A Computer-Based Reading Tutor for Young Language Learners

A Computer-Based Reading Tutor for Young Language Learners

Kenneth Reeder (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Jon Shapiro (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Margaret Early (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Maureen Kendrick (The University of British Columbia, Canada) and Jane Wakefield (The University of British Columbia, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-895-6.ch010
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This chapter describes the first year of research on the effectiveness of automated speech recognition (ASR) for ESL learners in the early school years. The aim was to learn how such technology can enhance literacy learning as an element of L2 development, using prototype research software entitled the Reading Tutor (RT). In addition to assessing learners’ gains in reading scores, the attitudinal dimension of speech recognition technology was investigated in an effort to explain the effectiveness of the software. We found that both heritage language (L1) and level of English proficiency were linked to students’ reading gains with the RT. Further, the RT was shown to be equally effective to a more time-intensive volunteer tutoring program. A positive affective impact of the RT was demonstrated in the interview data but not in two widely used attitudinal scales. An Appendix describes the technical implementation of the project.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Automated Speech Recognition (ASR): A branch of natural language processing in computer science, ASR uses speech processing software to recognize words and in some applications, speech sounds in a speaker’s spoken input. The Reading Tutor’ ASR function is based upon Carnegie Mellon University’s open-source Sphinx-II speech analyzer, which uses the well-known probabilistic “Hidden Markov Model” approach to interpreting spoken input.

Language Proficiency: A measure of level of mastery of a target language by learners. Mastery is often defined in terms of a fairly complex set of skills entailed in communicative competence, and hence can involve more than accuracy of pronunciation, vocabulary or grammar.

Reading Comprehension: A reader’s retrieval of an author’s meaning intentions from a written text. The tests used to assess reading comprehension in the present studies (WRMT-R) evaluate a reader’s understanding of meanings of individual words (“word comprehension”) and of longer passages of text (“passage comprehension.”)

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA): ANOVA is one of the more powerful statistical methods of testing differences amongst two or more groups’ mean scores against chance. Its power derives mainly from the fact that it takes into account each case’s contribution to a group’s mean score. An ANCOVA has the added possibility of including a correction across differing groups for a potentially-confounding variable, thereby controlling that variable’s impact upon a group difference of interest to the researcher.

Scaffolding of Learning, Emotional Scaffolding: First used by the cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, scaffolding of learning refers to the ways in which adults hold aspects of an environment constant, allowing a learner to focus on the element of learning which is being acquired. Such scaffolding can be gradually withdrawn, allowing a learner to operate independently. A frequently-used example is the way in which some story books for children will follow a fixed syntactic pattern from page to page and introduce only one word or phrase on each succeeding page. The term “emotional scaffolding” is used in Project Listen’s Reading Tutor research in a more general sense to refer to the user interface’s provision of emotional support such as praise and encouragement to users during interactions with the program.

Heritage Language: The language that was principally used by an immigrant community prior to their migration to a new linguistic community. Heritage languages are often maintained by vital immigrant communities, and can be promoted by enlightened language policies as a way of enhancing the multilingual nature and cultural diversity of a community.

