The etutor



Professional Activities

Editor LLT

Research Interests

My main research interest lies in Computer-Assisted Language Learning, bridging applied and computational linguistics. I am interested in the design as well as the evaluation of Intelligent Language Tutoring Systems (ILTSs) - computer environments for second language learning that make use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and techniques of Artificial Intelligence.

From a second language acquisition (SLA) and CALL perspective, I focus on studies of human-computer interaction (e.g., navigation patterns, learner strategies and responses within intelligent systems, learner and task variables), corrective feedback and error analysis. From a computational point of view, I am interested in automatic analysis of learner language and learner modeling. Learner models try to gather and structure information about the learner by determining their current knowledge state and taking into account learner and task variables. Most of this work involves empirical studies with the ultimate goal of creating a language learning environment that best facilitates learning through truly individualized instruction. In this context, I am investigating what techniques different learners employ when using a language learning system.

Most of my SLA and CALL software usability studies are carried out with The etutor, an online learning system for German that is used for L2 instruction at the university level (see Heift & Nicholson, 2001). The system consists of a robust parsing system with a Head Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). The ILTS provides error-specific learner feedback by performing a linguistic analysis of learner input. In addition, it contains an open learner model that also adjusts and modulates feedback suited to learner expertise by considering individualized help options.