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Web Readability and Computer-Assisted Language Learning

By Alexandra L. Uitdenbogerd


Proficiency in a second language is of vital importance for many people. Today’s access to corpora of text, including the Web, allows new techniques for improving language skill. Our project’s aim is the development of techniques for presenting the user with suitable web text, to allow optimal language acquisition via reading. Some text found on the Web may be of a suitable level of difficulty but appropriate techniques need to be devised for locating it, as well as methods for rapid retrieval. Our experiments described here compare the range of difficulty of text found on the Web to that found in traditional hard-copy texts for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, using standard readability measures. The results show that the ESL text readability range fall within the range for Web text. This suggests that an on-line text retrieval engine based on readability can be of use to language learners. However, web pages pose their own difficulty, since those with scores representing high readability are often of limited use. Therefore readability measurement techniques need to be modified for the Web domain.

Year: 2008
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