ICALL: Intelligence Call Special Interest Group

Have you ever wondered what Intelligent CALL might be? Then this workshop is for you. Our half-day workshop is aimed at a non-specialist audience and includes presentations on the functioning of basic NLP (Natural Language Processing) tools, the challenges of learner language for NLP, demos of applications, and discussions of the use of NLP tools in a CALL context. The main purpose of the workshop is to introduce you to the range of tools used in Intelligent CALL, i.e. CALL that uses NLP techniques, and to raise awareness of the potential of Intelligent CALL.

We will begin with a gentle introduction and conclude with a discussion of the potential for Intelligent CALL in the CALL classroom and beyond. The three individual presentations cover:

We aim to offer you a friendly, interactive workshop giving you a taste of what may be in store in the field of CALL.

Cornelia Tschichold

Presentations abstracts:

  • Maria Chinkina: Question Generation to Support the Acquisition of Phrasal Verbs: Evaluating via Crowdsourcing

Language teachers habitually ask questions to test comprehension. We propose to integrate the insights from Second Language Acquisition research to generate comprehension questions that check understanding of particular linguistic forms and thus, help learners create form-meaning connections. In line with research on Focus-on-Form, we assume that different kinds of questions are needed to facilitate the acquisition of different linguistic forms. Phrasal verbs are the first linguistic form of our choice as they represent a considerable teaching and learning load. We generate wh-questions and sentences with a gap. We evaluate the system against human-written questions via crowdsourcing and discuss the outcomes. The results show that (i) automatically generated questions are comparable to human-written questions, (ii) the addition of a gap sentence improves a question rating, and (iii) the answers elicited by open-end questions contain fewer phrasal verbs than the answers elicited by questions followed by a gap sentence.

 Carola Strobl: Automated corrective feedback on cohesion in advanced students´ writing

Even at advanced levels L2 learners struggle with cohesion. For English L2, pedagogical support can build upon recent Automated Writing Evaluation tools for the analysis of textual cohesion. For German such a tool is not yet available.  I try to explore the potential of a tool using simple pattern matching technology for the provision of corrective feedback on cohesion problems. I first extracted frequent cohesion problems from summaries, then fed strings that represent a potential error source into the automated feedback system, together with three types of feedback messages. The participants in the study received automated feedback on three written summaries. In the first occasion, direct feedback was provided to the whole cohort, followed by indirect feedback in the two subsequent occasions. The results indicate that this technology can be helpful to remedy over- and underuse of connectives. However, other cohesion problems require the analysis of a larger text span, integrating co-reference resolution and lexical overlap. 

  • Monica Ward: ICALL-lite resources for non-ICALLers

Many in the CALL field are unaware of what ICALL tools and resources are available and may be slightly intimidated by the apparent mystic behind the ICALL curtain.  However, the ICALL curtain ranges from complete blackout to barely-there, almost transparent net curtain.  While the blackout variety may be only penetrable by those with deep knowledge of advanced techniques, there are ICALL-lite resources that can be used by CALL practitioners with basic linguistic knowledge of the target language. I aim to provide non-ICALLers with the confidence to try and experiment with ICALL tools and to demystify the process.  I want to encourage you to interact with software engineers and programmers who may be able to help you develop interesting and interactive resources for your learners.  What is difficult for programmers can be easy for CALL specialists and vice-versa.

Posted in Eurocall2017, SIGs.