Computer-assisted learning systems

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Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby voron » 2016-04-29, 7:21

CALL aka computer-assisted language learning certainly experiences a boom recently. To help fellow Unilangers make a choice, let's share the systems that we know and reasons why we like or dislike them.

I'll start.

Spaced repetition programs:
Anki
http://ankisrs.net

Memrise
http://www.memrise.com

I tried both and in the end I settled down on Memrise. I guess my main reason is that Memrise checks your answers automatically, while in Anki it is completely up to you to assess your answer. I feel like it's an extra effort and it makes me tired/bored quickly.

Reason 2, Memrise is web based from the very start, so the synchronization between the web and your mobile device is automatic and I never had problems with it. In Anki though, I have to manually control the sync (it was so the last time I checked), and I know several people who complained they lost their decks because of doing the sync wrong.

Also I recently found out about the tour Memrise has been carrying out to record words and phrases from native speakers and collect them into a video dictionary, and from their teaser videos it looks like it's going to be an awesome thing:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/88 ... ts/1420008

One thing I dislike about Memrise: its app is too much gamified. It has visual effects like opening flowers and flying stars when you collect points, which is annoying and cannot be disabled. I reported this to them and I hope they can at least add an option to disable it.
Last edited by voron on 2016-04-29, 8:04, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby voron » 2016-04-29, 7:36

Full-blown courses:

Duolingo
https://www.duolingo.com

We all know and love Duolingo. With all its shortcomings (among which most often listed are repetitiveness and artificiality of its sentences), it's a great and fun way to get familiar with the language basics (basic vocab and grammar), using the time that you would normally waste (e.g. when commuting). However, nobody should hope that Duo will teach them to talk or even to be able to read real life texts. It will take you to B1 at most (but more realistically A2).

Lingvist
https://lingvist.io

I found out about it just now from uzferry's blog. At a first glance it looks like Assimil brought in an online setting, with an embedded spaced repetition system. Which is actually not a bad idea!

LinguaLeo
https://lingualeo.com

Their main focus is English which is not useful for most Unilangers. They have grammar lessons, word training exercises and learning through texts and songs section.

I know other Unilangers use Mango, but I think it has some availability restrictions. I couldn't access most of its courses.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby voron » 2016-04-29, 7:57

Learning through texts, songs and films:

Steve Kaufmann's LingQ
http://www.thelinguist.com

Learning With Texts
http://lwt.sourceforge.net

These are systems that let you work through a text, and annotate new words.

LingQ looks to be more well-known (due to Steve Kaufmann's videos advertising it), but LWT has more or less the same functionality for free. I think the main differences are that LingQ has a prepared selection of texts, and online teachers.

Lyrics Training
http://lyricstraining.com

Type in the lyrics you hear while listening to a song. The faster you type and the fewer mistakes you make, the more points you get. I had lots of fun with it when competing with my friends.

Subs2srs
http://subs2srs.sourceforge.net

If you have a video file and a subtitle file for it, you can use this program to slice them into a set of Anki cards. It looks fun and I did use it once to create a deck from a Turkish show, but never worked through that deck (maybe due to my antipathy to Anki?)

Bliu Bliu
https://bliubliu.com

Imports various online content into its learning environment. Looks fun but I haven't really used it.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-04-29, 19:18

voron wrote:We all know and love Duolingo.

I actually don't really care for Duolingo; I just do it every now and then pretty much just for the lulz. For me, Duolingo is too much like my online translation job without the pay.

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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby eskandar » 2016-07-13, 17:36

I just started using Clozemaster, a free game-like site where you use sentence-based cloze-deletion to practice languages. Has anyone else used it? Opinions? I'm playing around with Arabic, French, and Turkish. French seems pretty well-developed.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby voron » 2016-07-13, 19:50

I just tried it and it looks awesome!

Being a software engineer myself, I am always excited to see how technology helps with language learning. With this rate of development of language learning apps we are seeing nowadays, I can envision the future where language learning methods will become highly effective and learning a language will be a matter of several months.

As it is said in the description of Clozemaster, it combines sentences from Tatoeba (tatoeba.org), the frequency lists from Wikipedia (so that the least frequent words are offered for learning), and space repetition algorithms as the ones used in Anki. This is a notable feature of today's apps: they use crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence. And it helps create wonders. (In the light of the recent release of the Pokemon Go game, I wonder if the concept of augmented reality could be applied to language learning, too).

A few things about Clozemaster that need improvement:
1) Kurdish language is missing (I'll definitely send a request to add it)
2) In Turkish sentences, the words that are offered for training are often noun endings (like Tom'a or Tom'un). I guess it's because when they come after an apostrophe the system considers them separate words, and since they are not on the frequency list they are considered rare words.
3) The sentences are not originals but translations, so there is a certain degree of artificiality to them. This of course has nothing to do with Clozemaster but is rather a limitation of Tatoeba.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby eskandar » 2016-07-13, 21:28

Yeah, the reliance on Tatoeba is kind of a mixed bag. Tatoeba gives you tons of material, but some of the material is of questionable quality/utility. I just had a look at the Urdu sentences over there (Urdu isn't on Clozemaster yet - maybe I'll request it) and found two mistakes just in the first ten results alone. One is just a spelling error, but the other is entirely wrong; the "today is Saturday" provides the Uyghur translation, not Urdu (clearly just mistagged). I couldn't find a way to edit the sentences or even mark them as erroneous.

