Modern technologies in teaching FLT — страница 8

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are currently technically and pedagogically feasible. With the exception of a few exploratory open response dialog systems, most of these systems are designed to teach and evaluate linguistic form (pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary study, or grammatical structure). This is no coincidence. Formal features can be clearly identified and integrated into a focused task design. This means that robust performance can be expected. Furthermore, mastering linguistic form remains an important component of L2 instruction, despite the emphasis on communication (Holland, 1995). Prolonged, focused practice of a large number of items is still considered an effective means of expanding and reinforcing linguistic competence (Waters, 1994). However, such practice is time consuming. CALL can

automate these aspects of language training, thereby freeing up valuable class time that would otherwise be spent on drills. While such systems are an important step in the right direction, other more complex and ambitious applications are conceivable and no doubt desirable. Imagine a student being able to access the Internet, find the language of his or her choice, and tap into a comprehensive voice-interactive multimedia language program that would provide the equivalent of an entire first year of college instruction. The computer would evaluate the student's proficiency level and design a course of study tailored to his or her needs. Or think of using the same Internet resources and a set of high-level authoring tools to put together a series of virtual encounters surrounding

the task of finding an apartment in Berlin. As a minimum, one would hope that natural speech input capacity becomes a routine feature of any CALL application. To many educators, these may still seem like distant goals, and yet we believe that they are not beyond reach. In what follows, we identify four of the most persistent issues in building speech-enabled language learning applications and suggest how they might be resolved to enable a more widespread commercial implementation of speech technology in CALL. 1. More research is necessary on modeling and predicting multi-turn dialogs. An intelligent open response language tutor must not only correctly recognize a given speech input, but in addition understand what has been said and evaluate the meaning of the utterance for

pragmatic appropriateness. Automatic speech understanding requires Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities, a technology for extracting grammatical, semantic, and pragmatic information from written or spoken discourse. NLP has been successfully deployed in expert systems and information retrieval. One of the first voice-interactive dialog systems using NLP was the DARPA-sponsored Air Travel Information System (Pallett, 1995), which enables the user to obtain flight information and make ticket reservations over the telephone. Similar commercial systems have been implemented for automatic retrieval of weather and restaurant information, virtual environments, and telephone auto-attendants. Many of the lessons learned in developing such systems can be valuable for designing

CALL applications for practicing conversational skills. 2. More and better training data are needed to support basic research on modeling non-native conversational speech. One of the most needed resources for developing open response conversational CALL applications is large corpora of non-native transcribed speech data, of both read and conversational speech. Since accents vary depending on the student's first language, separate databases must either be collected for each L1 subgroup, or a representative sample of speakers of different languages must be included in the database. Creating such databases is extremely labor and cost intensive--a phone level transcription of spontaneous conversational data can cost up to one dollar per phone. A number of multilingual conversational

databases of telephone speech are publicly available through the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC), including Switchboard (US English) and CALLHOME (English, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, German). Our own effort in collaboration with John Hopkins University (Byrne, Knodt, Khudanpur, & Bernstein, 1998; Knodt, Bernstein, & Todic,1998) has been to collect and model spontaneous English conversations between Hispanic natives. All of these efforts will improve our understanding of the disfluent speech of language learners and help model this speech type for the purpose of human-machine communication. DEFINING AND ACQUIRING LITERACY IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION Moll defined literacy as "a particular way of using language for a variety of purposes, as a sociocultural