A Rose by Any Other Name … Part 1

‘Rosa Black Prince’ photograph by my lovely Classicist friend, Maddy Bowman

Over the past year or so, since I first submitted my PhD proposal in February 2012, my title has gone through three different version … hopefully a quick history of them will show progression …

The first version was:

Technology-Assisted Learning for Ancient Languages‘.

This showed that I had a clear idea that I wanted to help (‘assisted’) by using ‘technology’ and that my focus was on ‘learning’ ‘Ancient Languages’.  All that is still true, but I now know that ‘Technology-Assisted’ doesn’t really coincide with the specialist vocabulary of any of the disciplines with which I will be interacting (education, educational technology, second language development, ancient languages, Latin, Ancient Greek).  It does have a plain English meaning and that is fine, but now I see it from the perspective of someone who does know some of that specialist vocabulary, it might look as if I have just got one of the specialist acronyms wrong, or that I have never even heard any of the acronyms and don’t really know what I am talking about (which was actually true at the time I wrote the proposal and is only slightly less true now!). So, for those of you who haven’t taken the plunge into the world of second language development and related technology, here are the acronyms I just missed when I was making up my title:

TELL = Technology-Enhanced Language Learning

Kirkwood and Price tell (No pun intended!) us that
‘Technology-enhanced learning (TEL) is used to describe the application of information and communication technologies to teaching and learning. Explicit statements about what the term is understood to mean are rare and it is not evident that a shared understanding has been developed in higher education of what constitutes an enhancement of the student learning experience’ (2013:1).

CALL = Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Meanwhile, in 1987, Levy defined Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) as ‘the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning’, noting that ‘the nature of CALL at any particular time is, to a large degree, a reflection of the level of development of technology’ (1-2).  Subsequent developments in technology have taken the scope of CALL far beyond the ‘computer’.

So, I avoided making a decision about aligning myself with either of these modern language acronyms and a made small amount of progress by changing my title to ‘eLearning for Ancient Languages‘.  I was quite pleased with this because the phrase ‘eLearning’, now subsumed under TELL in modern language learning scholarship, is just coming into favour for Classics-related stuff or at least that seems to be the case from the Classical Association panels of 2013 and those under construction for 2014.  This lets me cherish the illusion that I can get a bit ahead of the game by keeping one foot in modern language learning, while contriving to keep the other foot in ‘proper’ Classics circles by attaching myself to current parlance there.  How this will all work out is yet to unfold, but my ‘eLearning for Ancient Languages’ title was very short-lived – I think my supervisors and I agreed on it for all of 20 minutes before deciding I needed to move on to something altogether more descriptive of what I was actually going to do … of which more in Part 2 🙂

Kirkwood, A. and Price, L. (2013) ‘Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in higher education: what is ‘enhanced’ and how do we know? A critical literature review’ in Learning, Media and Technology (In press)

Levy, M. (1997) Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization, Oxford


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