Posts Tagged ‘proofing-tools’

Getting Eclipse CDT to spell check non-source files

  1. Problem:
    1. Using Eclipse Luna CDT, with C/C++ spelling engine, to document C and C++ code in Doxygen (Eclox plugin), image
    2. Spell check works for inline Doxygen documentation. My API-level code comments in *.[ch](pp)* files gets spell-checked alright (Well…:
      1. I had  to download a decent dictionary to avoid recommendation like this one: image. I am using the aspell dictionaries from here and here.  This is before a restart/recheck:image
      2. I still do not know how to teach the C++ spell check engine that a newline does not start a new sentence: image
      3. The oft-referred to menu: Edit / Spell check does not show up for me: image
    3. However, spell check ignores my standalone *.dox files with high-level documentation.
  2. What I have tried:
    1. Telling Eclipse about the*.dox file type: image
    2. Associating *.dox files with the Doxyfile editor: image. Fail. This tool from the Eclox plugin seems to help only with the editing of the Doxygen config file. image
    3. Associating *.dox files with C/C++-editor: image Fail: has no effect.
  3. Workaround:
    1. Terrible, but since a similar question is still open on stackoverflow): If you can (*.dox requires all comments to be within c-style comments anyway), rename your *.dox files to *.dox.cpp. Terrible, but works: image
    2. A bit less terrible if you mange to store your standalone *.dox files as *.dox.cpp permanently do this if you get your Doxygen to handle these extensions.
    3. What is nice to see is that the spell-checker  recognizes Doxygen’s built-in reserved words (as opposed to my custom-defined Doxygen-commands). image
  4. Other things to try:
    1. I could not get Hunspell4Eclipse to work, despite going to considerable trouble getting the marketplace into my Eclipse installation
    2. I have not tried eSpell.

Learn and teach writing in your second language on


Improving language learning with technology for me seems to have 2 avenues: AI and human intelligence. Automated feedback on writing provided by proofing tools – even if they have become smarter and more contextual to spot (in MS-Word 2007 and up) common errors like your/you’re or their/there – makes one wonder about the feasibility of the former. But that automated essay-scoring tools which have been developed and deployed (at least for ESL) claim to score similarly as teachers makes one wonder about much more… Correcting writing remains expensive!

So may be we should look into crowd-sourced writing correction which needs no cutting edge NLP, only well-understood WWW-infrastructural technology to connect interested parties, but requires social engineering to attract and keep good contributors (and a viable business model  to stay afloat: This site seems freemium).

Reading online comments and postings in your native language makes one wonder: can language teachers be replaced by crowdsourcing? I became aware of this the language learning website that offers peer correction of writing input by native-speaker through a language learner corpus. I have not thoroughly evaluated the site, but the fact that its data is being used by SLA researchers here ( seems a strong indicator that the work done on the website is of value.

To judge by the numbers accompanying the corpus (it is a snapshot from 2010, a newer version is available however on request), these are the most-represented L2 on  image

Free German online proofing tool by Duden

  1. Don’t have MS-Word Proofing Tools, and can’t come to the LRC which has proofing tools for German and many other languages installed?
  2. Try Duden’s (= authoritative German dictionary publisher, and nowadays much more) free (up to 800 characters at a time; a time-limited (=30 days add-in for MS-Word is also availableOnline version:image
  3. Use it wisely: Learning is not cheating. But please consult your teacher whether this is legitimate help. 
  4. Now how’s the quality? Drop us a comment below.

Exam integrity considerations during mock and proctored written exams in the LRC

The easiest way to hold a mock or proctor a written exam in the LRC is provide the students a printout of the exam. For larger classes preparing, and under some circumstances (writing impediment due to injury), providing the MS-Word file on a computer to the student would seem a more convenient solution.

However, the LRC prides itself in the large collection of MS-Office proofing tools it has installed and preconfigured – accessing which from within MS-Word could be construed as cheating during a writing exam. As a matter of fact, since MS-Word auto-detects language, under-waving of misspelled words and incorrect Grammar provides unsolicited and unavoidable extra help.

