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Using LARA for Second Language Teaching in Iran: A pilot study in Farsi and English

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author AkbariOmid, AkhlaghiElham, ChuaCathy, HabibiHanieh, Martinez-LopezRuth, RaynerManny,
Project A Crowdsourcing Platform for Spoken CALL Content
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Title of proceedings Proceedings of EuroCALL 2020

Abstract

LARA (Learning and Reading Assistant; https://www.unige.ch/callector/lara/) is an open source project initiated in the second quarter of 2018. The LARA tools provide a simple interface to support transformation of text documents into enhanced online versions desgned to help language learning students improve their competence in the L2 through reading. Features which can be used in LARA texts include recorded audio files, a hyperlinked concordance, frequency-ordered and alphabetical vocabulary lists, pictures and translations. At the time of writing, LARA has been used to create substantial pieces of content for more than ten languages. This paper describes how LARA has been used for Farsi and English language learners in Iran. Our main focus is evaluating how adult students learning Farsi and English as their second language have reacted to initial LARA contents. The participants will be L2 adult learners between 20-40 years old, females and males. Farsi learners will be a heterogeneous group of students from three different countries, and since the participants are at elementary and intermediate levels, their feedback and suggestions were gathered using questionnaires in their first language. English learners will be a homogenious undergraduate students of English, all speak Farsi as their first language. Both groups will use LARA with its current functionalities in computers. The testing will consist of two parts. The first part will focus on the general user experience of the tool including its current functionalities. The second part will consist of investigating the learning effect. This will be done based a pre- and a post questionnaire addressing the understanding of vocabulary and grammar. Understanding the reading of text will be part of the post test. Feedback from learners will be analysed and presented at the conference. Their points of view and their suggestions on how the tool might be improved are encouraging and helpful. Creating more Farsi and English texts, using the current existing texts and expanding teachers and students’ association with LARA for these two languages in Iran is progressing.
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