The CALL-SLA interface: Insights from a second-order synthesis

Luke Plonsky, Nicole Ziegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The relationship between computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and second language acquisition (SLA) has been studied both extensively, covering numerous subdomains, and intensively, resulting in hundreds of primary studies. It is therefore no surprise that CALL researchers, as in other areas of applied linguistics, have turned in recent years to meta-analysis as a means to synthesize quantitative results across studies. To date, nearly 30 CALL-SLA syntheses and meta-analyses have been conducted, covering topics from hypertext glosses (Yun, 2011) to synchronous computer-mediated communication (Ziegler, 2015) to game-based learning (Chiu, Kao, & Reynolds, 2012). Despite these individual contributions, the overall effects of CALL on SLA across domains have yet to be addressed. In this 'second-order' review, we provide a thorough account of substantive findings and a critical description and evaluation of methodological practices of CALL-SLA meta-analyses. We begin by describing the generally substantial effects of CALL on L2 learning along with an examination of different types of technology such as CALL glosses and computer-mediated communication (CMC). Results of the methodological review reveal wide variability overall and in several practices associated with rigor, transparency, and utility of meta-analytic reviews. At the close of our article, we provide empirically identified recommendations for future primary and meta-analytic research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-37
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage Learning and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Meta-analysis
  • Research methods
  • Second language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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