second language reading through CALL


  In the contemporary global landscape, proficiency in reading a second language (L2) transcends academic achievement, serving as a bridge to diverse cultures, knowledge, and opportunities. The advent of second language reading through CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning)  marks a pivotal shift in language education, presenting dynamic, interactive tools that extend beyond the conventional classroom’s confines. While the potential of CALL to bolster L2 reading is considerable, unlocking this potential necessitates a nuanced comprehension of both its capabilities and the inherent challenges of integrating technology within the intricate process of language learning.

  This literature review embarks on a critical examination of CALL’s utility in surmounting   the specific hurdles associated with L2 reading. It scrutinizes empirical research on the efficacy of diverse CALL tools and methodologies, considering how their adoption is shaped by technological, pedagogical, and socio-cultural factors. Aimed at offering a layered understanding of CALL, this review dissects its strengths and weaknesses, providing insights into optimizing its application in language instruction.

  Focusing on second language reading—a cornerstone skill for academic excellence and global communication—this review endeavors to shed light on evidence-based strategies for CALL’s effective deployment. Moreover, it highlights the persisting research questions critical to advancing the CALL domain. Ultimately, this review seeks to enrich the discourse on technology-assisted language learning, advocating for the development of effective, inclusive CALL practices in second language reading instruction.

Demonstrated Effectiveness of CALL for L2 Reading

  Second Language Reading through CALLThe impact of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) on enhancing second language (L2) reading proficiency is well-documented. A quintessential example is CALL glossing, which, as Taylor (2021) reveals in a meta-analysis, significantly bolsters L2 reading comprehension. This study not only attests to glossing’s efficacy but also accentuates the necessity of tailoring gloss types (textual vs. pictorial) to learners’ needs—a testament to CALL’s potential to cater to the diverse preferences of L2 learners. For instance, Taylor found that textual glosses, when used in conjunction with questions assessing comprehension, led to a notable improvement in understanding complex texts among intermediate learners.

  Further evidence of CALL’s potency emerges from Wang and Liao’s (2017) investigation into its integration with collaborative learning strategies. Their research, which demonstrated notable advancements in language skills, including L2 reading proficiency, when CALL was merged with innovative pedagogical methods, underscores the symbiotic relationship between technology and pedagogy. This alignment with Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory highlights how social interaction, mediated by digital tools, can enhance cognitive development and language acquisition.

Socio-Cultural Considerations in CALL

  Integrating CALL into L2 reading instruction demands an acute awareness of the socio-cultural barriers impacting its acceptance. Dani (2023) explores the generational divide in reading preferences, revealing a stark contrast between digital-native Generation Z and analog-preferring Generation X. This dichotomy suggests that a uniform approach to CALL may alienate certain learner demographics, emphasizing the need for adaptable and versatile CALL solutions.

  Moreover, the essence of community and inclusivity in language learning is poignantly captured by Mikroyannidis, Perifanou, and Economides (2023), who illustrate how an open-source language learning platform can bridge cultural divides and foster cross-cultural understanding. Their initiative resonates with the principles of sustainable design, illustrating CALL’s capacity to democratize language learning and ensure its long-term viability and relevance.

Technological Challenges and Innovations

  Understanding the technological constraints and ongoing innovations is paramount for the fruitful implementation of CALL in L2 reading. Saba (2022) critiques the limitations of CALL, notably its struggle to mimic the intricacies of natural language learning environments. This critique points to a significant gap in CALL development, urging for tools that facilitate not just mechanical interaction but also authentic, meaningful language use.

  Dimulescu and Nechifor (2022) underscore the importance of mobile learning in making language instruction more accessible and tailored, particularly for English for Specific Purposes (ESP). This aligns with emerging needs for flexibility in learning, enabling students to engage with language content that directly pertains to their field of study or interest.

Where CALL Falls Short: Limitations & Critiques

  Despite the optimistic horizon that CALL presents, its limitations, particularly in simulating the complex interplay of natural language learning, remain a pertinent critique. As Saba (2022) points out, the technological reproduction of linguistic subtleties and social interactions inherent in language acquisition poses a considerable challenge. This limitation is notably impactful in the realm of L2 reading, where depth of comprehension and fluency hinges on engaging with the language in its natural, unstructured form. Recognizing and addressing these limitations are critical for educators and developers alike to navigate effectively, ensuring CALL’s strengths are maximized while its shortcomings are mitigated through complementary pedagogical strategies.

  Additionally, the specialization required for effective English for Specific Purposes (ESP) instruction, as discussed by Dimulescu and Nechifor (2022), illustrates another dimension of CALL’s limitations. The demand for CALL tools to adapt to the specialized lexicon and discourse patterns of various fields underscores the need for customizable and flexible CALL solutions, tailored to meet the specific needs of diverse learner populations.

