JEARN Support Team
The goal of this project is to invigorate community activity.
Today, numerous communities participate in international activities. The key to the success of these activities is that people all over the world can communicate in words or exchange information. However, there are often communication problems because the official language of the community is not the first language of the participants.
JEARN is a non-profit organization and the Japanese representative of the organizations of iEARN (International Education and Resource Network), the world's biggest international educational network. Participating schools from various countries at the Natural Disaster Youth Summit worked on online collaborative learning with the theme of "Let's Create Global Disaster Safety Map." They used video conferencing and English BBS for communication.
However, students and teachers who did not use English as in Japan, Taiwan or Senegal had difficulty in writing English messages on the chat screen at video conference or BBS.
They now use the Langrid Input to translate their messages in their native languages into English. The tool has made collaboration possible.
The following is an explanation of Langrid Input tool that is used to support them.
Langrid Input: the text inputting tool that uses multilingual translation.
What is Langrid Input?
Langrid Input is offered as a language grid tool and is the tool that translates multilingual texts and supports text inputting. For example, when a person with low English ability wants to send an email in English, all that they need to do is input their native language into this tool. Furthermore, writing email is a stress-free process because the user can read a back translation and check whether the English sentence has been correctly translated or not. In addition, by registering a dictionary of terms related to a specific community, technical terms can be correctly translated and the quality of the translation is much higher.
After we have received them from the Langrid Input, the translated sentences are input with a single click.
The use of Langrid Input in JEARN
Communication with children overseas
They used video conferencing and an English BBS to communicate at the Natural Disaster Youth Summit. However, students and teachers who did not use English, (e.g., people in Japan, Taiwan, and Senegal) had difficulty writing English messages on the chat screen. They now use the Langrid Input tool to translate their messages from their native languages into English, so they can communicate more easily.
Information flow using Langrid Input
The above figure shows the flow of information that takes place using Langrid Input. First, the student makes the message sentence and inputs the message to the input screen of the word processor or the machine translation. Next, he translates the message into English by machine translation. The part of this machine translation is done using Langrid Input. Finally, he uses the translated sentences as messages that are written in the electric forum (BBS) and are used presentation resource to send information and communicate.
How do the international exchange programs using Langrid Input affect the children participating in them?
These programs of exchange with overseas schools have significantly changed the way that children think about how they use English. The figure below shows the result of the questionnaire before and after class. To see the change in students' attitudes before they began the class (September, 2006) and after it had ended (February, 2007), we investigated students' attitudes about the culture of a foreign country twice. Each item in the questionnaire has five possible responses: 「3」is the middle one, 「1」?「2」are low-ranking ones, and 「4」?「5」 are high-ranking ones. The results of the questionnaire which was got bofore the exchange project was held showed that overall the students do not have enough confidence in their English ability. On the other hand, in the questionnaire that they did again after the exchange program, though the item "Confidence in communicating with others" rose by only 0.1 points, the item "Are you good at communicating in English?" rose from 1.4 to 2.1 points, a difference of 0.7 points.
As a result, students' thoughts on communicating in English has improved through communications and exchange using Langrid Input. However, it should be noted that the change in attitude to the four English skills was not so much. Also, in the questionnaire that asked for a free description of the program, there were a lot of positive opinions on the exchange with foreign countries such as 'I wanted to do more exchanges' and 'I was happy to do even if I did not understand English'. However, there was some dissatisfaction with the fact that machine translation was unable to translate precisely into Japanese and also with the difficulty of the setting the machine translation software. These technical problems should be solved in the future.
Voice of JEARN
Board of JEARN, National Disaster Youth Summit (NDYS): Yoshie Naya
Japanese elementary school children and high school students at the Natural Disaster Youth Summit communicate with their peers around the world using the Language Grid. I hear many positive comments from students like "It was amazing", "It's fun", "interesting" or "it can easily translate texts into English and I can enjoy communication." It would take too long and they would have trouble communicating If they had to write all messages in English on their own. Using the Language Grid helps clearer communication. High school students use the tool in their own way. They try to write as many English sentence as they can, then only use the Language Grid for parts they cannot express. I hope this can also be used as an English learning tool in the future.
SIG (Special Interest Group)