Taming the Jungle of Formulaic Language for Learners: Applying StringNet Lexical Knowledgebase to EFL Academic Writing Barry Lee Reynolds National Central University Jhongli, Taiwan Outline • • • • • StringNet Navigator Implementation: Pilot Study Preliminary Results Conclusions Q&A STRINGNET NAVIGATOR 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 vocabulary StringNet Navigator Home Page http://nav.stringnet.org/ Search Options “study” 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” IMPLEMENTATION: PILOT STUDY Background • 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 Participants • Industrial management graduate students (n = 23) voluntarily enrolled in English self-learning classes • Split into five classes of 4-5 Ss each based on English ability (low, intermediate, high) determined by their graduate institute Methods • 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 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 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. PRELIMINARY RESULTS 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]’ trigged: • ‘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 CONCLUSIONS Conclusions • Students were able to successfully self-correct several writing errors • Students’ reactions to StringNet varied by English ability – Higher level learners felt StringNet Navigator was very helpful – 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 Q&A References • • • • • • • • • • 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.