Some time ago, I started to develop tools to help with teaching conversational English. The main problem addressed was how can teachers discuss a multitude of topics with students and generate tests and vocabulary lists on the go. After some deliberation, the idea of creating “real-time tools” for use in the classroom came to mind.
The first application developed was for creating open cloze tests from Wikipedia articles (Wiki Tests). Initially, this application was released as an android app and later an online service. An overview of the Wiki Tests app can be found here. The next application developed was for analysing the Sentiment of tweets. This application is available online and described here. Recently, another online app was released for learning Kanji, which is also available for android on the Google Play Store. This app is intended for teaching English and is really a visual way of learning vocabulary.
More recently, the Wordplay online app was added in 2015 followed by Access To Insight (ATI) and Project Gutenberg Tests. Since that time, a Word Browser and Thesaurus were added, along with an online application for exploring the lexical and semantic relationships between words.
The applications described here are a direct result of applying techniques from Computational Linguistics to the development of real-time tools for exploring the English language.
Embedded Platforms - Parallella & SBCs
The applications developed so far have also been ported to an SBC cluster to take advantage of low-cost parallel processing options. Applications incorporating techniques from computational linguistics, especially vector semantics, can be very computationally intensive. An SBC cluster provides a scalable platform for developing applications that can be used locally and still have cutting-edge performance.
Many of the real-time tools developed so far are available as online applications and assessable from Langtech's site, as shown below:
Project Gutenberg Tests
Project Gutenberg offers over 58,000 free e-books. This application helps you search these e-books and create English language texts from them. The application can be accessed here.
Wikipedia Tests and Android App
The Wikipedia Tests for Android and online app allows you to create tests from Wikipedia articles as an aid to learning English Vocabulary and Grammar. Information about the app can be found in the Google Play Store, and help file. The online version is hosted by Pythonanywhere. The application can be accessed here.
The Sentiment online app, allows you to view tweets containing the search phrase you enter in the text box after pressing submit. The displayed tweets are classified according to their sentiment and displayed as being either Positive, Negative, or Neutral. Duplicates have been removed along with possible spam.
On pressing “go” the button, the Wordplay online app will generate the following:
10 random words with their definitions (WN)
10 random words without their definitions (WL)
A crossword built using the WordNet semantic lexicon (CW)
A list of words where you have to pick the right definition (MC)
5 groups of 5 sentences where the same word has been removed from each sentence within a group (GF)
Doublets – a game invented by Lewis Carroll (DL)
The uppercase letters enclosed in brackets refer to the tab names.
The “Word Browser” application, allows you to browse the lexical and semantic relations stored in the WordNet database.
With the WordNet connect application, you can discover the lexical and semantic relationships between any pair of words.
This application implements a version of Roget's thesaurus taken from project Gutenberg. Roget's thesaurus is essentially a reverse dictionary that allows you to find words related to the meaning you have in mind. When you look up a word by clicking on a number, it will take a few seconds for the browser to scroll to the correct entry on the main thesaurus page. So please be patient. The image below shows the entry displayed after clicking on “66”.
Kanji Review and Android App
The android application and online app consist of 7 pages. A help page, a page which lists the Radicals along with their definitions and 5 review pages where you can interact with the main application for learning Kanji and the Radicals. The first review page is for leaning the Radicals. The other 4 review pages are based on different Kanji lists, which all overlap to some extent. The different lists are provided for reference and to make leaning a bit more interesting! You can plan your lessons by setting the range of Kanji displayed. For instance, 1-79 (LPT Level N5) or 613-979 (LPT Level N2).
You can put the app in review mode and test what you have learnt by viewing flash cards. Furthermore, when interacting with the review pages, the next Kanji can be displayed either manually or by starting the timer. The timer dropdown menu initially displays “timer idle”. You can start the timer by selecting one of the “start n” options. The numbers are in seconds! The timer can be halted by pressing the “stop” button. While the timer is running, you can alter the delay or turn “Review Mode” on/off.
On The Web – blog
This blog contains reading material and information about the English language. You can also find pointers to online resources for learning and teaching English and developing educational software.
The Nomadic Literate Life – blog
This blog describes why the applications and material described on this page were created.