This paper considers key questions concerning computer-based language-learning environments.
Using evidence from current literature, it discusses the main characteristics of such environments including
human, technical and physical resources, communicative structures, information management, and cultural contexts.
It then uses data from an investigation of the universities of Cambridge, Toronto and Ulster to assess the
pedagogical effectiveness of the computer-based environments currently in operation in these three
It considers, in particular, the integrative role that computer-based language learning environments
seem to provide. Although each institution has integrated computer technology into language teaching and learning
in different ways, a key element of each environment has been the establishment of a common computer-mediated
infrastructure, enabling effective information dissemination, resource distribution, communication and
teaching and learning. No single common infrastructure would be suitable in all three, however, in each case,
it was found that the environments created were valuable, especially in integrating elements of the teaching
and learning process that would normally have remained apart.
In concluding that the creation of a computer-based
language learning environment in the present climate is beneficial, it was noted that adequate technical
resources and a management that is keen to integrate computer technology into all aspects of university life
is a key factor in their success.