your hard work and dedication to make AsiaCALL 2015 a success!

Banner for AsiaCALL 2015 at Xi’an Aeronautical University (in background), Xi’an, China

What about future AsiaCALL Conferences?

The location of AsiaCALL 2016 is still being decided, but this annual conference is normally held in November. Details will be posted on the conference website. This was my first time attending an AsiaCALL conference, but it will not be my last. I hope to see more TESOL and CALL-IS members at an AsiaCALL conference in the future.

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.


In 1998, some CALL-IS members had a fantastic idea. Why not take advantage of the existence of free online platforms to extend TESOL’s Electronic Village (EV) beyond the confines of the TESOL convention? Thus was born the Electronic Village Online(EVO), founded by CALL-IS members Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Susan Gaer, and Tom Robb, initially as a way to discuss issues prior to the convention and continue the discussion on these issues after the convention. The first iterations used Blackboard, but in 2002 the switch to Yahoo Groups increased accessibility and functionality (Hanson-Smith & Bauer-Ramazani, 2004). Since its inception, EVO has been open to TESOL and non-TESOL members worldwide.

In the years following, EVO sessions became stand-alone sessions, rather than being tied to topics of the TESOL convention. Much has been gained as EVO sessions have become a popular way for TESOL members, IATEFL members, and ESL/EFL educators around the world to engage in free professional development about a wide range of topics, including teaching with technology (from blogs and Moodle to Second Life and e-textbooks, and many more); using drama or music to teach English; teaching oral communication skills, business English, pronunciation, and vocabulary; NNEST, ITA, and DREAMer issues; just-in-time teaching and the flipped learning approach; mentoring and lesson-planning; games and gamification; conflict resolution and peacebuilding for ELLs; multiliteracies; and content and language integrated learning (CLIL).

Every year, teams of moderators submit their proposals to a group of volunteer coordinators who read and discuss the proposals. Promising proposals are provisionally accepted, and the moderators, themselves also all volunteers, participate in a 4-week training session in the fall, during which they learn about the EVO’s unique all-volunteer, all-carrots-no-sticks culture while developing their session syllabus and materials and building and practicing with the platforms they will use to deliver the mostly-asynchronous sessions. Those teams whose proposals meet the requirements for readiness by December receive the go-ahead to offer their session for 5 weeks in January and February.

Now in its 16th iteration, EVO2016 ran between 10 January and 14 February 2016. This year, 14 sessions were offered:

  • Classroom-Based Research for Professional Development: Participants learn about different stages and forms of teacher research for teacher development in order to improve their efficacy and motivation.
  • DREAM Act: What Teachers Can Do: For U.S.-based educators, this session aims to help teachers find ways to support the undocumented students known as DREAMers.
  • Educators and Copyright: Do the Right Thing: Participants learn about principles of copyright and fair use and are introduced to Framework Analysis and public domain/Creative Commons.
  • EVO Minecraft MOOC: Participants learn about gamification of learning through constructive play with this popular game.
  • EVO VILLAGE 2016: In another gamification session, participants learn about creating and using games in virtual worlds such as Second Life.
  • Flipped Learning: Participants in this session look at how the flipped learning approach can motivate students to develop 21st-century skills.
  • ICT4ELT: This session supports teachers who would like to incorporate technology into their classes but do not know where to begin.
  • Media Resources and Emotions in Teaching and Learning: This 5-week session involves participants looking at and understanding emotion with regard to teaching and learning.
  • Moodle for Teachers: Participants access resources, activities, and blocks in Moodle from a student perspective and then practice using the same features in practice areas as teachers and managers of a course.
  • Teachers as Designers: A hands-on and project-based session during which participants develop an ICT-based activity that follows the Learning Design cycle and meets the particular needs of their contexts and learners.
  • Teachers Creating Digital Textbooks: Participants create the first chapter of a textbook for their own students in the third iteration of this popular session.
  • Teaching EFL to Young Learners: This session focuses on the use of storytelling, drama, games, and action songs with young learners.
  • Teaching Pronunciation Differently: Participants learn to use the articulatory approach to teaching pronunciation.
  • Techno-CLIL for EVO 2016: Participants learn why and how to implement the CLIL approach that is mandated in many European educational systems, focusing on how to incorporate technology into a CLIL course.

There were more than 8,500 participants enrolled in these 14 sessions, or an average of more than 600 participants per session. In reality, enrollment ranged from fewer than 20 in the smallest to almost 5,000 in the largest session.

