Title: Automatic Adaptation of Dynamic second language reading texts
Author: Michael Walmsley
The tool can be accessed here.
Let me tell you, I am not reviewing the paper here. There are two reasons I started posting this.
1. I liked the FlaxReader tool, and began believing since yesterday that it will help in my German lessons.
2. Some of the statements and conclusions in this paper – attracted, amused, surprised (not all these emotions are for one statement!) me. So, thought I’d post them here.
Firstly, this paper begins with the idea that “Extensive Reading” (ER) is an effective Language Acquisition strategy. So, in this paper, there is a discussion on providing reading material, automatically adapting it to computer adapted ER. The “This research aims to make improvements in how people can learn languages” part attracted me the most, though I read this paper for professional reasons, and not as a beginner German learner.
As they say in Telugu – Swami Kaaryam, Swakaaryam…. 😛
So, what are those statements that caught my attention?
* “Nation states that students need to read close to 500,000 words per year, which is equivalent to one and a half substantial first year text books or six novels.”
(Nation here is… Nation I.S.P, 2009, Teaching ESL/EFL reading and writing.)
– I did not go to that to see how they made those conclusions (Yet!)…but, it was interesting to note that. I wonder if my vocab, especially in Telugu..shows any improvement, despite the fact that I read many Telugu books, during an year! 😛
* “Dictionaries should only be used for frequently occurring unknown words that prevent overall understanding. Literature suggests that comprehension is difficult when more than 5% of the words in a text are unfamiliar to a learner.”
(Again from Nation)
-Well, I am wondering at how the stats were arrived at. Nevertheless, its also an interesting fact to know.
There was this statement, which is so true…but at the same time, its structure made me ROFL:
“Elaboration is a text simplification technique”
“Vocabulary researchers have proposed that English learners must minimally know the most frequent 3000 to 5000 word families in order to effectively read authentic English text.”
(The  is Cobb T, 2007, Computing the vocabulary demands of L2 reading)
“Learners can acquire new L2 words and strengthen existing vocabulary knowledge, by reading L1 texts with some words replaced by L2 equivalents” (L2 here is the language you are learning and L1 is the one you are good at).
-This particular statement summarizes what the flax reader tool does. I don’t know how the learnability is evaluated…but I guess this will be a good exercise for learners (like me!)
The rest of the paper discusses on what L1 words should be replaced by L2 equivalents, in a chosen text, how? what aids can be used? etc.
And then, there are others in the references, that attracted me. May be I will read some of them sometime soon….