Evaluation of computerised reading-assistance systems for reading Japanese texts – from a linguistic point of view
Keywords:Foreign language, Reading, Japanese, Language learning tool
For second-language learners to effectively and efficiently gather information from online texts in their target language, a well-designed computerised system to assist their reading is essential. While many articles and websites which introduce electronic second-language learning tools exist, evaluation of their functions in relation to the theories and empirical evidence revealed in research studies is still scarce. Due to the lack of information, second-language educators tend to leave learners to their own devices in choosing learning tools, which leads to ineffective and inefficient reading. The main aim of this article is to contribute to the development of a framework for evaluating computerised learning-assistance tools, by, as a case study, evaluating computerised reading-assistance systems for second-language readers of Japanese from a linguistic perspective. Firstly, criteria were defined through identifying crucial aspects of reading by reviewing reading-related literature. Two main criteria were information useful for reading comprehension (lexical coverage and accuracy of definitions) and information for the development of reading ability for future reading (explanations about content words, function words, kanji and components, structural and idiomatic information). The results of the evaluation revealed the strengths and weaknesses of different reading-assistance systems. This article then discusses implications for further research.
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