Monthly Archives: May 2009

From recording linguistic competence to supporting inferences about language acquisition in context

Student models for Intelligent Computer Assisted Language Learning (ICALL) have largely focused on the acquisition of grammatical structures. In this paper, we motivate a broader perspective of student models for ICALL that incorporates insights from current research on second language acquisition and language testing. We argue for a student model that includes a representation of the learner’s ability to use language in context and to perform tasks, as well as for an explicit activity model that provides information on the language tasks and the inferences for the student model they support. The student model architecture we present is being developed as part of the TAGARELA system, an intelligent workbook supporting the instruction of Portuguese.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Implementing E-Learning components with adult English language learners: Vital factors and lessons learned

The growing use of both computers and the Internet in adult English language classrooms has widespread implications for English language programs. As computer access increases, so do new learning technologies in adult literacy education. Specifically, this paper is interested in the case of adult English language instruction, also commonly referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and blending e-learning components as tools for supporting English acquisition. Increasingly in adult English language classrooms, e-learning is being employed as an instructional strategy. Given the multitude of options, how do instructors and program directors of English Language Learners (ELLs) begin to choose an approach that is right for their programs and learners? Through the analysis of survey and focus group data, this study explored how programs across the United States are successfully implementing e-learning components in their adult English language classrooms.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Learners’ and teachers’ perspectives on language online

This article examines the student and instructor satisfaction with the Language Online courses at Carnegie Mellon University from 2000-2002. These courses were designed with a hybrid format, including reduced face-to-face contact and online delivery of course materials. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from students and instructors using surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Quantitative data from students indicates a trend of increasing satisfaction with the online courses compared with offline (traditional) courses. Qualitative data were analyzed using QSR NVivo software. Student themes centered on reactions to the reduced schedule of classes and the technology used in course delivery. For instructors, recurring themes included the need for training, control of course materials, and connections with students. The results provide valuable insight for a course format increasingly utilized in university-level language learning.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Preparing language teachers to teach language online: a look at skills, roles, and responsibilities

This paper reviews and critiques an existing skills framework for online language teaching. This critique is followed by an alternative framework for online language teaching skills. This paper also uses a systems view to look at the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in an online learning system. Four major recommendations are provided to help language teacher training programs prepare future language teachers for online language teaching.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Spoken interaction in online and face-to-face language tutorials

While interaction in online language learning in the area of written computer-mediated communication is well researched, studies focusing on interaction in synchronous online audio environments remain scarce. For this reason, this paper seeks to map the nature and level of interpersonal interaction in both online and the face-to-face language tutorials used at the Open University, UK. A coding system for mapping interaction against the tenets of SLA is proposed and applied to sample tutorials. Initial analyses of data reveal differences with regards to the level of student participation, the use of the target language (L2) and the degree of tutor control and focus.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

The case for dynamic exercise systems in language learning

Most existing web-based language learning exercises may be termed ‘static’ in that their content is fixed; the sentences exist in the form in which the developer wrote them, and the scope of the exercise and the variety of interactions can only be expanded by manually adding to the existing stock. One solution to this problem is an application which generates its content in response to user specifications. We believe that a dynamic application is suitable for situations where long-term, large scale development of CALL materials is foreseen, as the flexibility and usability of the product far exceed what is available with conventional web-based exercises. In this paper, we will outline the reasons language instructors might consider a dynamic or semi-dynamic system as a sound technological investment of time and money, discuss the advantages of designing a dynamic system, and illustrate some of the pitfalls to avoid in beginning that process.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

The effectiveness of computer assisted pronunciation training for foreign language learning by children

This study investigates whether a computer assisted pronunciation training (CAPT) system can help young learners improve word-level pronunciation skills in English as a foreign language at a level comparable to that achieved through traditional teacher-led training. The pronunciation improvement of a group of learners of 11 years of age receiving teacher-fronted instruction was compared to that of a group receiving computer assisted pronunciation training by means of a system including an automatic speech recognition component. Results show that 1) pronunciation quality of isolated words improved significantly for both groups of subjects, and 2) both groups significantly improved in pronunciation quality of words that were considered particularly difficult to pronounce and that were likely to have been unknown to them prior to the training. Training with a computer-assisted pronunciation training system with a simple automatic speech recognition component can thus lead to short-term improvements in pronunciation that are comparable to those achieved by means of more traditional, teacher-led pronunciation training.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

The other C in CMC: What alternative data sources can tell us about text-based synchronous computer mediated communication and language learning

Most research on text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) in language learning has used output logs as the sole data source. I review interactionist and sociocultural SCMC research, focusing in particular on the question of technological determinism, and conclude that, from whichever perspective, reliance on output logs leads to an impoverished picture of the experience of SCMC users and of phenomena relevant to learning. The assumption that output logs are an adequate data source fails to give due weight to the specificities of this form of communication, in particular the constraints and affordances of the computer interface. I examine the potential contribution of other data sources, providing by way of illustration an analysis of sample eye-tracker data from a tandem SCMC session.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

