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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Parallel texts in FL learning
Author:   John Nerbonne
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Applied Linguistics
Language Acquisition

Query:   There are lots of ''parallel texts'' published in English/German (Reclam) or Russian/English (Penguin) or Latin/English (Harvard et al.). I've seen them in other language pairs, too, such as Irish/English (Mercier) where they're called ''dual language texts''. The existence of the series suggests that the market recognizes value in the parallel texts.

- Are such texts recommended for use for people who wish to learn a foreign language?
- Or is their proven value limited to making genuine texts available to beginning
and intermediate students of a language?
- Can you refer me to studies of this, either systematic reflexion or, if it exists,
empirical studies?

Thanks. I'll post a summary of responses within, say, three weeks.

Here is more detail, for those who wish it:

I work in computer processing of language, and my question is motivated by thoughts about applying some of that technology to language learning. (I've done some work on this which is available on my web page http://www.let.rug.nl/~nerbonne/ ''papers''). Technically, we are in a position to align translations of texts. So if I have a copies of a book in English and French, the programs will align these well enough so that one can point to a word in French and ask: how was this translated? The translation, in context, can be supplied.

It's pretty clear that translators like this technology. If nothing else, it reminds them quickly of old solutions to problems in translation. So I'm wondering whether an application in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) makes pedagogical sense. (Actually, a project I was involved with, GLOSSER, developed this as part of a package for CALL, and it is technically satisfactory. See http://www.let.rug.nl/~glosser/ But now I want to know how much pedagogical sense it makes.)

John Nerbonne, nerbonne@let.rug.nl
LL Issue: 9.1614
Date posted: 16-Nov-1998


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