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A WordNet-Based Near-Synonyms and Similar-Looking Word Learning System

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Journal of Educational Technology & Society Volume 14, Number 1, ISSN 1176-3647 e-ISSN 1176-3647


Near-Synonyms and Similar-Looking (NSSL) words can create confusion for English as Foreign Language Learners as a result of a type of lexical error that often occurs when they confuse similar-looking words that are near synonyms to have the same meaning. Particularly, this may occur if the similar-looking words have the same translated meaning. This study proposes a method to find these NSSL words and designed three experiments to investigate whether NSSL matching exercises could increase Chinese EFL learners' awareness of NSSL words. Three primary findings arose from the study. First, a performance evaluation of the experiment showed good results and determined that the method extracted suitable NSSL words whose meaning EFL learners may confuse. Secondly, the analysis results of the evaluation of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) software showed that this system is practical for language learning, but lacks authenticity. Thirdly, a total of ninety-two Chinese students participated in this study and the findings indicated that students increased awareness of NSSL words and improved in ability of NSSL word distinction while still maintaining the knowledge one month after they had completed the matching exercises. Additionally, students' feedback expressed that they had benefited from discovery learning and that they thought it was not difficult to discover the differences among NSSL words. Further research might extend the method proposed in this study to distracter choice of automatic question generation. (Contains 3 tables and 7 figures.)


Sun, K.T., Huang, Y.M. & Liu, M.C. (2011). A WordNet-Based Near-Synonyms and Similar-Looking Word Learning System. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(1), 121-134. Retrieved September 20, 2019 from .

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