Stringnet navigator

Taming the Jungle of Formulaic
Language for Learners: Applying
StringNet Lexical Knowledgebase to
EFL Academic Writing
Barry Lee Reynolds
National Central University
Jhongli, Taiwan
StringNet Navigator
Implementation: Pilot Study
Preliminary Results
Inspiration Behind StringNet Navigator
• Inventors of StringNet
– Prof. David Wible & Dr. Nai-Lung Tsao
• Why was StringNet Navigator created?
– To solve a problem for learners
– Previous work found “word usage” the most common
error reported
– Can be solved by sending students to:
• Grammars
• Dictionaries
• Concordancers
– StringNet Navigator is a bridge between grammar and
StringNet Navigator Home Page
Search Options
Search Results
Four Basic Types of Relations
Examples Taken from BNC
Examples from BNC of the pattern
“[adj] study have shown that”
Parents: More Abstract Versions
Parents of:
“[adj] study have shown that”
Children: More Specific Versions
Children of:
“[adj] study have shown that”
Expand: to Longer Versions
Expanded (Longer) Versions of:
“[adj] study have shown that”
Contract: to Shorter Versions
Contracted (Shorter) Versions of:
“[adj] study have shown that”
• Taiwanese students do not have much need
for English till graduate school where they are:
– Expected to read and understand scholarly articles
from their future areas of expertise
– Add to this community of research by writing
academic journal articles and conference papers
– Write their theses or dissertations in English
• Industrial management graduate students (n =
23) voluntarily enrolled in English self-learning
• Split into five classes of 4-5 Ss each based on
English ability (low, intermediate, high)
determined by their graduate institute
• Students were taught text structure, a method
found to positively facilitate ESL reading
comprehension (Carrell, 1985).
• Introduced to StringNet Navigator (Tsao &
Wible, 2009; Wible & Tsao, 2010; 2011) and
its features
• Given a reading and writing task incorporating
StringNet Navigator
Reading & Writing Task
Each student was given a different ‘core’ paper from the field of
industrial management with the abstract removed.
Students were taught text structure during the first two classes
and asked to individually read his or her paper after class.
During the next three classes students shared paper contents
during in-class discussion.
During the seventh class students individually wrote an abstract
for his or her paper and then gave it to the teacher.
During the eighth class students were taught how to use StringNet
Navigator and its features.
During the ninth class abstracts were returned and students told
to select words from the abstracts as queries for StringNet.
Students revised and handed in revisions before the end of class.
In the last class students shared their experience of using
StringNet Navigator to aid revision of their drafts.
Discovery of Noun Countability
• *‘many researches have shown’
• *‘much researches have shown’
• Subsequent queries of: ‘research’, ‘many’,
‘many researches,’ ‘much’, and ‘show’
revealed countability of ‘research’
• Triggered revisions to ‘research has shown
that’ and ‘previous research has shown’
Query: researches show
Discovery of Substitutability (1/2)
• Subsequent queries of: ‘study’, ‘develop model’
and ‘literature’ revealed substitutability through
[adj] slots.
• Example 1
– ‘[adj] studies have shown that’
– Triggered the change to ‘many’, ‘several’, or
‘numerous’ studies have shown that
• Example 2
– ‘develop a [adj] model’
– Triggered the revision ‘dynamic’, ‘statistical’, and
‘mathematical’ model
Query: develop model
Discover of Substitutability (2/2)
• ‘*The literatures on the past used’
– The n-gram ‘[adj] literature on the [noun sg]’
• ‘existing literature on the subject’
– Students also commented on the substitutability
of the [adj] in that ‘published’ and ‘recent’ were
other possibilities
Query: literatures on
Article Errors
*’or so called the taxonomy’
*’forms taxonomy of’
*’based on taxonomy’
Queries of the words ‘taxonomy’ and ‘so called’
revealed the pattern and fixed expression
– ‘[art] taxonomy of’
– ‘the so called’
– Revisions triggered included: ‘or the so called’, ‘forms
a taxonomy of’, and ‘based on the taxonomy’
Query: taxonomy
• Students were able to successfully self-correct several
writing errors
• Students’ reactions to StringNet varied by English
– Higher level learners felt StringNet Navigator was very
– Lower level learners felt overwhelmed
• Which words should be searched?
• How to interpret results?
– Intermediate learners
• Claimed similar difficulties as lower level learners
• Able to successfully self-correct errors when suggested queries
were pointed out to them
Thank You For Your Attention
Carrell, P.L. (1985). Facilitating ESL reading by teaching text structure. TESOL Quarterly, 19(4), 727-752.
Carrell, P. L., & Eisterhold, J. C. (1983). Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 17(4), 553-573
Flowerdew, J. (1999). Problems in writing for scholarly publication in English: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of
Second Language Writing, 8(3), 243-264.
Flowerdew, J. (2000). Discourse community, legitimate peripheral participation, and the nonnative-Englishspeaking scholar. TESOL Quarterly, 34(1), 127-150.
Reynolds, B.L. & Wible, D. (2012). Word form variation matters more than frequency of exposure in incidental
vocabulary acquisition. 2012 British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Conference: Southampton, UK.
Reynolds, B.L. (in press). Comments on Anthony Bruton, Miguel Garcia Lopez, & Raquel Esquiliche Mesa’s
incidental L2 vocabulary learning: An impracticable term. TESOL Quarterly (SSCI).
Tsao N.-L. & Wible, D. (2009). A Method for Unsupervised Broad-Coverage Lexical Error Detection and Correction,
The NAACL HLT Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications, Boulder, Colorado, May
31-June 5, 2009.
Wible, D., Kuo, C. H., Tsao, N., & Liu, A. (2001). An online writing platform for second language learners. Journal of
Universal Computer Science, 3(3), 278-289.
Wible, D. & Tsao, N.-L. (2010). StringNet as a Computational Resource for Discovering and Investigating Linguistic
Constructions, The NAACL HLT Workshop on Extracting and Using Constructions in Computational Linguistics, LA,
June 1-June6, 2010.
Wible, D. & Tsao, N.-L. (2011). The StringNet Lexico-Grammatical Knowledgebase and its Applications, Proceedings
of the Workshop on Multiword Expressions: from Parsing and Generation to the Real World.

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