Although the 2016 sessions have concluded, why not consider proposing or participating in EVO2017? Our Call for Proposals comes out in June, and the Call for Participation in December, here. See you next year!

Notes From the Field

Some of our moderators report what’s going on in selected sessions.

Classroom-Based Research for Professional Development

Run for the first time in EVO sessions, “Classroom-Based Research for Professional Development” aimed at providing its geographically dispersed participants with chances of collaborative learning, discussing practice, reflecting upon issues that create puzzles, seeking support from each other, and assistance for professional growth. There were 229 international teachers participating. The majority of the 92 participants who responded to a survey conducted at the onset of the session concurred that they were not very experienced in class-based research. Recognizing this constraint, the moderators directed the participants toward online participatory practice in research through asynchronous (wiki, emails, social media tools, Google Plus) and synchronous (Google Hangout on Air) technologies. Thanks to this truly great online learning experience, we were able to open the doors of our classrooms to other colleagues and tackle the daily challenges of teaching more effectively through sharing expertise, socializing, and collegial connection. (Asli Lidice Gokturk Saglam)


EVO ViLLAGE (Virtual Language Learning And Gaming Environment) focused on creating and applying games in virtual worlds such as Second Life, OpenSim, and Minecraft by using ideas from f2f (face-to-face) communication and transferring them to virtual language learning. Participants learned to build; add sound, texture, and script; import mesh interactive objects; and design role-plays, simulations, and scenarios.

With the support from 15 experienced moderators, some 100 participants from around the world immersed in the processes of creating simulating scenarios to generate language activity in their classes by inspiring creativity and combining linguistic and technological development for learners. (Helena Galani)


TECHNO-CLIL for EVO2016 aimed at spreading the link between CLIL and CALL, through synchronous and asynchronous activities on Moodle, Wiki and WizIQ. A lot of hints and suggestions were offered on how to plan and implement CLIL lessons through the use of web tools and ICT in general. Daily online synchronous meetings with international experts on CLIL and ICT were the highlight for this session's more than 5,000 participants. (Letizia Cinganotto and Daniela Cuccurullo)

EVO Minecraft MOOC

EVO Minecraft MOOC, #evomc16, has 185 members based here. We have a syllabus which points to a set of missions here. Participants were able to find the missions and complete them without having to ask too many questions.

Figuring all this out is how you play the “Big G” Game of EVO Minecraft MOOC (Gee, 2008). Completing the missions led to the awarding of an #EVOMC16 survivors' badge. Evidence of completion of the required missions was recorded in a spreadsheet, which was in turn linked from the badge. A link from the awarded badge directs anyone who clicks on your award to an open document displaying verifiable evidence of what was accomplished.

Participants were all learning about gamification here; it wasn’t so much about Minecraft specifically. Minecraft is the “little g” game, the enabler of their emerging knowledge of gamification. When players entered survival mode, they found that they were assisted by others in world. With their help, players stayed alive and learned. So, gamification turned out to be learning through teamwork and mutual support, and meeting challenges and achieving their goal, whatever it was. In this game, players set their own goals. By achieving their goals in the game, light bulbs went off in their heads and lit their way to some realization of how what they were learning in EVOMC16 might work to meet their real world challenges. (Vance Stevens)

Teachers as Designers EVO

Out of more than 200 enrolled participants from around the world, only a handful were really active in the forums, but the quality of their contributions was high. They work in diverse contexts, and it’s super interesting to be able to peek into their classrooms and see what change they want to bring about. They not only completed the weekly tasks, but also gave constructive feedback to each other, which is part of the session design and part of what makes it so special. It was reassuring to see the participants experiment with technologies—for example, quite a few of them took up a challenge to create their learner’s persona using infographic software. The weekly synchronous convergence sessions also added a more personal touch to the session, as did gaining more insight into Learning Design through our guest speakers. Overall, even though it was our first time moderating an EVO session, it was certainly an inspiring experience. (Emma Cresswell and Ania Rolinska)


Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. In K. Salen (Ed.), The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 21–40). The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from

Hanson-Smith, E., & Bauer-Ramazani, C. (2004). Professional development: The Electronic Village Online of the TESOL CALL Interest Section. TESL-EJ, 8(2). Retrieved from


Nina T. Liakos, retired; EVO coordinator since 2012. Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Asli Lidice Gokturk Saglam, EFL teacher and moderator of Class Research EVO 2016. Istanbul, Turkey.

