Vance Stevens on thinking SMALL at the 2019 PELLTA conference in Penang Malaysia

Learning2gether episode #409

The Penang English Language Learning and Teaching Association (PELLTA, holds its international conference every other year in Penang, Malaysia. I was fortunate to be in Penang for the one in held April 17-19,  2019, and to get a paper accepted there entitled Thinking SMALL: A case for social media assisted language learning, presented in a half-hour slot on the last day of the conference.

CALL is by definition computer-assisted language learning, but computers are integrated into almost everything electronic. Bax argued that computers have become so normalized that the C in CALL is decreasingly descriptive. A better acronym would more accurately characterize the role computers play in language learning.

The purpose of language is communication, and students internalize languages through meaningful communication. Computers excel at facilitating communication among language learners and native speakers of a language, largely through social media. I believe that SM assists LL more than does the old C and over the past decade I have encouraged people to “think SMALL” in recognition of the diminished role of computers vs. how they help learners acquire a target language.

Many other acronyms have been proposed to replace the C in CALL; e.g. MALL, TALL, TELL, etc. In this presentation I review the case I have made in publications promoting SMALL since 2009, and show from my experience how using social media in my roles as editor, collaborator, and founder of several communities of practice helps teachers model productive social media techniques for one another, which in turn can inform their teaching practice.

I announced in my social media networks that my presentation would be webcast as Learning2gether episode #409  live from Penang, Malaysia, where I would present in half an hour a case for SMALL, social media assisted language learning. I noted that since there is too much information in this topic to present it in only half an hour, therefore the presentation would be flipped, in that the full version of the presentation is made available for viewing either before or after the brief version of the presentation itself.

I have been mooting the idea of calling CALL SMALL in the literature and web artifacts posted online since 2009. At the TESOL conference this year in Atlanta I was invited to join a panel on SMALL, the topic which had been proposed as the CALL Interest Section’s academic session at the conference. This event is archived here:

In addition, I have had a proposal on the topic accepted at the CALL Research Conference in Hong Kong this coming July 10-12, 2019. You can find a full show notes description of this presentation with links to its artifacts here:

The talk proposed for Penang is addressed at a different audience than for the two major conferences, and provides a slant on the topic that is unique to the other two presentations. The presentation materials therefore bridge the two and document the online presentations, articles, and recordings I have prepared on the topic so far. By presenting in Penang in Zoom, I intended for this presentation to augment that archive.

In Zoom webcast live from the biennial PELLTA conference at the Bayview Hotel, Georgetown, Penang,, Malaysia

The Google Slides with fully functional hyperlinks are on open access here:

I made two Zoom recordings

Announcements were made at the following Facebook Groups

and on Twitter



Earlier events

Tue Apr 2 thru Apr 5 – 53rd Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition – Online recordings available

4-6 April vLanguages VWBPE Virtual Worlds – Best practise in education

vLanguages @VWBPE Virtual Worlds Best Practise in Education

vLanguages is the new name of long running SLanguages, a web conference in virtual worlds (Second Life, OpenSim, Minecraft). vLanguages joins the highly academic VWBPE conference in Second Life.

Download and read the proceedings,


Tue Apr 9 2000 EST – Grand Opening of VSTE Place Minecraft server

Grand Opening VSTE Place Minecraft server Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at 8 PM Eastern!

The server has been updated and a brand new world spawned. Tuesday at 8 PM we will venture in, explore, and start building a new world. Don’t miss it! Many thankds to DarkJMKnight for his expertise and time to make this happen!


We use Discord for voice.

Join Discord and go to this voice channel.


The VSTE Place IP address is

As a reminder, this server is for educators. If you are using your child’s account to participate please do not encourage your child to use our server.

This Google doc has more info about the server:

3 thoughts on “Vance Stevens on thinking SMALL at the 2019 PELLTA conference in Penang Malaysia

  1. Pingback: Hanaa Khamis interviews Deborah Healey about Ordinary Teachers as Researchers for NileTESOL LTSIG | Learning2gether

  2. Pingback: Steven Herder interviews Vance Stevens in the iTDi Teachers Room | Learning2gether

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