Arab World English Journal
AWEJ Vol.2 No.3 August 2011                                                                                                           pp. 4-27

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An Emergentist Approach to the Evolving Roles of the Teacher in Distance Learning

Professor Jean-Claude Bertin
University of Le Havre, France

Distance generates added complexity in language learning due to its various dimensions (geographical, temporal, social, and psychological). This paper considers this complexity from a model-driven emergentist perspective (i.e. a perspective drawn from Dynamic Systems theories focusing on the changes within the systems). After introducing the didactic ergonomics model, the author shows how several subsystems are involved, each pointing to emerging specific roles. He then shows which competences are related to these roles before suggesting a long-term and general approach to teacher and tutor education for CALL and distance language learning.

Keywords: Teacher/tutor, teacher training, teacher education, roles, competences, didactic ergonomics, emergentism.


Jean-Claude Bertin is a full professor of English language learning and teaching at the
University of Le Havre, France. He is a membre of the CNRS (National Center for
Scientific Research) unit IDEES-CIRTAI, where he coordinates research in the field of
CALL and Distance Learning. He has published a large number of articles and reports in
this field, in national as well as international journals, (co-)authored several books,
among which :
– Bertin, J.-C. (2001), Des Outils pour des Langues – multimedia et apprentissage;
– Bertin, J.-C., Gravé, P. & Narcy-Combes, J.-P. (2010). Second-language distance
learning and teaching: theoretical perspectives and didactic ergonomics, IGI, USA.
He also contributed to ICT and Language Learning – a European Perspective
(Chambers, A. & Davies, G. Eds, 2001). He has presented numerous papers and keynote
speeches in a variety of international conferences. He is now President of the French
research association GERAS (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Anglais de Spécialité),
Director of Asp journal (Geras, France), and has been reviewer for several scientific
journals, among which Computer-Assisted Language Learning (Taylor & Francis),
Revue canadienne de linguistique appliquée (Ottawa, Canada), and ReCALL (Cambridge
University Press).
– Online references :