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TELLing vs CALLing in Education

After Decades Without An Upgrade, Education is Finally Catching Up With The Technological Age

Technology Enhanced Language Learning TELL is a fairly new term in the lexicon of the English Language Teaching Community. Computer Aided Language Learning CALL was the term that is more familiar to professionals in the world of English Language Teaching. CALL took center stage in 2020 when the world was forced to socially distance as a result of the Global CoVid-19 Pandemic. It was at this juncture in history that educators across the globe were thrusted into the world of CALL.

At least that was the case for educators in first world countries. In developing nations like Cameroon, the transition to CALL still has yet to take hold. While teachers and students in first world nations were scrambling to adjust to the transition of teaching and learning on computers, teachers in Cameroon were challenged to conduct classes using APPs and other types of technology on their phones. Yet for many, teaching with the use of an App on a cell phone was still a tall order. The challenge of reliable and consistent power, and fluid internet still a reality for most teachers. And for every 1 teacher who had access to a computer or an App, there were 50 students without access to either.

The abrupt shift in educational methodologies forged the way for the transformation from CALL to TELL by forcing the delivery of English through avenues other than a computer. By shifting from the use of the word ‘Computer’ to an expanded use of the word ‘Technology,’ English Language teachers in Cameroon were able to explore creative ways through which to deliver English Language teaching.

Having practiced an outdated educational pedagogy for so long, many educators in Cameroon were unfamiliar with methods of adapting their instruction to meet the new technology driven educational model. Even non-traditional methods of TELL like gardening and cooking were unfamiliar to teachers. Mainly because ‘technologies’ like ‘cooking’ and ‘gardening’ were not considered ‘types’ of technologies at all; when in fact, those technologies have been the tried and true mediums of language learning since the beginning of time; which later became known as Home Economics.

If the broader definition of the word Technology; the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry; is applied to language learning, not only will cooking and gardening be considered a sort of technology, but so will plumbing, carpentry, data processing, and other fields of applied knowledge. Language teaching with the expanded use of the word Technology, will have positive implications on industry; which due to the growing demand for technological skills in the workforce, along with the impact of Covid, noticed a widening gap between the needs of industry and the skills of workers entering the workforce. For developing countries like Cameroon, TELL means English Language can be taught while developing other industry needed skills, like Data Entry, AI, Digital Marketing, Carpentry, Nursing, and Plumbing rather than being taught in isolation.

The question now becomes how will old technologies be interwoven into the new world of Technology Enhanced Language Learning?

A team of researchers, from PKFokam Institute of Excellence lead by English Language Fellow, Karen A Francis, is on a journey to uncover that mystery. Although, teaching via those old technologies is not a mystery at all. The methods of teaching that were facilitated through Home Economics are now referred to as, Project Based Instruction. PBI is actually the method through which learning most naturally occurs and research documents that. What is not documented is the impact of PBI via TELL on the development of speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills in West Africa students.

Armed with the latest TELL Teaching Methodologies, along with data from their research, the PKFokam research team will provide a report of their ongoing action research at the First Annual Technology Enhanced Language Learning Conference : January 27-29, 2023 at PKFokam Institute of Excellence in Yaounde, Cameroon.

ELF Karen A Francis, her co-researchers, and English Language Instructors from across Africa, will host PBL via TELL Teacher Development Workshops during the Conference and via Zoom and Virtual Reality technologies. Tech Companies demonstrating the latest in Educational Technology and Resources will also be in attendance at the event.

To facilitate cross cultural Projects, Conference attendees will have the opportunity to explore and join Technology Enhanced Projects with students from Cameroonian other regions in Africa.

Meaningful and collaborative projects like the PKFokam Business and Investment Club’s Online Language Learning Platform, is an example of one such opportunity. The Platform offers English Language Teachers, Trainers, and Universities interested in collaborating the opportunity to facilitate English Language Courses and Projects via the platform.

Interested collaborators are invited to use the Club’s Teaching and Project Platform to register for the Conference and to submit Project, Teaching, Partnership, and Sponsorship inquiries.

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