Sessions / Poster presentation
The aim of this study is to investigate whether online forums, used as a tool for virtual exchange of communication between English learners in different institutions, areas and countries, are beneficial in increasing Japanese University students’ motivation to use English outside the classroom. Online forums or message boards have long been used as a means for people around the world to discuss various topics and interact with each other about subjects they share an interest in. These forums can create lively and varied discussions as users comment and post questions about other users` posts. A forum called the International Virtual Exchange (IVE) Project has been created so that students learning English in universities around the world can take part in a 8 week-long online English exchange program, discussing four topics by making posts connected to the topics and commenting and asking questions on other users` posts. The topics are related to sharing information and learning about culture and cultural differences. This paper will explore whether this activity increases motivation to communicate in the target language outside of the classroom, either instrumentally through the students striving to complete the immediate practical goals of making their posts and interacting with their peers or integratively through providing personal growth and cultural enrichment by learning about different cultures through the medium of English (Gardner & Lambert, 1972) or nurturing an identity connected to the second language.
Vocabulary learning is a nearly universal feature of language education curricula. A common assessment approach involves multiple-choice cloze items (MCC; aka 'ana-ume' in Japanese). However, with the advent of the Coronavirus situation and assessment methods moving to online platforms, MCC items present difficulties: Once used online, they should be considered "public" and cannot be re-used; producing items manually is laborious; and there are very few available end-to-end tools to produce items automatically (though see Word Quiz Constructor discussed in Rose 2020).
This poster is a progress report on a project that aims to build a system to generate items automatically for vocabulary training and testing. We will identify and summarize some of the key issues involved in this process and the approaches we are taking to resolve these issues. In particular, the poster will focus on the preparatory steps for using machine learning methods to generate items: the construction and validation of a "gold-standard" set of items.
At present, the project has created gold-standard items using both the General Service List (GSL: West, 1953) and the Academic Word List (AWL: Coxhead, 2000), consisting of a total of 2786 items. This standard is currently being tested in a pilot experiment together with an original vocabulary learning app, with some gamification. We plan to increase the gold standard list over time to at least 4,000 items and evaluate them as well as training and testing methods with a large scale population (>1000 students) in spring, 2022.
Issues that have arisen during the process thus far include estimating item difficulty (cf., Kurdi et al 2019), suitability for various audiences, and list coverage of items. These issues will be discussed along with our resolutions in the present project. This poster should be of interest to vocabulary specialists and programmers working on vocabulary-related educational applications.
In this session the presenters will discuss the design and implementation of a megagame as the core component of a 40-hour intensive summer seminar for non-English majors scheduled for September 2022.
Megagames are team-based strategy simulations with dozens of participants that typically play out over extended periods. Participants are divided into two groups: the control team, who run the game, and the players, who are sorted into teams and adopt roles within that team. The play period is divided into rounds in which the players engage in mini-games, strategizing, and negotiations with other teams. Common features of megagames are problem solving, incomplete-information decisions, negotiation, and debate.
For this year’s summer seminar the presenters are adapting the megagame Watch the Skies, a UN-style simulation in which the countries of the world face first contact with an intergalactic civilization of unknown intent. In each nation players adopt roles such as prime minister, head of the military, or chief scientist and represent their country in international meetings. Each country has an agenda that guides their decisions and serves as a metric for success.
The presentation will detail the core components of the seminar, the incorporation of game mechanics, and ongoing and final assessment of student performance. In addition, the manner in which we address concerns of language ability, role playing, and non-participation will be discussed.
"Where do I find the voices?" This question often stops teachers from creating their own extensive listening materials for language learning. Even if a teacher is not embarrassed at using their own voice, often it is necessary to have more than one voice for a listening task. Now, we can find those voices online. Recently, the number of free or partially free text to speech (TTS) recording sites has grown dramatically. These sites are getting better, easier to use and are often free or very inexpensive. In particular, the quality and variety of the voices has become much closer to being “authentic.” It is possible to record text from “speakers” with different ages, genders and regional accents. Varieties of English are the most common but many services offer other languages as well. Users can also control pauses, emphasis, speed and pitch. Some sites even allow recording of different voices in one text to speech dialogue. This presentation will evaluate several online TTS and suggest ways to integrate TTS in the foreign language curriculum. The presenter will also profile some of his uses of TTS and share recordings to illustrate TTS voices.
Student Attitudes Toward English Podcasts Hosted by Native English Speakers vs. Non-native English Speakers #3047
The KIT English Podcast is representative of how several different technologies -- podcasts, software, Google Forms, and Moodle -- can be used together to create an effective and flexible language learning experience that can be quickly tailored to meet the needs of students. Podcasts themselves are a technology that is valuable for language learners, as it provides a source of authentic language that can be easily accessed outside the classroom for autonomous learning. From the instructors standpoint, podcasts are easy to produce using rudimentary recording equipment and free recording and editing software. In this project, another technology that was useful was Google Forms. Administering surveys using this method helped the instructors gauge what topics students were interested in and dictated the topic for each podcast episode that was made during the semester. Moodle was used to create short assessments that were used to test listening comprehension after each podcast assignment. The authors will detail the production process and how the above technologies were used, how topics were chosen, and how factors such as episode topic, British English, and American English affected student attitudes.