Researchers update French language learning

Dec 15, 2005

Mastering verbal conjugations in French or being able to ask directions to the library is one thing, but expressing yourself on paper in that language brings a new, daunting set of challenges. An online tool developed at the University of Alberta will make that task much easier.

"Le Patron" (www.lepatron.ca) is a website developed by Dr. Terry Nadasdi and Dr. Stefan Sinclair that helps second-language learners write in French. Available to anyone with an Internet connection, the technology scans your written submission for common errors and provides advice for improving the text. For example, if you enter "...une petit maison," Le Patron will highlight the phrase and tell you that the adjective in front of maison should be feminine (petite).

Not only does it save language teachers from having to repeatedly correct and comment on errors, says Nadasdi, it teaches students to recognize their own mistakes and understand them. The technology has come a long way from the days of sitting in a language lab, answering repetitive questions without any feedback.

"The goal of the website is not simply to provide a quick checking mechanism, but to ensure that students learn from interacting with the site," said Nadasdi, a sociolinguist in the Faculty of Arts. "The project is exciting for me since in this way I can actually help millions of people learn, which is far beyond what I can do with classroom teaching alone."

The idea was first created as a tool for U of A students studying French and since then, it has grown into a global project. Since its launch in September, thousands of people around the globe have already accessed the site--it had hits from 75 countries in November 2005 and is averaging about 7000 per day--and Nadasdi is aware of its use in several public school divisions across the country. He has heard from university professors in Iowa and high school teachers in California who are guiding their students to the site.

He has presented the site to educators across Alberta and at a recent session, one teacher told Nadasdi the site changed the way she teaches French. He has also heard from a number of francophones using the site in France.

Nadasdi is looking at using the technology to help second-language learners in other languages such as Spanish.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Best of Last Week—Increasing antihydrogen production, converting waste heat to electricity and video game brain impact

Related Stories

Bugs and slugs ideal houseguests for seagrass health

39 minutes ago

Marine "bugs and slugs" make ideal houseguests for valuable seagrass ecosystems. They gobble up algae that could smother the seagrass, keeping the habitat clean and healthy. That's according to results from ...

Using a sounding rocket to help calibrate NASA's SDO

50 minutes ago

Watching the sun is dangerous work for a telescope. Solar instruments in space naturally degrade over time, bombarded by a constant stream of solar particles that can cause a film of material to adhere to ...

Drought-induced tree mortality accelerating in forests

37 minutes ago

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found that drought and heat-induced tree mortality is accelerating in many forest biomes as a consequence of a warming climate in their paper "Darcy's law ...

Recommended for you

Probing Question: Is art an essential school subject?

19 hours ago

For decades, "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" were considered the most fundamental subjects in American K-12 schools. These days, in order to boost our nation's global competitiveness, many schools and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.