Is the term "Computer Assisted Language Learning" (CALL) obsolete?

In the article on the link below Krashen and Jarvis suggest that the term CALL is obsolete because it focuses on conscious learning, whereas most students use technology to access online resources un-related to conscious language learning and acquire language as a by-product of their browsing. Have a read of it. It's only short - 5 pages - won't take up much of your time.

Jarvis, H. & Krashen, S. 2014. Is CALL obsolete? Language Acquisition and Language Learning Revisited in a Digital Age. TESL-EJ 17(4).

The 2 results in the above paper are:

"Result One: English language acquirers use the Internet a great deal, and much of this use is in English. This is true for both social and informational use of English."


"Result Two: English language acquirers think that non-pedagogical uses of the computer in English are helpful for English language development, and in some cases value them more than they value pedagogical programs."

That's it.

I'd say that the explanation for result 1 basically boils down to this: Much of the internet is in English and many non-English learners of English use English-medium websites, probably because to avoid doing so would limit their access to all sorts of things on the internet such as social media etc.

Result 2 is not that surprising either. Which of these do you prefer? (a) using language-learning webpages (b) doing all sorts of fun things on the internet using social media etc. The fact that students find (b) helpful in acquiring language does not negate the value of (a). And the range of possibilities covered by (a) is huge, isn't it? What do students really understand by "web pages designed for English language learning"? Do students of a FL really know what's best for them anyway?

Note that the paper focuses on English as a foreign language. I'd argue that English is a special case. I imagine these results would be very different if the same survey were conducted among English speaking learners (or acquirers, if you prefer) of other languages.

The paper's conclusion that CALL is dead seems to hinge on the use of the words "computer" and "learning" in the acronym, and the notion that CALL focuses on conscious learning. So if we change this to "technology" and "acquisition", does that really make any difference? Is TALA a better acronym than CALL? Does any of this matter?

Whatever the acronym, the use of digital media for language learning and/or acquisition -- specifically using tools and materials whose aim is to facilitate this learning / acquisition -- is most definitely not dead.