Second Language Learning using eBooks

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Abstract

Current Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) tools, which have largely remained unchanged over the past few years, are often inadequate for attaining fluency in a second language. The goal of this work was to build a CALL tool based on bilingual eBooks, following the EPUB3 format. The tool should have an intuitive user interface, include word definitions, and also incorporate a set of serious games.

The project comprised the development of a Python script which took the parallel texts in both languages and pre-recorded audio in the target language and merged them into a single structured eBook document, complete with dynamic features. These features offer the user an improved control over the audio playback, and are not included by default in the target platform, Apple’s iPad in this work. The script also retrieves dictionary definitions for every word in the eBook and includes them in the final document. Additionally, the project also comprised the development of a Javascript application that implements the serious games without relying on online external resources.

A preliminary user study was conducted with a demonstration eBook generated by this system in order to improve its features and understand the expectations users would have for the eBook. Although positive feedback reassures the usefulness of this application, the demand for features that require deeper analysis of the dual language book raises concerns over the viability of the chosen reading platform, Apple’s ibooks application, and the EPUB3 format versus implementing the solution as a standalone mobile application.

Links

Thesis link

Paper link

Youtube link

Contact

Isabel Trancoso