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Rich cloudy content

In this post I outline the technologies I used to create a prototype for the system I describe here.

As I mention in the post outlining the idea, I strongly believe that a content consumption aid like this is only going to be useful if it is available on all content consumption devices, and if all the interactions with the system have a minimum of friction. Since the original post where I had developed a Google Chrome browser plugin and had the server-side stuff running on my laptop, I have moved the server applications to the (Alibaba) Cloud and ported the browser extension to Firefox. I also created a basic interface for interacting with the lexical database that is much easier to use for adding new words than using standard Anki. These are now live and I am using them to help my own learning.
Server-side The system currently has 3 major components, all of which are currently installed on a single 4GB VM on Alibaba's cloud in their Hong Kong data centre. I am currently in Yunnan…
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Deeply personalised L2 content consumption

Preface
In this blogpost I outline what I believe to be a novel use of existing technologies to dramatically increase the useful content available to learners of a second language. I introduce myself then follow with an outline of some relevant developmental and educational principles. From there I analyse the system requirements and present the system, and finally take a look at the opportunities for future research and development.

For a more detailed look on the philosophical differences between my proposed system and existing tools, see my blogpost here.
Introduction For my 40th birthday I decided to take a sabbatical year and tick off one of the big remaining items on my bucket list - learn Chinese. I had started learning Chinese during my Linguistics degree 20 years ago but fate took me to Europe and life as a software engineer, and not only did I not get very far with Chinese, I completely forgot what I had learnt all those years ago. The only character I could actively identi…

Content is King

Preface
In this post I look at the existing NLP-enabled L2 content tools for learning Chinese referred to in Lee, Lam and Jiang (2016) and evaluate the philosophical differences with the system I propose here. Most of the research I refer to here is referenced in their paper and I discovered it from there.
Introduction Learners of a second language are faced with the daunting task of learning the meanings and usage of 10s of thousands of new words and phrases. This requires the learner to be very highly motivated - it takes years and thousands of hours to master a second written language. Understanding how to motivate L2 learners using has been the subject of much research (for example), and one of the key findings of this research is that allowing the learners to consume material that aligns with their personal interests greatly improves outcomes.
Content vs Learning I think it is intuitively obvious that it is easier to motivate learners when they are able to learn using content th…