The Sentence Fairy: a natural-language generation system to support children’s essay writing

We built an NLP system implementing a ‘virtual writing conference’ for elementary-school children, with German as the target language. Currently, state-of-the-art computer support for writing tasks is restricted to multiple-choice questions or quizzes because automatic parsing of the often ambiguous and fragmentary texts produced by pupils presents insurmountable problems. Here, we follow a different course by deploying natural language generation technology to evaluate and improve the grammatical quality of student output. Based on an abstract representation of the story under construction, all paraphrases of simple and combined clauses are generated fully automatically. From this source, the system produces exercises enabling the pupils to improve their sentences. We apply parsing technology only in the teacher mode, where new stories are entered into the system in a simple manner. The system we describe here is a prototype including a full exercise generation mode and a rudimentary teacher mode.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Top of the Pods—In Search of a Podcasting “Podagogy” for Language Learning

The popularization of portable media players such as the iPod, and the delivery of audio and video content through content management software such as iTunes mean that there is a wealth of language learning resources freely available to users who may download them and use them anywhere at any time. These resources vary greatly in quality and follow different approaches to learning. This paper provides a taxonomy of podcast resources, reviews materials in the light of Second Language Acquisition theories, argues for better design, and outlines directions for future research.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Using audioblogs to assist English-language learning: an investigation into student perception

This pilot study investigates how the use of audioblogs can help to meet an instructor’s need to improve instruction in English as a second language (ESL). In this study, the instructor uses audioblogs to manage oral assignments, to interact with learners, and to evaluate performance outcomes. Learners record oral assignments through cellular phones, and maintain an individual audioblog in which they submit and archive the oral assignments. The instructor interacts with each learner through the individual audioblog to enhance his or her learning according to individual needs. Using mixed methodology (survey, open-ended questions, interview, and analysis of blogs), this study explores how the instructor’s interaction with learners through audioblogs improves learners’ oral English performance. The results indicate that the use of audioblogs meets the instructor’s instructional needs, providing an efficient and effective way to evaluate students’ oral performance and permitting individualized oral feedback. In addition, learners enjoy the ease of using audioblogs and believe that audioblogs assist their language-learning experience. This study also discusses the challenges that users of audioblogs face in the process of English-language instruction, and the implications of audioblog in language learning.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

Subjective tinnitus and hearing problems in adolescents

Tinnitus may be seen in adolescents at primary and high schools. Listening loud and noisy music and Walkman usage may cause an increase in the frequency of tinnitus manifestation. Adolescents should be educated about the hazardous effects of loud music. Education should include families, teachers, students, and whole community. These issues should be taken into public health policy of the countries.

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

Oral vs. pharyngeal dysphagia: surface electromyography study

Dysphagia following dental surgery or oral infections does not affect pharynx and submental muscles and has clear sEMG signs: increased duration of a single swallow, longer drinking time, low activity of the masseter, and normal range of submental activity. Patients with tonsillitis present hyperactivity of infrahyoid muscles. These data could be used for evaluation of symptoms when differential dental/ENT diagnosis is needed.

from BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders

The input processing, cognitive linguistic and oro-motor skills of children with speech difficulty

Children with speech difficulty of no known etiology are a heterogeneous group. While speech errors are often attributed to auditory processing or oro-motor skill, an alternative proposal is a cognitive-linguistic processing difficulty. Research studies most often focus on only one of these aspects of the speech processing chain. This study investigated abilities in all three domains in children with speech difficulty (n = 78) and matched controls (n = 87). It was hypothesized that groups of children with speech difficulty would perform less well than controls on all tasks, but that the proportion of children with speech difficulty performing within the normal range would differ across tasks. The input processing task required children to perceive the auditory-visual illusion in speech perception, where listeners perceive when they hear presented in synchrony with the lip movements for . Diadochokinetic, isolated and sequenced movements tasks assessed oro-motor skills. Two non-verbal tasks evaluated rule derivation. The results indicated that rule derivation best discriminated typically developing and speech difficulty groups. Few children were identified as having an input or output difficulty, whereas difficulties with rule-derivation were common. The data support the notion that speech difficulty is, most often, associated with a central processing difficulty.

from the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

Interaction of sound and sight during action perception: Evidence for shared modality-dependent action representations

These findings speak in favour of ‘shared’ action representations in the human motor system that are evoked in a ‘modality-dependent’ way, i.e., they are elicited most robustly by the simultaneous presentation of congruent auditory and visual stimuli. Multimodality in the perception of hand movements bears functional similarities to speech perception, suggesting that multimodal convergence is a generic feature of the mirror system which applies to action perception in general.

from Neuropsychologia