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Special Interest Group (SIG) in Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning (ICALL) of NEALT.

NEALT is a North European Association of Language Technology

Purposes of SIG-ICALL

Learning and teaching languages with the assistance of a computer, i.e. computer-assisted language learning (CALL), has become widespread since the early 1980s. Traditional CALL applications provide limited exercise types, along with limited ability to provide feed-back, because the exercises are static, i.e. pre-programmed, and the answers have to be pre-stored.

To try to overcome this disadvantage, some researchers have started to use techniques from the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Speech Technology (ST) in CALL system, i.e. supplying CALL applications with some kind of intelligence. As a result, the interdisciplinary field of Intelligent CALL (ICALL), i.e. combining NLP, ST and CALL, has emerged over the past 20 years or so.

There is an array of NLP/ST resources and tools potentially available for re-use in ICALL applications for a number of languages, including Nordic languages, but this opportunity has so far remained relatively underdeveloped. It is surprising that existing NLP/ST tools and resources do not tend to find their way into the language learning classroom, despite their obvious potential uses in language learning. The reasons may be twofold. On the one hand, there is a lack of interested sponsors. On the other hand, there is a general lack of awareness in the NLP/ST community of the relevance of CALL applications to our field. While this seems to have changed for the better for English and a small number of other languages in the past ten years, it still holds true for the Nordic languages.

It seems that the few systems that have been developed for ICALL are either copyrighted and restricted by high licensing fees – and hence too expensive for universities and schools – or fall short of the required quality in linguistic or pedagogical functionality.

This situation calls for a change. In view of that, we have decided to create a forum for those who are currently interested in this area, as well as to take steps to raise the profile of this area among other NLP/ST researchers and developers.

We intend to engage in the following:

  • Organize a specialized workshop series, NLP4CALL, in association with computational linguistics conferences, especially in Northern Europe. (See a list of the past and current workshops in the menu on the left.)
  • Set up a mailing list for exchanging ideas and finding interested partners for potential studies/projects. If you are interested to join, please, mail your name, email and affiliation to ildikop at ifi dot uio dot no.
  • Actively update this web page as a way to disseminate information on ongoing ICALL projects, applications, NLP tool-kits, lists of re-usable web services, conferences etc.

Related SIGs and workshops

  • Pedagogically oriented CALL
    • ICALL SIG of EuroCALL is a European cousin of CALICO (Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium) ICALL SIG (below). EuroCALL is primarily a pedagogical conference on computer-assisted language learning
    • ICALL SIG of CALICO is a North American cousin of EuroCALL NLP SIG. CALICO is also mainly oriented towards pedagogy of teaching languages with assistance of computers. To subscribe to their mail services, go to this page
  • Language Technology oriented
    • SIGEDU of the Association for Computational Linguistics which organizes the annual workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA)
    • SLaTE SIG of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA). SLaTE organizes a biannual workshop series and it also endorses a recent series of workshops on Language Teaching, Learning and Technology (LTLT)
    • NLPTEA workshop series on Natural Language Processing Techniques for Educational Applications, held in the Asian area, co-located often with a major computational linguistics conference (e.g. ACL-IJCNLP, COLING)
    • enetCollect, the European Network for Combining Language Learning with Crowdsourcing Techniques is a COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action organizing annual meetings and additional focused workshops and hackathons

Many of the groups listed above also have mailing lists, visit their respective pages for more information about how to join them.

Relevant associations and major conference series

Relevant journals

Related links


  • Current: Ildikó Pilán, University of Oslo, Norway, ildikop at ifi dot uio dot no
  • Past: Elena Volodina, Gothenurg University, Sweden, elena dot volodina at svenska dot gu dot se