We have been developing a system that checks and provides information about the words and sentences that learners use when they practice speaking English. In this study, we investigated the role of a subjective difficulty rating to identify sentences that were problematic for the learners by using our system. In the experiment, 72 Japanese university students were provided with 47 Japanese sentences and their English translations in advance of review quizzes. We instructed them to practice speaking the English translations without looking at the text information. This system,then asked them to translate the Japanese sentences into English. Then a self-reflective questionnaire was administered and participants rated the difficulty of each sentence on a five-point Likert scale. The average difficulty ratings of the 31 sentences that were answered correctly by more than 80% of the students varied from 1.7 to 4.2. Even though most students answered the questions correctly, they did not regard all the correctly answered sentences as easy. The standard deviation scores of the difficulty ratings of each sentence varied from 0.9 to 1.4. The difficulty ratings of some sentences were different for individual students. These results suggest that a subjective difficulty rating could play a role in observing how students actually feel about the difficulty levels of the sentences in the system, and could identify their individual weaknesses. Incorporating this kind of subjective difficulty rating into the system could help generate useful information for selecting the sentences within the system that suit individual student needs.
Harumi Kashiwagi, Kobe University, Japan
Min Kang, Kobe University, Japan
Kazuhiro Ohtsuki, Kobe University, Japan
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