I noticed the same thing about the Turkish sentences. If you're doing text input and not multiple choice, it can be worthwhile, though.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Car » 2016-07-14, 9:57

https://www.futurelearn.com/ has lots of free online courses by universities, including a couple of language courses. I did the Dutch course, which was good, and the Italian one, which had a too steep progression. They also had a course in Catalan Sign Language and there's a Frisian course coming up (by the Uni of Groningen, which also did the Dutch course) as well as several Spanish courses which are based on each other. Considering that more and more universities worldwide are offering courses, it's quite likely that more languages will follow. They only teach you basic stuff, though, since they're interested in you signing up for the courses they offer online or on campus.

Their courses use https://quizlet.com to teach vocabulary and grammar.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Antea » 2018-02-28, 17:08

Has anybody ever used Instagram to learn languages? :hmm:

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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby atalarikt » 2018-03-01, 5:37

Antea wrote:Has anybody ever used Instagram to learn languages? :hmm:

There's not many IG accounts focused on learning languages, but if you're into African languages, you can check out @learnganow, which focuses on the Ga language of Ghana.
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِلْعَالِمِينَ۝
"And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge." (Ar-Rum: 22)

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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Car » 2018-03-13, 20:13

I've mentioned LingQ before and they linked to (no pun intended) this meta review on their Facebook page which actually sums it up quite nicely (apart from the fact that they support more languages than those mentioned there and they don't mention the bugs).

If you want to go to LingQ straight away, it's found here
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Karavinka » 2018-04-22, 6:10

(ja)Rikaichan
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/deta ... kjaj?hl=en
(zh)Perapera
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/deta ... jmebhkkaif

Pop-up dictionary for Chrome, there are versions for Firefox as well.


SRS-wise, I am an Anki supremacist (if not already obvious) as I believe it's the most flexible and customizable. I don't really use anything premade so the amount of existing stuff on the platform isn't really an issue to me, and when I see a computerized method that looks interesting, there usually is a way to replicate it on Anki.

Say, I've used Tatoeba for the sentences, and adding one card at a time manually solves the problem of the sentences that you don't like -- whereas relying on automation inevitably creates cards that have problematic contents, or the cards that you don't even need in your deck in the first place.

While that is a lot of work, assessing each card and adding extra notes as you need is a part of the language learning process, and I consider mining to be the more important part of the learning than reviewing, especially in the early stages of learning. And since you are in charge of the quality control of the deck contents, I believe it ends up saving time as you won't need to review the things the program just created even though you really don't need.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Luís » 2018-06-17, 11:22

Any opinions on Clozemaster?

@voron, eskandar: are you guys still using it? Has it improved over time?
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Car » 2018-06-17, 11:37

I'm using the free version, but registered. I'm not sure what to think. It's not bad, depending on the combination, they do have lots of sentences, but some of them are almost as useless as the ones you'll see on Duolingo and there are mistakes in it. Still, you don't need to sign up for the pro version, so why not? They've started adding some new features of late, too.

I signed up for Busuu when I came across this offer and I like it so far. Ok, the result I got in the placement test is highly questionable, but I do like their courses, especially their grammar explanations. They're neither dumbed down nor too difficult, but feel just right. It's great to be able to write or record sentences and have them corrected by native speakers, too.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby eskandar » 2018-06-27, 14:50

Luís wrote:Any opinions on Clozemaster?

@voron, eskandar: are you guys still using it? Has it improved over time?

I gave up on it long ago, I ultimately found it pretty useless. I don't like Duolingo much better tbh.
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Re: Computer-assisted learning systems

Postby Surgeon » 2018-06-30, 9:23

Glossika revised their language learning program. They went from hard cover books and e-books to AI suppprted browser app.

They used to charge 80-100 usd per course ( e.g. Russian Fluency module 1,2,3 - total of 3000 sentences.) and now they changed their business plan and created a Netflix clone for language learning. You can pay monthly or yearly fees to get access to all the languages so you can learn Scottish Gaelic in February and Latvian in March. Or you can learn multiple languages and you have unlimited reps if you choose to pay for the program. They merged their fluency series with the bussiness, travel and daily life modules (for languages where it's available). You start out by taking a short quiz to assess your CEFR level so you don't have to start from A1 if yOu already studied the language previously.

There's a free trial allowing you to do 1000 reps for each language.

Some of the languages are free in the name of language preservance. (Welsh, Sorani Kurdish, Two Taiwanese Hakka dialects, Taiwanese Hokkien and Wenzhounese)

It's worth a try. I paid for a month, but I sold my phone so I cancelled my subscription.


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