6. Interactive language learning exercises
Before we discuss the technical issues of client-side and server-side programming, it is helpful for us to take a brief look at the various language learning activities that we often use in classroom teaching.
6.1 Learner output
Interaction in language learning activities always involves learner output. Learners' output falls into two categories: 1) Those which are discrete and predictable; 2) Those which are dynamic and unpredictable.
Point to remember: Computers are good at processing linguistic output that is discrete and predictable but may be at a loss with respect to dynamic and unpredictable linguistic output.
6.1.1 Exercises that require discrete and predictable output
We often use the following formats to provide language learning exercises. Note that they are in written form. At this time, oral output is still difficult to deal with through the web.
6.1.2 Exercises that require dynamic output
There are two kinds of feedback: 1) Immediate feedback; 2) Delayed feedback. Dealing with the former is more interesting and technically challenging.
6.2.1 Delayed feedback
We can collect student's output and send them over to an instructor for evaluation.
6.2.2 Immediate feedback
When a learner submits or requests evaluation of his output, feedback is provided immediately by the computer (whether it's a client machine or server machine). There are two major ways through which feedback can be delivered to the learner.
If feedback contains text, we can use the following. You can click on the links to see a sample display.
When non-verbal feedback is sufficient, we can optionally use:
For now, web implementation of interactive language exercises is mainly through the use of web form elements or interactive image maps. Further these exercises are restricted to those who require discrete responses. For example, multiple-choice questions or True/False questions can be realized by using Radio Buttons or Check Boxes. The following is a sample demonstration using Radio Button.
We will provide more sample demonstration in the next two sections.