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7

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Preface

  • Fastest way to learn a language guaranteed‖ ―Learn Spanish now!‖ These

phrases, commercialized by various language software companies, poignantly reflect the

marketing desires of these companies to play to people‘s need for instant gratification.

People want to be able to speak another language NOW! With the growth of instant

communication technologies in a global society compounded with a wave of immigration

not seen in the past 100 years, American society struggles with the realization that a

mixture of many ethnicities and languages is the current and future reality; the melting

pot, perhaps an applicable metaphor earlier in history, does not describe the needs of the

citizens in the 21st century. Less than 20% of United States citizens know at least one

other language, the majority of whom speak Spanish ass a second language (El Mundo,

2007). Access to language study has significantly improved as a result of the internet,

computer

technology

and

digital

media.

What

role

can

such

multimedia

play

in

furthering the language learning opportunities in order to better prepare globally

competent

citizens

who

can

fully

participate

in

our

diverse

society?

The

question

becomes whether or not computers can actually help a person acquire another language.

The ―melting pot‖ metaphor was originally used to refer to the assimilation of

new immigrants in the United States (Booth, 1998). The term suggested that immigrants

should learn the cultures, values, beliefs and language of the people of the dominant

culture and language, English. Today, advocates for diversity favor the ―mixing bowl‖ or

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