Language Emergence in Collaborative CALL Environments: An Investigation within Higher Education in Oman from a Complexity Theory and Noticing Hypothesis Perspective

  • Faisal Al Saidi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This study investigates the process of the emergence of authentic language use in collaborative activities within computer-assisted language learning (CALL) environments. Despite technology being widely incorporated in English language programmes in higher education institutions in Oman, language study in a CALL context is under-researched in the Omani context. The educational reforms and strategic plans in Oman have always targeted wider incorporation of technology as well as developing English language teaching and learning despite the lack of studies that investigate and explore the ways in which the two might relate in the Omani context. From the joint, and novel, perspectives of Complexity Theory and the Noticing Hypothesis, this study investigates the emergence of authentic language use in collaborative CALL environments and the ways in which this process of emergence relates to collaboration. To achieve this, the study adopts the perspective of Complexity Theory where language development is argued to be emergent, nonlinear, based on the here-and-now context and in constant flux. The study also draws on the Noticing Hypothesis in relation to how and why learners attend to specific features of language in a CALL environment.The study followed a qualitative enquiry design. Data were drawn from twelve groups of three to four learners within three English language classes from a foundation programme in one Omani college. In the course of one semester, two language learning lessons from each class were observed. After each observed lesson, two groups of learners were selected to participate in stimulated recall interviews. The findings indicated that the language emergence process in collaborative CALL environments is triggered by a process of signalling relevance (perceiving a link between Web-based cues and the learners’ goal in a class activity) followed by an action (e.g., a discussion or rereading of the text) and finally the act of evaluating that information as to whether or not it is relevant to the learners’ goals in the activity. The process was also found to be influenced by the participants’ interaction with the multimodal components in the collaborative CALL environment. The findings also indicated that, while carrying out their activities, the participants employed a number of specific strategies that influenced the way in which they attended to particular language, selected information and achieved their goals. The study concludes by identifying a range of recommendations derived from the findings for facilitating the occurrence of authentic language use in a collaborative CALL environment.
Date of Award20 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorKatie Dunworth (Supervisor) & Santiago Sanchez (Supervisor)

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