LINGUIST List 13.2258

Tue Sep 10 2002

Sum: Open Source Language Learning

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Doug Whalen, Open Source Language Learning

Message 1: Open Source Language Learning

Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 12:16:55 -0400
From: Doug Whalen <>
Subject: Open Source Language Learning

 A while back, I posted this query:

> Does anyone know of any open-source programs for teaching a language?
> Ideally, this would be something modularized so that new languages
> could be introduced into the system.

I received some responses, which I summarize below. I thank:
Monica Ward <>
Anders Damgren H�jen <>
Deborah W. Anderson <>
John Dowding <>

Monica Ward had the most directly relevant posting:

>I have developed a template for developing CALL (Computer Assisted Language
>Learning) materials for Endangered Languages (although it could be used for
>any language). I have used XML technologies and the design is modular.
>I have developed courseware in Nawat (or Pipil), an Endangered Language of
>El Salvador. There is an online version of the course at:
>There is also a CD and a printed version (for those with no computer
>I have started working with Louanna Furbee on developing a version for the
>Tojolab'al language of Mexico.
>I have also developed a (very rough) demo lesson for Kabiye (a language of
>Togo, Benin). It is available at:
>It is not difficult to generate the courseware (it mainly involves entering
>plain text into files and running a script to create the web pages).
>The aim of the template is to enable Endangered Language communities to
>develop CALL courseware easily and without too much difficulty. I believe
>that developing modern, online courseware can help raise the prestige of a
>language, both within the EL community and amongst the wider community
>(amongst other benefits). I have written several papers about the template
>and CALL in the EL context.

Deborah Anderson also had reference to a relevant project:

>One resource being developed at UC Davis in Open Remote 
>Collaboration Tool (OpenRCT), described at 
> . This is being supported (or is in 
>some way related to) the UC Language Consortium as a means to teach 
>languages, though it can also be used for other purposes as well. 
>They have a multilingual chat capability, which works well in a 
>cross-platform environment, except for a particular problem with 
>Arabic on the Mac. The developers, under Dick Walters, are eager for 
>input and would be happy to answer questions.

She also pointed out that there is an email list called Language 
Learning Technology International at, which might 
be a place to continue a discussion about open source programs; there 
is not much there right now.

Anders Damgren H�jen pointed out VISL (, 
which has tools for various languages. It is not immediately clear 
whether this is open source or not, but it's a very interesting site.

John Dowding runs a web site that makes some open source software 
available: None of this is geared toward 
language learning, but it might be useful for other interface issues.

Thanks to all,
Doug Whalen DhW
Doug Whalen (
Haskins Laboratories
270 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06511
203-865-6163, ext. 234
FAX: 203-865-8963
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue