This column focuses on the reasons for writing programs and how such an approach compares with authoring. How many of your programs do not do exactly what you need, on the machine you need it done on? How many times have you said I wish there was a program to do this but there was not? How many times have you been frustrated by the cost of software, or the poor interface, or the bugs? If you answered yes to any of these questions, than this series of articles is just what the doctor ordered.
While the benefits of computer technology in the classroom may be lauded in journals, conferences and the popular press, one fact is hard to escape, the economics of the technology are working against most language teachers. Visit some ESL/EFL language computer labs or drop in on some on-line news groups and the lack of full funding is quickly seen as a chronic problem. Here is one approach that can help.
Correlation and its close relative regression are statistical techniques of analysis often used in linguistic research. These techniques have also gained wide acceptance in the research of many different fields such as the social sciences, business, economics and finance. While quite sophisticated methods of correlation-regression analysis have been developed, its fundamental meaning and application is often misunderstood by novice researchers as well as the general public.
In this paper, I hope to quickly clarify just what it is that correlation can and cannot do and what conclusions can be drawn from correlations in your research data. Additionally, I'll introduce the procedure of partial correlation, which can reveal erroneous correlations and help find hidden correlations in your data.
In Asia, the role of English is vital in many professional fields. This fact has lead to English playing an important role in most Asian education systems. English writing instructors, in Asia, however, face an apparently insoluble contradiction of wanting to teach a process approach to writing while having to face large class sizes and heavy teaching loads. In this study, the application of computers, used for creating feedback on grammar and mechanical errors, shows how one responsibility of the teacher can be shouldered by technology. This approach used low cost technology and did not require expensive computer labs. The results included: no interference with the instructors teaching methods, decrease in errors, more time for emphasis on process writing.
This paper details the development and application of a computer based expert system that finds errors in students business letter writing assignments. The project was begun in 1990 and set out to find if such a system could be created by English instructors (no such system existed at the time which was practical and affordable for ROC colleges). The major goal was to reduce teacher burden while increasing the amount of feedback given to students.
A software package was created through the use of new easy-to-use software development languages and programming methodologies. The QBL TOOLS expert system was found to be a low cost, medium technological answer to the problem of large class size. A trial study was performed in the 1992-1993 school year, including 200 ESL students, and found that such a system was practical and was able to measure statistically significant reductions in students writing errors.
The system was then used to correct their letters with feedback on the errors being returned to the students. Data was collected and analyzed on the changes in errors that took place over the 1993 spring semester. A statistical profile of error types and changes over time was generated including ANOVA, t test of means and trend analysis. The most common error type was spelling mistakes. Errors tended to decrease as number of assignments increased. Significant decreases in errors were especially pronounced for the third assignment. The computer based system of correction was found to be a valid tool for tracking student errors and generating statistical measurements of changes in errors. Recommendations are offered for future research using these tools.
This paper reviews the creation of an expert system in response to the needs of business English writing instructors in the Republic of China on Taiwan. The specific need for such a system is first reviewed including the constraints faced when attempting to apply computer technology in the classroom. Program development is covered in detail for a Windows based expert system.
Emphasis is placed on the specific features required in order to reduce the cost and time of software development for non-professional computer programmers, i.e., language teachers. Usability is covered with details about the creation of graphical elements in Windows and the programming technologies of object oriented programming. Windows API calls, DDE and OLE are detailed.
Beginning in 1990, we set out to find a way to overcome the problem presented by English written homework in the business English class. After grading hundreds of assignments by hand, it seemed obvious that much of the time was being spent in the mechanical action of writing comments on the students' papers. We also observed that the majority of errors were repeated among students, thus causing the teacher to mark the same error and write the same comment numerous times. A technological solution seemed perfect for such a situation.
A preliminary study of the computer based correction system, performed during the 1992 fall semester, proved the concept viable. Through the use of the automated approach, time spent correcting assignments was decreased 90 percent, the number of letter writing assignments was increased and students received detailed feedback on their writing errors. During that time, the software to analyze correction results, QBL TOOLS, was completed. For the 1993 Spring semester, we initiated a more detailed study of the QBL approach. This experiment was intended to answer the question: Can statistical measurements be generated that reveal the impact of the QBL system on students' English writing errors? If answered in the positive, then this experiment would also be a starting point for a more thorough research project in the 1993-94 school year.
The impact of using computers for automated detection of students' writing errors was studied in Taiwan during the 1993 fall semester. All aspects of class teaching, including: course material, grading policies and homework assignments, were controlled to assure consistency between control and test groups. Pre and post surveys were administered to measure students' attitudes about their own English skills. Computer generated corrections were returned to the test group, while withheld from the control group. Students' attitudes did change significantly in seven out of nine areas for the test group and three out of nine for the control group. Both groups used computer software to complete assignments so that the actual use of computers was not questioned in this study.
This paper reviews the creation of an expert system in response to the needs of business English writing instructors in the Republic of China on Taiwan. The specific need for such a system is first reviewed including the constraints faced when attempting to apply computer technology in the classroom. Program development is covered in detail for both a DOS based word processor and a Windows based expert system.
Emphasis is placed on the specific features required in order to reduce cost and time of software development for non-professional computer programmers. Usability is covered with details about the creation of graphical elements in the DOS environment, such as menus and mouse support. The new Windows programming technologies of object oriented programming, Windows API calls, DDE and OLE are detailed.
When a student enrolls for a course on Shakespeare, he/she certainly would not expect to be reading War and Peace. A course titled, electronic circuits, would not cover the development of steam power. Yet when it comes to a course titled, business English, no one can be quite sure what will be covered during the duration of the course.
Schools are uncertain if a business communication class belongs in a Business Department or a English Department. This fundamental uncertainty often leads to more uncertainty when choosing instructors, goals, standards, textbooks, etc. The result is that if you enroll in a business communication class, you could be quite surprised by what is taught. In this paper I review the existing literature in an attempt to inform the pedagogy of business communication in the R.O.C. Rather than simply state an opinion of what business English should be, I have concentrated on summerizing research that brings an emperical insight to business communication instruction.
This paper is divided into three major parts, each answering a fundimental question. The first question, and the logical beginning for such a discourse, is WHAT IS BUSINESS ENGLISH? A look into the different types of communication used within and without a business reveals just what business communication is. By then examining data collected about what most business communication courses focus on, we begin to get an idea of what such a class is. Lastly, we can look at what some of the blocks to learning commonly found in business communication classes. Part two asks, WHAT IS THE NEED FOR BUSINESS ENGLISH? By looking at specific needs of managers in Taiwan, we can begin to get an idea of what skills will best serve students after graduating. The English language, more than any other language, has come close to a being considered a world language. Simoltaniously, the importance of the North American domestic market remains central to the R.O.C.s economic success. The macro business environment is examined along with the trends in international business that should influence business communication instruction in the R.O.C.
The third and final part investigates the implementation of business communication courses with the question HOW TO APPLY BUSINESS ENGLISH AT AN ACADEMIC INSTITUTION. Research into what the possibilities are in teaching business communication is presented. How factors such as class size and English ability can be dealt with are covered.