Assessing the Impact and Choosing CALL Approaches

  The effectiveness of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in second language (L2) reading has emerged from a robust body of research, underscoring CALL’s dynamic potential to facilitate significant learning gains. Studies such as those conducted by Taylor (2021) and Wang and Liao (2017) have illuminated the nuanced ways in which CALL can enhance reading comprehension and fluency, presenting a compelling case for its integration into language learning curricula. These findings are rooted in a blend of cognitive and sociocultural theoretical frameworks, suggesting that CALL’s multimedia tools can support multiple channels of information processing, while its capacity for authentic social interaction aids in the application of language in real-world contexts.

  Despite the optimistic landscape painted by current research, gaps remain that challenge the comprehensive adoption of CALL. The variability in CALL’s effectiveness across different learner demographics, highlighted by contrasting preferences between digital and analog reading modalities, suggests an area ripe for deeper exploration. Moreover, the question of how different CALL tools affect long-term learner engagement and motivation in L2 reading remains only partially answered, indicating a crucial direction for future research endeavors.

  As the technological landscape continues to evolve, so too does the interface of CALL with language learning, beckoning a continuous assessment of its methodologies against emerging educational needs. The promise of CALL in fostering not only linguistic competencies but also cultural awareness and global connectivity underscores the necessity of further investigative work. This future research must pivot towards elucidating the long-term impacts of CALL on L2 reading proficiency, and how personalization and adaptability of CALL resources can meet the diverse needs of an increasingly global learner population.

  In navigating the selection of CALL approaches, the synthesis of empirical evidence with practical educational considerations becomes paramount. The balance between theoretical robustness and empirical support against the backdrop of accessibility and pedagogical relevance will guide the effective implementation of CALL strategies. This strategic selection is driven by the imperative to not only harness the benefits of current CALL technologies but also to anticipate the evolving landscape of language education in a technologically integrated world.

  Through a meticulous analysis of existing research and the identification of pivotal areas for further inquiry, this literature review contributes to a foundational understanding of CALL’s role in L2 reading. The ongoing dialogue between current knowledge and the anticipation of future technological and pedagogical advancements encapsulates the dynamic challenge of optimizing CALL’s impact on language learning. As educators, researchers, and technologists collaborate, the exploration of CALL in L2 reading continues to unfold, promising avenues for enriching language education in our increasingly interconnected world.


  This literature review has traversed the multifaceted domain of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), illuminating its significant potential to redefine second language reading instruction. However, it also brings to light the myriad challenges and considerations that accompany the adoption of CALL, from technological constraints and socio-cultural barriers to the critical need for pedagogical alignment.

To move forward, future research must concentrate on bridging the gap between CALL’s current capabilities and the authentic, interactive experiences essential for robust L2 reading development. This includes addressing the technological limitations that hinder the simulation of natural language learning environments and enhancing the adaptability of CALL tools to meet the diverse needs of learners.

  Moreover, the development of CALL applications should prioritize inclusivity, aiming to create accessible, user-friendly platforms that support a wide range of learning styles and preferences. By fostering a collaborative effort among educators, researchers, and technology developers, the field of CALL can continue to evolve, offering more effective and engaging learning experiences for second language readers.

  In essence, this review advocates for a balanced and critical approach to the integration of CALL in L2 reading instruction, one that recognizes its vast potential while also acknowledging the complexities of effective implementation. Through continuous innovation, rigorous evaluation, and a commitment to inclusivity, the promise of CALL to enhance second language reading skills can be fully realized, paving the way for a new generation of proficient and confident L2 readers.


Coy, A., Mohammed, P. S., Hosein, A., Skerrit, P., Mohammed, A., & Lewis-Fokum, Y. (2021). Increasing the integration of computer-assisted language learning in Caribbean schools: Lessons from the use of an intelligent spelling tutor during COVID-19. Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies, 46(1 and 2), 60-90.

Dani, E. (2023). Analogous versus digital reading: A comparative study. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Philologica, 15(1), 177–191.

Dimulescu, C., & Nechifor, A. (2022). Accommodating English for specific purposes to computer assisted language learning. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series IV: Philology and Cultural Studies, 14(63).

Mikroyannidis, A., Perifanou, M., & Economides, A. A. (2023). Developing a sustainable online platform for language learning across Europe. Computers, 12(7), 140.

Saba, N. (2022). A critical analysis of computer assisted language learning (CALL) in particular relation to the learning of speaking skills of a foreign language. Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results, 13(Special Issue 7), 5285-5289.

Taylor, A. M. (2021). Technology and reading: The effects of CALL glossing. Psychological Reports, 124(5), 2092–2118.

Wang, Y.-h., & Liao, H.-C. (2017). Learning performance enhancement using computer-assisted language learning by collaborative learning groups. Symmetry, 9(8), 141.

By Alan Wood

Musings of an unabashed and unapologetic liberal deep in the heart of a Red State. Crusader against obscurantism. Optimistic curmudgeon, snark jockey, lovably opinionated purveyor of wisdom and truth. Multi-lingual world traveler and part-time irreverent philosopher who dabbles in writing, political analysis, and social commentary. Attempting to provide some sanity and clarity to complex issues with a dash of sardonic wit and humor. Thanks for visiting!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.