In recent years, the field of Second Language
Acquisition (SLA) has made great strides to refocus its attention on the
essential role that vocabulary plays in becoming a proficient L2 learner (Nation,
2001). Moreover, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
has made advances in providing interactive online tools that help L2 learners
strategically engage and work through their vocabulary development. This
present study reports on how an Intelligent CALL tool (ICALL), Langbot,
helps learners at the beginner and intermediate levels with their lexical
acquisition. Modeled after instant messaging systems, which create a
synchronous communicative environment, Langbot acts like a pedagogical
scaffold or online buddy that caters to the vocabulary needs of each
individual learner. It provides 1) translation requests with examples in
context, 2) a frequency-based “word of the day” and 3)
quizzes based on recent inquiries and a specific frequency range according to
the learner’s level. The results from breadth and depth tests (N = 142), suggest that
learners at all levels that have access to Langbot significantly improve their
vocabulary breadth, while only intermediate-high learners with access to
Langbot improve their vocabulary depth. Furthermore, survey data demonstrate Langbot’s
effectiveness and accessibility based on learner perceptions.
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