A System for English Vocabulary Acquisition based on Code-Switching

A System for English Vocabulary Acquisition based on Code-Switching

Michal Mazur (Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan), Krzysztof Karolczak (Lodz University of Technology, Lodz, Poland), Rafal Rzepka (Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan) and Kenji Araki (Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJDET.2016070104
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Vocabulary plays an important part in second language learning and there are many existing techniques to facilitate word acquisition. One of these methods is code-switching, or mixing the vocabulary of two languages in one sentence. In this paper the authors propose an experimental system for computer-assisted English vocabulary learning in context using a code-switching based approach for Japanese learners. First they introduce the CO-MIX system, an English vocabulary teaching system that uses code-switching for vocabulary acquisition. Next, they show how they utilize incidental learning techniques with graded readers to increase language proficiency. The authors present the system architecture, underlying technologies, and evaluate the system's performance through user interaction with both a baseline and the proposed system by using a semantic differential scale. They also perform separate factor analysis of participants' attitudes for both systems, an analysis of users' mistakes and compare users' language tests scores. Finally, the authors discuss the evaluation results and further development of this technology.
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In the modern world, English has become a global language spoken in over sixty countries. English language proficiency is essential for cross-cultural communication and the necessity to know the language is constantly growing. This necessity leads to the problem of finding qualified teachers that can give students a chance to practice their language skills. Vocabulary is the most essential part of second language (L2) learning (Ling, 2010), and recently has become a topic of discussion for researchers, school curriculum designers (Jun Zhang & Annual, 2008; Nation, 2001) and others involved in L2 learning.

The problem of vocabulary acquisition is one of the most significant barriers to mastering foreign languages. In a spoken language, about 1,800 words constitute about 80% of the spoken corpus (McCarthy, 2004). Because some frequent words are often repeated, it is thought that learners can understand a large proportion of foreign language conversation with a relatively small vocabulary (McCarten, 2007). The importance of vocabulary is explained by Wilkins, who states: “without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed” (Wilkins, 1972). However, previous research also suggests that although second language learners need to know a large number of words as a long-term goal, this is not an essential short-term goal (Nation, 2001).

A variety of approaches to vocabulary learning have been presented, but none have been proved to be the most effective way of studying language units. The way that new words are presented to students usually depends on teachers’ individual beliefs and teaching strategies. New possibilities for vocabulary acquisition can be found in the code-switching phenomenon, in which a word from one language is used in a sentence in which the grammatical structure belongs to another language. Code-switching presents a chance for students to think about new foreign language words in a deeper manner and offers the potential for expansion of the second language vocabulary. Recently this technique has become a target of interest for researchers in different domains, such as psychologists (Macaro, 2001), linguists (Coady & Huckin, 1997) and computer scientists (Labutov & Lipson, 2014).

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