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Taming the Jungle of Formulaic Language for Learners: Applying StringNet Lexical Knowledgebase to EFL Academic Writing Barry Lee Reynolds National Central.

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Presentation on theme: "Taming the Jungle of Formulaic Language for Learners: Applying StringNet Lexical Knowledgebase to EFL Academic Writing Barry Lee Reynolds National Central."— Presentation transcript:

1 Taming the Jungle of Formulaic Language for Learners: Applying StringNet Lexical Knowledgebase to EFL Academic Writing Barry Lee Reynolds National Central University Jhongli, Taiwan

2 Outline StringNet Navigator Implementation: Pilot Study Preliminary Results Conclusions Q&A


4 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

5 StringNet Navigator Home Page

6 Search Options

7 “study” Search Results

8 Four Basic Types of Relations

9 Examples Taken from BNC

10 Examples from BNC of the pattern “[adj] study have shown that”

11 Parents: More Abstract Versions

12 Parents of: “[adj] study have shown that”

13 Children: More Specific Versions

14 Children of: “[adj] study have shown that”

15 Expand: to Longer Versions

16 Expanded (Longer) Versions of: “[adj] study have shown that”

17 Contract: to Shorter Versions

18 Contracted (Shorter) Versions of: “[adj] study have shown that”


20 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

21 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

22 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

23 Reading & Writing Task 1.Each student was given a different ‘core’ paper from the field of industrial management with the abstract removed. 2.Students were taught text structure during the first two classes and asked to individually read his or her paper after class. 3.During the next three classes students shared paper contents during in-class discussion. 4.During the seventh class students individually wrote an abstract for his or her paper and then gave it to the teacher. 5.During the eighth class students were taught how to use StringNet Navigator and its features. 6.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. 7.In the last class students shared their experience of using StringNet Navigator to aid revision of their drafts.


25 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’

26 Query: researches show

27 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

28 Query: develop model

29 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

30 Query: literatures on

31 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’

32 Query: taxonomy


34 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

35 Q&A Thank You For Your Attention

36 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-English- speaking 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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