Affective Dimension, Affective Domain: Part of the most widely cited taxonomy of educational objectives, the affective domain differs from the cognitive domain in learning in that it emphasises feelings and attitudes toward learning and toward the content of learning.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Andrew Lian
Felicia Zhang, Beth Barber
Chapter 1
Gabriella Brussino, Cathy Gunn
A theoretically driven and technology enhanced approach to second language acquisition at beginners level is illustrated through the description of... Sample PDF
Australasian Language Learners and Italian Web Sites: A Profitable Learning Partnership?
Chapter 2
Michael Fitze
This chapter reports on a comparative study of face-to-face (FTF) and written electronic (WE) conferences as pre-writing activities in the English... Sample PDF
Assessing the Benefit of Prewriting Conferences on Drafts
Chapter 3
Joel Bloch, Cathryn Crosby
This chapter discusses the use of blogging in a beginning level academic writing course. Blogging was used in this writing course both as a means of... Sample PDF
Blogging and Academic Writing Development
Chapter 4
Robert Ariew, Gulcan Erçetin, Susan Cooledge
This chapter introduces second language reading in hypertext/hypermedia environments. It discusses the development of a template to annotate reading... Sample PDF
Second Language Reading in Hypertext Environments
Chapter 5
Leo Kam-hung Yu
The consciousness-raising approach to grammar teaching aims to provide opportunities for students to identify some grammatical components through... Sample PDF
Application of Online Questionnaires in Grammar Teaching
Chapter 6
Diane Huot, France H. Lemonnier, Josiane Hamers
This chapter presents the key findings of a longitudinal study conducted with secondary school students over a period of five years to determine... Sample PDF
ICT and Language Learning at Secondary School
Chapter 7
David Barr
This chapter reports on the results of a study undertaken to gauge what difference computer technology makes to grammar learning. Unlike other... Sample PDF
Computer-Enhanced Grammar Teaching
Chapter 8
Luba V. Iskold
This study examines the effects of listening tasks performed by second-semester learners of Russian. Two video viewing conditions are investigated... Sample PDF
Research-Based Listening Tasks for Video Comprehension
Chapter 9
Linda Jones
This study addresses the views of 9 students on the amount of invested mental effort (Salomon, 1983a) needed to effectively process multimedia... Sample PDF
Invested Mental Effort in an Aural Multimedia Environment
Chapter 10
Kenneth Reeder, Jon Shapiro, Margaret Early, Maureen Kendrick, Jane Wakefield
This chapter describes the first year of research on the effectiveness of automated speech recognition (ASR) for ESL learners in the early school... Sample PDF
A Computer-Based Reading Tutor for Young Language Learners
Chapter 11
Eva Lindgren, Marie Stevenson, Kirk P.H. Sullivan
In this chapter an instructional format, Peer-Based Intervention (PBI) using computer keystroke logging is investigated as a computer technology to... Sample PDF
Supporting the Reflective Language Learner with Computer Keystroke Logging
Chapter 12
Jörg Roche, Julia Scheller
The present study is situated in the context of cognitive aspects of language processing as it focuses on the learning and teaching of grammar in... Sample PDF
Grammar Animations and Cognition
Chapter 13
Hazel Morton, Nancie Davidson, Mervyn Jack
This chapter describes the design of a speech interactive CALL program and its evaluation with end users. The program, SPELL (Spoken Electronic... Sample PDF
Evaluation of a Speech Interactive CALL System
Chapter 14
Maliwan Buranapatana, Felicia Zhang
This chapter reports on a study which evaluates the effect of a language teaching approach called the Somatically-Enhanced Approach (Zhang, 2006)in... Sample PDF
Pedagogy Meets Technology in the Somatically-Enhanced Approach
Chapter 15
Xinchun Wang
This study explores the effect of two training paradigms for learning Mandarin tones in pedagogical contexts. Eighteen beginning learners of Chinese... Sample PDF
Training for Learning Mandarin Tones
Chapter 16
Nattaya Puakpong
This chapter examines the effect of an individualized Computer-Enhanced Language Learning Listening Comprehension Program (MMExplore) on students’... Sample PDF
An Evaluation of a Listening Comprehension Program
Chapter 17
Terence C. Ahern
Authentic experiences encourage the student to cognitively engage the content by actively trying to make sense and to integrate the experience. This... Sample PDF
CMC for Language Acquisition
Chapter 18
Shannon Johnston
A task-based approach to e-mail provides a sound pedagogical orientation for real language interactions between learners and native speakers. The... Sample PDF
A Task-Based Design for Integrating E-Mail with FL Pedagogy
Chapter 19
Margarita Vinagre, Maria Lera
In this chapter we analyze the role that error correction plays in fostering language development via e-mail tandem exchanges. In order to do so, we... Sample PDF
The Role of Error Correction in Online Exchanges
Chapter 20
Stella K. Hadjistassou
This study reports on a culturally-transforming group activity using asynchronously-mediated forums on the “discussion board” of Blackboard Academic... Sample PDF
Emerging Feedback in Two Asynchronous ESL Writing Forums
Chapter 21
Martina Möllering, Markus Ritter
One key theme in the area of computer-assisted language learning has been the potential of computermediated communication (CMC) for the language... Sample PDF
CMC and Intercultural Learning
Chapter 22
Claudia Finkbeiner, Markus Knierim
Research on CALL environments that explicitly focuses on the development of strategic competence is almost non-existent. This chapter reports on an... Sample PDF
Developing L2 Strategic Competence Online
Chapter 23
Faridah Pawan, Senom T. Yalcin, Xiaojing Kou
This research is an exploratory study of student variables that mediate collaborative engagement in online discussions. More directly, the research... Sample PDF
Interventions and Student Factors in Collaboration
Chapter 24
Rolf Kreyer
Although corpus linguistic methods and research have had a considerable impact on language teaching in the last few decades, the corpus is still... Sample PDF
Corpora in the Classroom and Beyond
Chapter 25
Angela Chambers, Martin Wynne
Since the early 1990s, researchers have been investigating the effectiveness of corpora as a resource in language learning, mostly creating their... Sample PDF
Sharing Corpus Resources in Language Learning
Chapter 26
Terence Patrick Murphy
This chapter addresses the question of how to measure the student’s English as a second language (ESL) textual sophistication. It suggests that the... Sample PDF
The Texture of Inefficiently Self-Regulating ESL Systems
Chapter 27
Hayo Reinders, Noemí Lázaro
This chapter discusses the results of a study into the use of technology in the specific pedagogical setting of self-access centers. As part of the... Sample PDF
Technology in Support of Self-Access Pedagogy
Chapter 28
Stephen Alan Shucart, Tsutomu Mishina, Mamoru Takahashi, Tetsuya Enokizono
Unlike most CALL labs that are purchased from a vender and employ either generic or commercial CALL software and technologically untrained teachers... Sample PDF
The CALL Lab as a Facilitator for Autonomous Learning
Chapter 29
Junichi Azuma
This chapter describes how the synthesized English speech sound generated by a commercial TTS engine (Pentax “VoiceText”) is utilized within a CALL... Sample PDF
Applying TTS Technology to Foreign Language Teaching
Chapter 30
Yuko Kinoshita
This chapter presents a descriptive report on a video chat project undertaken in early 2006 at the University of Canberra, Australia using iChat.... Sample PDF
Using an Audio-Video Chat Program in Language Learning
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