Autonomous Technology-Assisted Language Learning/Interaction/Text Based

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Asynchronous Text

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Google's free Gmail service has a handy built-in multilingual spelling checker. While composing a message, the writer can click "Check spelling" and Gmail will does its best to auto-detect the language you are writing. Alternatively, you can click the triangle and select the language you are writing from the 32 languages (including Latin!) listed. This feature is not restricted to checking and correcting the spelling in Gmail, as any text can be pasted into a compose window for a quick spelling check.

Also referred to as Internet Forums and Message Boards, Web Forums, Message Boards, Discussion Boards, Discussion Groups, or simply, Forums.

In language classrooms, teachers often ask students to use blogs to have asynchronous interaction with their peers and their teachers.

Wikis can be used for asynchronous text interaction with the text, with the author and editors of the text, and with other readers of the text using the "discussion" page. Some activities that L2 learners may find worthwhile are:

  • Write and revise: L2 students can write in their L2 and have their writing corrected by their teachers and/or fellow L2 learners.
  • Read and edit: L2 students can read and edit/correct/revise the text.
  • Read and discuss: L2 students can read and discuss the text with authors and other readers using the "discussion" page that is part of all Mediawiki Wikis.
  • Translate L1 to L2 and/or L2 to L1: L2 students can take an article in the Wikipedia or other wikis and translate from their L1 to L2 and/or from L2 to L1.

BluWiki [1] is a free wiki host that uses MediaWiki software, the same softare used by this Wikibook.

Here is a list of free and paid wiki hosts.

Synchronous Text

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My Language Exchange [2] is a site that aids learners of a second language to find each other and communicate in a safe environment through email, chat, and voice chat exchange options.

  • Jabber [3] is "an open, secure, ad-free alternative to consumer IM services like AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo (see the IM quickstart). Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real time" (from Jabber website). Due to its interoperability with other IM systems, Jabber has great potential for ATALL.
  • Meebo (alhpa version) (official website) is a completely web-based IM client that currently supports a user's accounts on AIM/ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber/Google Talk and Microsoft Messenger (MSN). See review.
  • IM Federation (official website)
  • List of instant messengers

Chat Rooms

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  • MOOing in a foreign language
  • ActiveWorlds is a web-based virtual reality (VR) space where people interact with one other by moving around various worlds in a three dimensional avatar. The communication is done through text chat. People can create virtual homepages or virtual worlds, where you can interact with the artifacts created in the world. For example, you can teleport through a wormhole to get to different countries, ride virtual roller-coaster rides; visit museums, and buildings. To create your own virtual homepage (or virtual worlds), you need to register and pay a monthly fee. It seems as if used wisely and creatively, it can be a great place to chat in a foreign language. Sadly, only PC users can access the interface. An Active Worlds site has been established at Michigan State University that can be used for no cost for language learning (contact Professor Young Zhao:
  • English
    • Tapped In: "Tapped In is the online workplace of an international community of education professionals. K-12 teachers and librarians, professional development staff, teacher education faculty and students, and researchers engage in professional development programs and informal collaborative activities with colleagues."
  • French
  • Spanish
  • See Purushotma, 2005
  • Yahoo! Games in French You need to have a Yahoo membership to sign in and play a game. Users can select the desired game from the list of options, such as card games, chess, etc. There is the synchronous aspect of the games as players can chat with each other in a Java chat format while playing the game. This may allow for L2 students to learn specific vocabulary pertaining to a game.
  • For other synchronous Yahoo! Games in a desired L2, one can change the country domain in the URL address (i.e. FR for France, DE for Germany, ES for Spain, etc.) to load the games in the desired language. Click on the links below for examples of Yahoo! Games in German and Spanish.
  • Yahoo! Games in German
  • Yahoo! Games in Spanish