An Application of Natural Language Processing to Web-based Language Learning


  • Noriko Nagata University of San Francisco



Intelligent Language Tutor, Natural Language Processing, Parsing, Japanese, World Wide Web


This paper presents BANZAI, a new intelligent language tutor program developed by the author over the past two years. The BANZAI application is programmed in Java and runs in a web browser over the Internet. It is designed to develop learners' grammatical and sentence production skills in Japanese as well as to instill cultural knowledge about Japan. It handles Japanese characters so learners can read and produce sentences in kana and kanji. More importantly, BANZAI employs artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technology, which enables the program to read, parse, and correct sentences typed by learners. The NLP analyzer consists of a lexicon, a morphological generator, a word segmentor, a morphological parser, a syntactic parser, an error detector, and a feedback generator. The first section of this paper provides an overview of BANZAI's capability. The second and third sections briefly describe each component of the NLP analyzer and explain how the system handles student errors. The fourth section illustrates actual lessons and sample exercises provided by BANZAI. The program has been integrated into the Japanese curriculum at the University of San Francisco since the autumn of 2000. Questionnaire results indicate an enthusiastic student response.

Author Biography

Noriko Nagata, University of San Francisco

Noriko Nagata (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is Associate Professor and the Director of the Japanese program at the University of San Francisco. She teaches Japanese language, linguistics, and culture courses. Her research involves the development of intelligent CALL programs employing natural language processing. Her publications include descriptions of her CALL programs and a series of empirical studies examining the effectiveness of various CALL features in second language acquisition.


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How to Cite

Nagata, N. (2013). BANZAI: An Application of Natural Language Processing to Web-based Language Learning. CALICO Journal, 19(3), 583–599.