MS-Office proofing tools could be turned off by using a special MS-word template as the basis for the exam. Easier and quicker is using the SANAKO which can not only block internet access of the examined students, but also block use of entire applications like MS-Word.

Instead of in MS-Word, your students could write their responses in an application that is not part of the proofing tools infrastructure, like Notepad. Western language diacritics can easily be written  in any application on LRC PCs thanks to US-International keyboard layout, and non-Western characters even easier than on paper.

For full security, the best environment for exams we can offer remains Respondus lockdown browser, integrated with Moodle, but this requires converting the exam to into a Moodle quiz (which Respondus has tools to facilitate).  In certain cases, it might be easiest to create a “dummy” quiz with one long text input field, which your students could type everything in, without having access to any other resources (internet, proofing tools, chat, what not…). However, this quiz still would have to be  in your Moodle course so that your students can access access, and their results get put into your gradebook.

Outside of Moodle – if you do not want to go down the Respondus-path – , you can rely on the SANAKO homework collection feature and my langlabemailer to receive the results.

Japanese Language Tools (Proofing, dictionary, furigana) in the LRC MS-Office 2010 installation

  1. Even if not showing in MS-Word’s Language selector),
    1. image
    2. clip_image002
  2. Even though there is no Japanese Thesaurus: clip_image003
  3. There are these tools:
    1. In the Research pane, "English Assistance: Japanese"  (in the ribbon / "Review" tab, Proofing section, press the clip_image004 , then  ALT-Click a character to start a lookup: 
    2. clip_image005
    3. a Japanese  Consistency Checker:clip_image006
    4. Furigana:
      1. To enable: clip_image007
      2. Result (in view / Web layout):  clip_image008
      3. Incidentally, my blog has not quite made it into the TOP 5 of MSW-Office help content: clip_image009
  4. In addition, for Office, but also beyond, there are the tools of the MS-Office Input method editor (which include dictionary help when you write): clip_image010

LRC Fall 2013 announcements

  1. The LRC has upgraded to Windows 7 and Office 2010.
    1. Benefits:
      1. Your students can use the computer interface from the default English to  about 20 languages, including non-Western.
      2. Your students can also use speech recognition (in English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish), e.g. for dictation exercises (Example videos:  very bad French, decent German). Students can train the computers to their voice and take their training data with them.  I’d love to explore with you possibilities for pronunciation practice with automated intelligent feedback .
      3. Your students can use old and new MS-Office Proofing tools.
    1. Caveat:  W are still trying to restore some former functionality (e.g. no Google Arabic, Farsi and Russian IME etc.). Please bear with us while we deal with the new college tech infrastructure. 
  1. The LRC has upgraded its Sanako digital audio lab software.
    1. Because of budgetary constraints, our software agreement had to end  with version 5 . This summer, the vendor presented us with a free upgrade to version 7, with compliments for my blog posts about using the Sanako.
    2. Benefits:  We decided to implement the upgrade lest you and your students need relearn in the middle of the academic year and since Version 7 adds valuable language learning :  which I would love to explore with you: Vocabulary exercises  and Pronunciation exercises which  make use of the computerized text-to-speech capabilities we just implemented with windows 7
    3. Caveats:
      1. We are still trying to restore the old Sanako configuration. E.g. Pairing recording is not working currently.
      2. I hope to upgrade my LanglabEmailer software to support the new version after the term is underway.
  1. For students attending distance classes with Saba Centra in the LRC, microphone audio on listening stations fixed, no more 30 minute delay  when joining class.
  1. UNCC is upgrading to Moodle 2. The CTL is investigating how the LRC Metacourses for audio materials I created can be converted to Moodle 2. If you need the audio materials from the metacourses,  we can help you upload them into your individual courses temporarily. 
  1. Classroom AV: We found a temporary workaround for the projector image quality and are investigating permanent solutions. Currently no VHS video and doc cam display during classes  (we would love to  scan your text anyway and distribute them digitally).
  2. LRC Calendars and Booking:
    1. In the LRC Room and Equipment List, your will notice some new film studies equipment (calendars requested from ITS).
    2. We added new calendars to the Quicklinks on LRC home pageTutors and LRC assistants. Please keep checking how we fill these open positions over the next few weeks, and use the help they can offer you.
    3. When booking, you can
      1. get help at the LRC reception desk;
      2. book yourself  from anywhere,
      3. or have your “delegate” book (planned; setup requested from ITS).
  1. I will continue next week with the biweekly Sanako Clinic to aid teachers with their LRC class preparation. Please consult the LRC calendar if you want to drop in, or reschedule one with me for your needs.
  2. I am also offering LRC introductions for your class during the week 2 and 3 on a “first-come, first-served” basis, and à la carte (I suggest consulting a one-sheet menu with an overview  of LRC facilities that I am  preparing.) Please let me know if you are interested.

