Latest Issue: Vol 34, No 2 (2017) RSS2 logo

CfP: Special Issue 36.1 Critical CALL

Topic/Title: Moving forward with critical CALL to promote social inclusivity
Guest editors: Jesse Gleason, Southern Connecticut State University
Ruslan Suvorov, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Over the past 20 years, there have been marked changes in the ways that technology has been used for language learning and teaching. As a result of emerging technologies and their pedagogical applications in the field of applied linguistics, studies in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) have grown exponentially in number and scope. As movement toward integrative CALL, where technological implantation “in every classroom, on every desk, in every bag” (Bax, 2003, p. 21) varies by context, more attention must be paid to a critical analysis of the role played by integrative CALL in (re)producing issues of power, ideology, and injustice. Critical CALL presents an opportunity for “engagement with issues of power and inequality and an understanding of how our classrooms and conversations are related to broader social, cultural and political relations” (Helm, 2015, p. 4). Although these critical approaches are not new to the field of applied linguistics (Bernstein, 1975; Fairclough, 1989; van Dijk, 1993), growing attention to how CALL plays a role in “the (re)production and challenge of dominance” (van Dijk, 1993, p. 249) is sorely needed.
This special issue will explore the interplay between technology-mediated language learning and issues of social injustice, power, and inequality. As Guo and Beckett (2007) argue, “the increasing dominance of the English language is contributing to neocolonialism by empowering the already powerful and leaving the disadvantaged further behind” (p. 117). Integral questions from the perspective of critical CALL include: How does technology play a role in this dynamic? How do neoliberal principles such as an individualistic competition model and CALL intertwine? (How) can we leverage technology to promote “social inclusion” (Warschauer, 2003, p. 8)? Gruba and Hinkelman’s (2012) three-tiered approach to the design and evaluation of blended learning experiences provides a springboard for expanding the study of critical CALL. Where most critical CALL research to date has been concerned with micro-level issues (e.g., how a particular technology used in a particular classroom helped students learn the target language), there is relatively little discussion of meso-level issues and macro-level issues. By focusing on these two areas, the special issue issue seeks to uncover which structures, strategies, or modes of technology-mediated language instruction serve to “enact, sustain, legitimate, condone or ignore social inequality and injustice” (van Dijk, 1993, p. 252). Ultimately, it asks a similar question to that posed by Motha (2014, p. xxiii): How do we participate in CALL “in a way that is responsible, ethical, and conscious of the consequences of our practice”?
In light of the affordances that technology provides, including potential access to “open” and “free” tools for language learning (e.g., MOOCs), critical CALL must draw attention to how such resources can work to ameliorate or in some cases perhaps exacerbate problems of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality (Andrejevic, 2007; Menezes de Souza, 2015). A clear description and evaluation of critical CALL at the meso- and macro-levels will add to previous research at the micro-level (Helm, Bradley, Guarda & Thouësny, 2015), providing a roadmap for critical CALL grounded in the promotion of equality, access, and social justice. The editors invite studies that utilize a critical CALL perspective to topics and questions such as:
• Technology, new/multi-literacies, and social inclusivity
• CALL in the era of globalization and the networked society
• Access to technology in developed vs. developing countries
• Social media and CALL
• Diffusion of CALL in restricted contexts/communities (e.g., Internet restrictions/censorship in China)
• What solutions can CALL provide to potentially negative impacts of neoliberal policies on world language education, such as redistribution of fiscal resources and disinvestment in public schooling, the positioning of students as consumers rather than critical learners, and further marginalization and exclusion of disadvantaged groups from quality education?
• What is the interplay between normalisation in CALL and social, political, economic issues? How can critical CALL expose and address these issues?
• How do technology-mediated pedagogical practices align or misalign with more recent efforts toward promoting a socially-oriented, culturally-embedded view of language and learning? What are the affordances and constraints of institutional policies or existing national standards for CALL?
• What can we as CALL theorists and practitioners do to close the digital divide and promote social inclusion? What changes in our praxis do we need to make in order to better tackle social, political, and economic issues? What technological, human, economic, and social resources are essential for this mission?
• How are decisions about technology and language learning at the classroom (micro) influenced by and in turn, how do they influence departmental (meso), institutional, and broader social, political, and economic (macro) levels? How do such decisions play a role in the (re)production of power and control?
Moving forward with critical CALL to promote social inclusivity will cultivate a discussion of and take a critical stance on the role of technology in broader meso- and macro-level language learning contexts in order to problematize and propose solutions to issues of inequality, marginalization, and social injustice. By bringing together a collection of articles in the above areas, it will move forward with critical CALL in order to seek solutions to fundamental social, political, and economic problems. Abstracts between 200-300 words can be submitted as email attachment (word or pdf format only please) to and by July 15, 2017. Please note that abstract acceptance does not guarantee publication of the submitted manuscript. All manuscripts will be subject to a double blind peer review process.

Production timeline:
First Call for Papers: May 1, 2017
Second Call for Papers: June 1, 2017
Deadline for submission of abstracts: July 15, 2017 (by email to the guest editors)
Authors are notified of acceptance: July 31, 2017
Authors submit full manuscripts for review: Dec 1, 2017 (normal author submission through CJ’s OJS)
Authors receive first-round reviews: February 28, 2018
Revised manuscripts due: April 30, 2018
Editorial decision by the guest editors: June 30, 2018
Special Issue to be published: Jan, 2019

Andrejevic, M. (2007). Surveillance in the digital enclosure. The Communication Review, 10, 295–317. DOI: 10.1080/10714420701715365
Bax, S. (2003). Call – Past, present and future. System, 31, 13–28.
Bernstein, B. (1975). Class, codes, control (Vol. 3). London, UK: Routledge.
Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. London, UK: Longman.
Guo, Y., & Beckett, G. (2007). The hegemony of English as a global language: Reclaiming local knowledge and culture in China. Convergence, 40, 117–132.
Gruba, P., & Hinkelman, D. (2012). Blending technologies in second language classrooms. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Helm, F. (2015). Critical CALL. In F. Helm, L. Bradley, M. Guarda, & S. Thouësny (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2015 EuroCALL Conference (pp. 1–6). Padova, Italy:
Helm, F., Bradley, L., Guarda, M., & Thouësny, S. (Eds.) (2015). Proceedings of the 2015 EuroCALL Conference. Padova, Italy:
Menezes de Souza, L. M. T. (2015). Reading the web: Critical possibilities for education. Plenary presentation at the annual EuroCALL Conference: Critical CALL. Padova, Italy. Retrieved from:
Motha, S. (2014). Race, empire, and English language teaching: Creating responsible and ethical anti-racist practice. New York, NY: Columbia University Teachers College.
van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse and Society, 4(2), 249–283.
Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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