[RNLD] List or review of language apps

Aidan Pine aidanpine at shaw.ca
Fri Feb 24 02:36:47 EST 2017

Hi all,

I'm new to this list but this is an area that really interests me as well. I'm a linguist and developer and have been working on a dictionary app called Waldayu (www.waldayu.org) and we'll be rolling out dictionary apps for around 10 Indigenous languages spoken in Canada over the next couple of months in collaboration with FirstVoices and UBC. We also have some other projects starting in Nepal and the US, but none in Australia so I apologize for not being totally relevant to the original poster, although I think there are definitely shared challenges with language revitalization in Canada & Australia. Check out www.waldayu.org/lilwat and www.waldayu.org/lilwat/web_test for (in-testing) samples.

We wanted to make an app that could be used online or offline for Android, iOS and the web and was able to anticipate some of the challenges users face when looking up entries in a dictionary, (lack of orthographic/phonological knowledge, inability to type certain "special" characters, multiple orthographies etc). In line with what John mentioned, we're adamant about these apps being intended to complement existing language revitalization efforts, not replace them. We're also interested in trying to create some evaluative, quantifiable methods (likely leveraging Google Analytics) for determining the app's "success" in the way you discuss it, Ben. It seems like with support for many languages using the same app we might be in a unique position to look into this. 

I still feel a little funny about using Google Analytics, so I would want to have an explicit option to give permission for the app to collect anonymous data. Finding out how often users use the app after first launch would be useful as you say. The app employs an approximate search algorithm as well that is customizable for each language and records the edit distance between the query and entries in the dictionary. What we would also like to do is perhaps track whether a user's queries improve over time - i.e. whether their queries have a smaller edit distance over time or not. I'd be interested to hear or discuss what other statistics folks might find interesting. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Ben Foley [mailto:ben at cbmm.io] 
Sent: February 24, 2017 2:25 PM
To: r-n-l-d at lists.unimelb.edu.au; John Hobson <john.hobson at sydney.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [RNLD] List or review of language apps

Hi John

I haven't come across research into the effectiveness of these apps for language learning. I agree, it would be great to know. Imagine if, when apps are made, some sort of evaluation is included in the project, to pick up even some of the knowledge of whether they are used after the first launch, let alone whether they achieve any sort of success in terms of learning over time. And this knowledge shared so that other groups could learn from what works, what doesn't. It seems that this sort of observation is difficult under the common funding that lots of these app builds are done, where the money must be spent in a year. It can be difficult to get a long-term vision from funding agencies. Perhaps one of the schools/universities/peak bodies/centres of excellence would be well placed for such a study? Any takers?


> On 24 Feb 2017, at 16:12, Mark <ellentreow at internode.on.net> wrote:
> Thank you, John, for this most pertinent observation.
> Mark.
> On 24/02/17 16:38, John Hobson wrote:
>> It would be of great interest if someone were to undertake empirical research on the effectiveness of these apps. Do people actually learn (better) from them? I tend to see a lot of finger action and reading, but precious little oral communication taking place when people use them. It might be more productive to get people to use their phones to have conversations with native speakers.
>> Regards,
>> John
>> JOHN HOBSON | Lecturer
>> Director, Graduate Indigenous Education Programs
>> Sydney School of Education & Social Work                        
>> Rm 711, Education Building A35
>> The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006     
>> T +61 2 9351 6994 | F +61 2 9351 6924 E john.hobson at sydney.edu.au W 
>> Staff Profile | Patyegarang, Indigenous Australian languages 
>> education
>> "Language is the DNA of a culture, and it is the vehicle for the traditions, customs, stories, history, and beliefs of a people.
>> A lost language is a lost culture.” US National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman, Bruce Cole, (2005).
>> <Mail Attachment.png>
>> CRICOS 00026A
>> This email plus any attachments to it is confidential. Any unauthorised use is strictly prohibited. 
>> If you receive this email in error, please delete it and any attachments. 
>> Please think of our environment and only print this e-mail if necessary.
>> On 24/2/17, 2:27 pm, "Ben Foley" <ben at cbmm.io> wrote:
>> Hi Samantha
>> I've shared a list of some that I came across while working on 'Angkety Map', the First Languages Australia digital resources report. I'll clean up the list a little, and check that links are still valid.
>> The list is on Google Drive here: 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/1RkEBaHaeepDcE?domain=goo.gl
>> The report is here: 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/V810B2Sw88qDS9?domain=firstlanguage
>> s.org.au
>> regards,
>> Ben
>> On 21 Feb 2017, at 17:42, Margaret Carew <margaret.carew at batchelor.edu.au> wrote:
>> Hi – looks like you’re the one compiling the list!
>> Here is an article about the Getting in Touch project
>> http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24645
>> Here is a PDF of some slides from a talk last year 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/5vYEBwtn88gDC7?domain=dropbox.com
>> And some info on our website about books with apps 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/gn98BxSK44l2Fa?domain=call.batchelo
>> r.edu.au 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/oDLrBgcvkkQEcv?domain=call.batchelo
>> r.edu.au These are built on the Jila framework, which was developed 
>> by Thoughtworks for Yawuru 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/AG1dBvTZ22XdcQ?domain=itunes.apple.
>> com
>> Cheers, MC
>> Dr Margaret Carew
>> Linguist, CALL
>> Division of Higher Education and Research Batchelor Institute – 
>> Desert People’s Centre campus
>> tel: 08 8951 8344 | 0422 418 559
>> email: margaret.carew at batchelor.edu.au | 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/38LEBkSpXXeAH8
>> <2B5F40B5-4E8F-4409-A584-17704AE7BB95[6].png>
>> Both-Ways Tertiary Education and Research
>> From: Britt Jacobsen <brittjacobsen at yahoo.com.au>
>> Reply-To: Britt Jacobsen <brittjacobsen at yahoo.com.au>
>> Date: Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 4:48 PM
>> To: Samantha Disbray <Samantha.Disbray at cdu.edu.au>, 
>> "r-n-l-d at unimelb.edu.au" <r-n-l-d at unimelb.edu.au>
>> Subject: Re: [RNLD] List or review of language apps Yaama Samantha I 
>> use the Gamilaraay app 'Ma!' - 
>> https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/q0YmBAt8EE6RuK?domain=itunes.apple.
>> com
>> Britt
>> From: Samantha Disbray <Samantha.Disbray at cdu.edu.au>
>> To: "r-n-l-d at unimelb.edu.au" <r-n-l-d at unimelb.edu.au>
>> Sent: Tuesday, 21 February 2017, 13:07
>> Subject: [RNLD] List or review of language apps Hi there Has anyone 
>> compiled a list or review of language apps in use for Australian languages?
>> All responses appreciated and will be passed on to a Central Australian group keen to get an overview of what’s out there and effective for languages teaching and learning – for ages 3-adult.
>> Thanks
>> Samantha Disbray
> --
> Mark Clendon
> +61 8 8388 2584

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