CF: From SLA to second language use: Qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to research in CALL today

Special Issue: CALICO Journal 32.2, September 2015

Guest editors: Regine Hampel and Ursula Stickler, The Open University, UK

From second language acquisition to second language use:
Qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to research in CALL today

Researchers in recent years have been pointing to the limitations of
quantitative approaches, which examine second language acquisition, and have
been stressing the importance of sociocultural and postmodern theories
alongside qualitative methodologies or mixed approaches combining
qualitative and quantitative methods that explore language use (e.g. Block
2003, CALICO Journal special issue 28(3) 2011, Kramsch 2002).

A number of different theories from a variety of disciplines support the use
of more qualitative approaches in social sciences generally and in education
and applied linguistics more specifically. These theories will inform the
contributions to this special issue which will argue for qualitative or
mixed-method approaches to researching learners’ activities in CALL

Sociocultural theories are based on the notion that learners construct
learning in interaction with their environment (e.g. Lantolf & Thorne 2006,
Vygotsky 1978, Wertsch 1991). The ecological perspective (Kramsch 2003, van
Lier 2004), for example, places language learning and the language learner
into a wider context and stresses the agency of learners, while complex
systems theory (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron 2008) emphasizes how the various
elements of the environment (including peers, teachers, and tools) are in
constant shift, influencing each other. A conversation analysis approach can
help to explore the impact of technological mediation on communication in an
L2 classroom. Activity theory (Engeström 1987) can be used to explain
elements of the “activity” of learning and their connection to other
elements within the activity triangle(s), including, amongst others, the
learner’s goals, their social environment, other learners, the tools they
use for learning, and the – often unspoken – rules and assumptions on
which their learning activity is based (Montoro 2012). Ethnographic
approaches are useful for exploring CALL from the point of view of the
participants in the field – which could be a second language class using
CALL or an online community of informal language learners.

Postmodern and critical theories of language use, e.g. those that focus on
superdiversity, migration, and identity, can also be brought into play to
enhance our understanding of the language learning process, the impact of
technology, and changes in identity that may result from language learning.
One of the methods used to investigate language learning and development in
relation to these aspects is critical discourse analysis (e.g. Blommaert et
al. 2001, 2005, Rampton 2013). Geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon 2003)
constitutes a further – emerging – approach which is based on semiotic
theory that emphasises the importance of context for meaning making.
Language is thus seen as located in a physical, as well as a meaning space,
necessitating learners to understand how to interpret and use “signs”
and symbols in their environment.

Contributions will cover qualitative approaches, which will be broadly
conceived to include those that
–       favour understanding the subjective world of human experience over
explaining objective reality,
–       problematize social and political practice,
–       have a non-experimental research design,
–       use qualitative methods to approach data,
–       rely on interpretive analysis.

        By bringing together a variety of authors who have employed qualitative or
mixed-method methodologies to researching CALL, this Special Issue will
raise the awareness of researchers regarding the rich data and the valuable
insights that these approaches can generate when applied to aspects of
language learning using new technologies. The articles chosen will also
highlight the rigor and trustworthiness of such approaches.

        It is our hope that the Special Issue will stimulate debate about (1) the
criteria used to evaluate research in CALL, (2) the increasing importance
placed on understanding the learner’s perspective (giving learners a
voice) and focusing on the learning process and on the context in which
learning takes place, rather than on the product, and (3) the shift from
explaining to understanding entailed in moving from quantitative to more
qualitatively oriented research. In a wider sense, the Special Issue will
illustrate how qualitative and mixed-method approaches can deepen the
insights generated by more traditionally used quantitative methodologies and
contribute to creating a more balanced research landscape in CALL.

First Call for Papers    9 Jan 2014
Deadline for submission of abstracts     28 Feb 2014
Notification of contributors     31 Mar 2014
First draft of papers to be submitted    31 July 2014
Returned to authors for changes  31 Oct 2014
Second draft of papers to be submitted   31 Dec 2014
Returned to authors for final changes    31 Apr 2015
Special Issue to be published    Sep 2015

Abstracts: 200-300 words, submitted as email attachment (docx, doc, rtf) to
both  and
Submission of full manuscripts: After acceptance of the abstract, follow the
submission guidelines at CALICO Journal’s Open Journal System (OJS).

details see Make sure
you are a registered author with CJ and follow the stepwise submission
process. As the Journal section, select “Special Issue –