Learning Foreign Language Vocabulary with ALOE

I completed my Master’s thesis this week.  I have to say I cut it a bit close with some of the participants in my study finishing up just last week.  In the course of writing my thesis, I’ve acquired a much deeper understanding of statistics, data visualizations and the more mundane art of Microsoft Word collaboration and document formatting.

For my Master’s, I’ve developed a new system that teaches vocabulary in context by transforming a student’s everyday web browsing experience into a language learning environment. The prototype, dubbed ALOE, selectively translates parts of every web page into the foreign language being learned such that the student reading the page can learn vocabulary using contextual hints provided by the untranslated words.  ALOE also provides multiple choice questions and definition lookups on the translated web pages.  The key idea behind ALOE is that it is able to augment students existing web browsing habits in order to provide language learning opportunities that don’t impede the students web browsing tasks.

To summarize the research results, the two month user evaluation of the ALOE prototype showed that the foreign vocabulary learning approach taken by ALOE works in practice.  Most of the participants enjoyed using ALOE and they were able to learn an average of fifty new vocabulary words.  It was also found that most of the participants wanted to continue using the ALOE prototype as-is but would have benefited from improvements in speed, Website compatibility, learning adaptability and the ability to customize ALOE.

To get all the nitty-gritty details and see the pretty data visualizations I created, feel free to peruse the full thesis:

Andrew Trusty – MSc Thesis – Augmenting the L1 Web for L2 Vocabulary Learning

Update: A shorter verson of my thesis was accepted to the 2011 ACM CHI Conference

The ALOE software currently isn’t available.  Releasing it will require a bit of work to remove all the study-specific hooks and cruft and setup a new server.  But if you’re interested in using it, leave a comment or contact me directly to let me know.  If there’s enough interest I might find the time to release it.