Empowering Language Learners Through Corpus Linguistics, Educational Technology, and Natural Language Processing Tools
In our post-2020 world, language education has dramatically changed for many institutions, instructors, and learners. Institutions have had to radically reorganize entire language curricula to adapt to rapidly changing education environments where classes may be held face-to-face, online, or in some kind of hybrid form. Similarly, instructors have had to adapt to these new environments by modifying or completely revising their existing materials and classroom methods as well as their evaluation procedures. Learners are also now expected to develop their language skills in learning environments that are often radically different to those of just one year ago. For example, now, they may have extremely limited opportunities to communicate directly with the instructor and be expected to do much of their learning in isolation. Also, even when they do interact with the instructor and other class members, they might have to do this in a virtual environment that restricts the possible modes of communication and who is able to talk at a particular time. We therefore live in a 'new normal' for language education where learner empowerment is a key factor for success. In this plenary talk, I will first describe some of the recent developments in corpus linguistics, educational technology, and natural language processing that greatly increase the possibilities for language learner empowerment. These innovations not only give learners the ability to take control of their own learning agenda, but they also provide learners with numerous platforms to practice their skill outside the realm of traditional classrooms. Next, to illustrate some of these innovations, I will introduce various resources and tools that can help learners to independently develop their technical writing skills. These resources and tools provide learners with direct access to expert knowledge that goes far beyond that of a normal instructor. I will also briefly touch on some of the technologies that can empower learners when developing their speaking skills, focusing on speed, stress, intonation, and pronunciation. Then, I will conclude the presentation with a discussion on the future of technology in language education and how changes in technology might affect language program administration.