Sunday, December 18, 2005

Computer-Aided Language Learning Tools

Next, I'll write a series of articles about the topic mentioned above. The topic is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, I wrote my own bare-bones flashcard program a few years ago (none of the free existing ones I reviewed had the features I wanted. Not that my own program has them either.) Secondly, the Chinese course web page has some links to various web application. That may not be much, but it is more than anything I've seen on other language courses.

The outline of the articles is:

1. Dictionaries: These are the only tools, which are currently part of the standard infrastructure. However, even in dictionaries there is much unleashed potential. I'll describe some high-end features which are currently not implemented or implemented only in few dictionaries. I'll also talk about the Wiktionary.

2. Behaviorism: This article will tell about the learning theories of the 60s behaviorism, which is the ideological backbone of flashcard programs.

3. Flashcard Programs: This will describe some features of a good flashcard program, and review some existing programs.

4. Annotators: Annotators take a foreign-language text as an input, and annotate it with yellow notes, links, etc. The extra information tells the meaning of the word in the known language.

5. Testing: First, I'll describe some language tests I've taken this autumn, and argument that most of them could be implemented by a computer. Secondly, I'll describe a new way of testing, which is possible on a computer but impossible on paper.

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