Our Office 2010 natural language features upgrade: A running log

2011/09/15 1 comment
  1. Just logging some notes, observations, issues, step-by-step instructions… – other than non-natural-language, most collaboration features, which are being logged here.
  2. Office 2010 proofing tools (proofing-tools2010-install.wmv),:
    1. again, we select custom install, “run all from Computers”
    2. install is extensive, but uneventful
  3. Office 2010 proofing tools (proofing-tools2010-first-run-German-set-language.wmv), first run:
    1. German is not autodetected. You have to set the language of the selected text manually, and first find the button on the ribbon:reviewing
    2. While choosing the language, you can see from the checkmark which languages now have proofing tools installed
  4. Foreign Language Support
    1. One of the strongest benefits of upgrading to MS-Office 2010 in the language center is the improved foreign language support licensing for so called “Language Packs”, and that we have a complete set of licenses to the MS-Proofing Tools.
    2. In addition MS-Office supports free download of so called “Language interface packs” which seem essentially downscaled language packs for LCTL (usually come only with (see feature list) a spell checker and help in the language). Compare: “If a language is available in a language pack or as a fully localized version, it is not available as a language interface pack”.
    3. Unfortunately multi-user (= learner of different language) support is not the primary usage scenario of these tools. It is, however, possible, to set the language to a default (e.g. Spanish, Arabic or Chinese, depending on your environment). Switching to another language is relatively easy for a user
      1. changing the screen-tip language:

Free Farsi Proofing Tools available: VafaSpellchecker

Unfortunately, the VafaSpellchecker Proofing Tools are now not available anymore for Office 2010. The links to the Office 2010 on the website have been broken for a long time, the developer seems to have left the university, the project manager has not answered my inquiry. Here is hoping they will be resurrected.

Even though proofing tools are neither designed for non-native language learners nor, traditionally, used  in a pedagogically sound way by language learners without proper guidance, they form one of the greatest opportunities to apply advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to second language acquisition (SLA) tasks, given that they are a widely installed and commonly understood artificial intelligence providing automated feedback on natural language issues.

The management and licensing of proofing tools has been much improved since MS-Office 2007 which made it easier (and cheaper) to install modular proofing support for additional languages distributed as Language Packs.

However, in an SLA context, even this may still not be a convincing value proposition, whether for the personal computers of individual student learners, or even – due to apparent the lack of concurrent licensing options within proofing tools –   for Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) in an imaged computer lab environment (in our case, we would need to purchase 45 licenses à $25 before tax for a language that may have about half as many learners or less).

All the more welcome are  freely downloadable add-ons- – thanks to the MS-Office platform extensibility – the VafaSpellchecker, a Persian Spell&grammar and real-word error checking system by the Natural Language and Text Processing Laboratory in University of Tehran, funded by Iranian Research Institute for ICT, available for both MS-Office 2003 and 2007. A VafaSpellchecker user guide (in Farsi) is also available.


As always with NLP in SLA, caveat emptor, use with a grain of salt, or two.