In recent years, as people from around the world become more digitally connected, the importance of communication between people from different language backgrounds is also increasing. Thanks to technologies such as social media, messaging applications, and recent advances in machine translation tools, text-based conversations are one of the most used forms of communication between people of different native languages, either casually or formally. Not only emails, but more companies in Japan are also using messaging applications, such as Slack, as a company-wide communication channel. As a result, foreign language education has also increasingly become popular and in high demand. The integration of multimedia and advanced computing technologies to support language learning and teaching has been essential to both educators and learners. In this study, we seek to explore the practice of text-based conversations (or texting), a language aspect less explored than the others, such as grammar and speaking, using English as a foreign language (EFL) to support learners in Japan. This research develops and reports experimental results of a web application to help learners practice text-based conversation by providing an interactive platform to read, understand, and exercise texting in English by providing examples, quizzes, and hints. Moreover, we observe how some natural language processing techniques, such as neural machine translation and anaphoric zero pronoun resolution, can benefit both educators and learners by assisting when needed, thus, keeping them motivated to develop their communicative competence.
Andre Rusli, Tokyo Denki University, Japan
Makoto Shishido, Tokyo Denki University, Japan