Helena Galani, moderator of EVO Virtual Language Learning And Gaming Environment 2016, EFL/EAP tutor, adult educator, FL school teacher, assessor. Lamia, Greece.

Letizia Cinganotto, PhD, moderator of Techno-CLIL for EVO 2016, researcher at the Italian Institute for Documentation, Innovation,and Educational Research (INDIRE), former teacher of English, teacher trainer and author of digital content.

Daniela Cuccurullo, moderator of Techno-CLIL for EVO 2016, EFL teacher, tutor, trainer, university contract professor, forum moderator, author of digital content.

Vance Stevens, EFL teacher at HCT/CERT in Al Ain UAE; comoderator of EVO Minecraft MOOC, founder of Webheads in Action, coordinator of Learning2gether podcasts since 2010, and EVO coordinator since 2003.

Christine Bauer-Ramazani, ESL teacher and teacher trainer at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, USA.

Emma Cresswell, moderator of EVO Teachers as Designers 2016, ADoS and EFL teacher and trainer at International House Coimbra, online tutor for International House World Organisation, Cambridge Speaking Examiner. Coimbra, Portugal.

Ania Rolinska, moderator of EVO Teachers as Designers 2016, EAP/ESP tutor and TELT officer at the University of Glasgow, teacher trainer for Certificate in Online Tutoring and online tutor for MA in Education at the University of Derby. Glasgow, Scotland.


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?
  • What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
  • What is your funniest CALL-related incident?

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

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

Christel Broady

Christel Broady, an award-winning teacher, teacher trainer, internationally known keynote speaker, and author/coauthor of books, articles, and social media, has been serving the ELT profession, TESOL, and CALL in many capacities. Christel runs an ELT Professional Learning Community (PLC), which can be found on Facebook (Broadyesl), on her blog, LinkedIn (Christel Broady), and Twitter. The PLC is free for anyone who would like to join members of 179 countries.

Affiliation: Georgetown College

Years in the CALL-IS: More than 5

Q: What is your favorite platform?
A: I LOVE Google for just about everything!!! For online teaching, Canvas. For Blogs, Wordpress.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: Google, hands down.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: Colleagues from all over the world.

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: ELT Professional Learning Community…It is a resource and place of sharing for ELT professionals worldwide, ESL and EFL alike.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am a TESOL columnist for CALL topics [EdTech in ELT, which appears bimonthly in TESOL Connections].

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: To be developed: Putting together international members in sharing so that nobody will "reinvent the wheel" but instead build on each other's work more effectively. Also, to be more pointed in resources—to clearly distinguish between ESL, EFL, or both—so that professionals can find resources for their own areas easier. To be researched: Technology use’s effect on the brain and neuroplasticity.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: 1)Hang out at the Electronic Village as much as possible; 2) get to know others there and build a network; 3) attend hot CALL sessions to see who in the field shares your interests, and connect with them; and 4) share your name as a volunteer for the next convention.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: The incident I remember most was not as much funny (at least for me) as it is memorable: I was supposed to present at one of CALL's academic sessions when I had to accept an award at the same time. The CALL academic session panel worked around my absence while I ran a LONG distance to the award location, accepting and running right back to the session. I was totally out of breath and barely made it back on stage. In the end it worked out and all was good.

Vance Stevens

Vance has worn many hats in his career as an instructor of ESOL, ranging from being a teacher to full- and part-time CALL coordinator, consultant, and software developer. He has been practicing CALL since 1979 and researched an aspect of it for his MA thesis in 1983, and he has since then published well over a hundred articles, reviews, and book chapters on CALL. He has nurtured many CALL-related projects and communities of practice, most notably as cofounder of the CALL Interest Section in 1984, but more recently as cofounder of Webheads in 1998, moderator of the first Webheads in Action EVO session, coordinator of EVO and editor of the TESL-EJ On the Internet section since 2002, founder and host of the podcast series Learning2gether since 2010, and chief organizer of several EVO communities such as Multiliteracies/MultiMOOC for about 10 years, and the EVO Minecraft MOOC, now in its second year.

Affiliation: English Faculty, Higher Colleges of Technology, CERT, KBZAC, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Years in the CALL-IS: 32

Q: Favorite platform?
A: For serious work, PC. I like iPad for certain functionalities.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: Google Docs followed closely by PBWorks.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: Google was quite unexpected at the time, but it has become the source of all information. Facebook and Twitter also, and in that order.

