By Keith Cameron
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Extra info for Computer Assisted Language Learning: Programme Structure and Principles
From this they were able to tabulate with a great deal of precision the number of masculine and feminine nouns for each of several hundred suffixes. On the basis of these findings, they were able to predict what gender French speakers would normally assign to nouns, common or uncommon, real or made up, according to their endings. They tested these predictions on native speakers and found that whilst the gender of common nouns is learned to the point where native speakers automatically know the gender, the gender of unknown or made up nouns is worked out using a number of heuristics-rules of thumb.
This again would provide an excellent means of extending a particular lexical area and < previous page page_34 next page > < previous page page_35 next page > Page 35 providing learners with a constructive reason for doing so. It is only when such an authoring possibility is provided that the full potential of computer-based materials can be exploited. (b) Programs such as Wordsort are particularly amenable to the type of authoring just described. An activity such as Chameleon, another of the phases in the vocabulary development module of Venturereader, would not be so easily susceptible to changes within the listing and would in fact require a prepared authoring package because it involves text processing.
Little effort would be required to change all four categories, and the items found within them, to allow a teacher to adapt Wordsort to any reading material s/he might be using. Even if a user-friendly authoring package cannot be provided with such programs (although the goal would always to be to make one available), it is straightforward enough to describe simply the means by which the program can be altered in the above way. Indeed, a productive activity can involve the learners themselves providing the items for the database in order to create a further activity for other learners.