According to the alarming findings of representative studies like leo., PIAAC or CiLL, a large percentage of the adult population in Germany has only limited reading skills. Moreover, a large number of immigrants currently living in Germany needs to acquire both basic reading and writing skills in order to be able to properly deal with everyday requirements of life in society. As the integration into society, the job system as well as a positive well-being requires the acquisition of sufficient competencies in the German language, appropriate language learning formats are highly demanded.
At the same time, appropriate language learning material is claimed to be authentical, connected to the learners’ interests as well as to their individual level of language competencies. Moreover, it needs to stimulate the learners’ language awareness and suit to the language learning needs of specific learners at the same time. Thus, appropriate language learning material needs to meet a lot of different demands.
To find language learning material that meets all of these requirements, language teachers often use the internet. Therefore, the project KANSAS aims at developing a search engine which supports teachers in adult literacy and German as a second language in identifying suitable language learning texts on the internet or in electronic corpora.
The interdisciplinary project KANSAS will be conducted together with computational linguists (University of Tübingen) and experts in didactics (Mercator Institute for Literacy and Language Education, University of Cologne). The project aims at developing, testing and evaluating the search engine KANSAS.
KANSAS is an instrument which supports teachers in adult literacy and German as a second language in identifying suitable language learning texts on the internet or in electronic corpora. Using KANSAS, teachers will be allowed to determine both the topic and the linguistically complexity of the texts to be found. Thus, the search engine will not only enable teachers to search language learning texts that fit to a certain topic but also to the individual level of competencies and the specific needs of their learners. In addition to that, it will be possible for teachers to upload self-developed texts in order to analyze the language complexity. Moreover, a simplified version will be developed which also enables learners to gain access to digital information resources.
To ensure, that KANSAS meets all of the various demands of good teaching practice, the project will be conducted in close collaboration with teachers in language learning courses for adults. Therefore, within the project duration several usability studies will be conducted via questionnaires and think-aloud surveys. The results of these structured surveys and quasi-experimental studies will be used to optimize the usability and usefulness of the search engine. At the end of the project, the final development version will be released and made available for free.
Teachers using the first prototype of the search engine KANSAS
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