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: That I helped create? Traci Talk.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: Learning2gether has laid down almost 320 podcasts now. EVO Minecraft MOOC is in its second year, but this is turning out to be my new passion.

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: Something to emulate what Technorati did in its early days, and that is, a tool where you can type in a tag and get content associated with that tag across the web, including tagged blog posts created by novice bloggers (i.e., your students) and have it effectively filter for spam.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: Long, long ago we used to debate the extent to which computers could facilitate learning, as in CALL, and it turned out it wasn't the computers per se but the uses to which they were put, some appropriate and insightful, but some simply replicating educational paradigms that had gone before and were no longer relevant.

I would advise the newbie to get beyond CALL. Almost everything contains a computer these days, to the point that the notion of CALL is meaningless. We have to think about how these computers in so many devices can best serve the interests of education at the highest levels of simulation and critical thinking. One direction I've suggested is SMALL (social media–assisted language learning) but others are MALL (mobile-assisted) and so on. My advice is to break with CALL and pursue the next meaningful acronym that refines what aspects of CALL are most useful for discrete purposes, the purpose most relevant to the newbie.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: I'll have to think about it. I have to be careful not to implicate long-time colleagues.

Suzan Stamper

Suzan is a senior lecturer and English language team leader at Yew Chung Community College in Hong Kong. She has been an active member of CALL-IS since 1995 and has served the interest section in various roles: two elected 3-year terms as chair/chair-elect/past chair (2001–2004 & 2009–2012), newsletter editor, columnist, community manager, listserv manager, Internet Fair coordinator, and presenter.

Affiliation: Yew Chung Community College, Hong Kong

Years in the CALL-IS: 21

Q: Favorite platform?
A: Mac.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: It's hard to choose—anything Google or my iPhone.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: I get a lot of inspiration from Facebook—from friends posting about their interests, news articles, or educational sources (e.g., Free Technology for Teachers).

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: In the mid-1990s, I worked in a CALL lab at the University of Kansas and started making simple webpages that were mainly lists of links. At the time, I felt quite isolated in my interests and enjoyed the community of electronic listservs like NETEACH. I remember posting URLs for some holiday webpages on NETEACH and getting quite a few positive responses from teachers in different countries. That inspired me to make more and more webpages. Looking back, those pages weren't my best creations, but they encouraged me to learn more.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: Mostly classroom applications of what interests me. I would like to be involved again in a local community of practice. At Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, I was in two communities. My first was podcasting (2008–2009) and that was followed by an interdisciplinary iPad group (2010–2012). In Hong Kong, I have been involved with two communities: a community of practice with mobile technologies group and a BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, group (2013–2014).

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: It's difficult to think of just one area. I will say that I like to attend two to three technology conferences a year to hear more about what others are doing and researching.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: Volunteer! Volunteer to do something with the CALL Interest Section! Volunteer for an Electronic Village event! Volunteer to run for the Steering Committee or write an article for the newsletter or post something on our listserv. Come to the CALL open meeting in Baltimore to see how you can get more involved. One of the first things I did was volunteer in the Electronic Village and attend a CALL Interest Section meeting. That year (1995), I made quite a few TESOL acquaintances, many of whom are now friends, advisors, and collaborators. Over the years, I have greatly benefited from my time in our CALL community, which is one reason that I enjoy writing this column.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: This wasn't funny at the time, but it makes me smile now. I remember the very first time I saw a webpage loading. It might have been the fall of 1991. I was in a graduate Educational Communications class at the University of Kansas. The professor clicked on the mouse of one of those old square gray Macintosh Classic computers. As we stood around the computer waiting for the page to slowly load, the professor told us that the information was coming from Japan. It was amazing—the other side of the world!

 Suzan is a 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.

General Submission Guidelines

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, for example, wild bergamot.
  11. Have permissions if you use webpage screenshots of webpages, if permissions are required,  you will be sent the proper release form. Please allow time for the forms to be sent to the webpage developers and returned.
  12. 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, typically 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 2015–16 Community Leaders

Steering Committee and EV 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


José Antônio Da Silva


Maria Tomeho-Palermino


Nellie Deustch


Jeff Kuhn


Claudio Fleury

Event Leads

Technology Fairs (

Claudio Fleury
José Antônio da Silva

Miniworkshops (

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

EVO Coordinators

EV Guides/Volunteers

Sandy Wagner

Luke Coffelt


Steve Sharp

Deborah Healey

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