E. Torró Martínez, E. Lloret, P. Moreda

University of Alicante (SPAIN)
One of the biggest problems you find while learning a language, even if it is your mother tongue, is lecture comprehension. There is a field in computer science known as Natural Language Processing (NLP), which involve several techniques of natural language understanding, that is currently being used to help this kind of problems. For instance, text simplification approaches or human-computer interaction tools. However, these techniques are not applied currently in learning environments.

During the last years, new technologies have had a strong impact in education techniques that may broke the learning schemes we are used to. One of these techniques is Gamification, the use of game mechanics to motivate and engage people to achieve their learning goals by introducing interactivity, practice and challenges. Our target is to use the knowledge we have in NLP by making a learning application that uses gamification, which is something we have not seen before. We will explore how can we use both NLP and gamification together in the same application.

The purpose of this study is to design and develop an accessible web application, named Playlingua, to improve the language learning process and lecture comprehension through gamification. In the NLP area, we will mainly focus on text simplification approaches, some of which are derived from the FIRST project. At this stage, the different exercises proposed within the application are classified according to three levels of difficulty, and they are oriented to the acquisition and reinforcement of new vocabulary for a language. Although it might be thought that this application may only for students, it is not targeted to any particular group of people, but also it aims to be useful for anybody who wants to practice, improve and/or learn vocabulary in an easy and funny way – from children to adults, from users having reading comprehension impairments to people learning a new language. The user will be able to play wherever and whenever he wants, as well as play daily levels and face the different challenges, comparing the achieved score with friends and also in the social networks.

To increase the acceptance of the application, we will study the advantages and positive effects of gamification in learning applications and how it influences users in terms of motivation, engagement, learning quality and entertainment. Everything will be developed following the User Centered Design process, whose goal is to build applications based on User Experience (UX). In addition, we will study the latest trending web technologies in order to develop a platform that will be available for everyone, online and free.