The essay intitled Computer-Enhanced Language Learning Environments: An Overview by Egbert, J., Chao, C. & Hanson-Smith, E. (1999) constitutes the first chapter of J. Egbert & E. Hanson-Smith (Eds.) CALL Environments: Research, Practice and Critical Issues (pp. 1-13). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. The authors sustain the importance of teachers connecting and critically applying the research to practice in order to create an optimal CALL environment.
Egbert, Chao, and Hanson-Smith (1999) start their discussion from the premise that, although the application of technology changes practice, however an hypothetical theory of CALL would not be very different from an integrated theory of language acquisition, as they both are founded on similar principles of language development. Therefore, the first part of the chapter is dedicated to an overview of what most of the researchers and teachers seem to agree on as the essential component of language acquisition, which is the learning environment, and focuses in detail on the eight necessary conditions for reaching an optimal language learning environment: interaction and negotiation of meaning, interaction with an authentic audience, getting involved in authentic tasks, exposure to and production of varied and creative language, getting enough time and feedback, a mindful learning process, working in an atmosphere with an ideal stress/anxiety level and learner's autonomy (4).
The second part of the essay connects the above eight conditions to the CALL environment, offering an outline of important trends and issues in current CALL research that teachers need to be aware of. The authors' declared goal is to provide "general guidelines for developing inquiries in the area of CALL", so that teachers are able to "uncover ways to meet the eight conditions for learning" in their own setting (7).
I find very useful the authors' intent in giving teachers "tips" on how to make educated choices when relating to the research that has been done in CALL and help them not only identify the relevant issues it presents, but also to apply and use them in practice. I also agree with the essay's authors that one of the main aspects CALL research still has to deal with and shed light on is that "computers (or the introduction of any new factor) can radically change the environment (9), therefore a comparison between a CALL and a non-CALL environment is unadequate in terms of teaching methods and it would only work against an effective use of computers in the language learning process.