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October 12, 2004

NICT, ALC Develop Software To Evaluate English Conversation

The National Institute of Information & Communications Technology (NICT) has developed software to evaluate students' English conversation abilities, in a tie-up with ALC Press Inc., a language-education publishing company. Capable of evaluating a person's abilities in nine stages, the software is useful particularly in Internet-based remote-education services.

The software converts conversation into text data for grammatical verification, such as the use of definite articles. The check is conducted by comparing the data with a database containing English conversations by 1,300 people. However, because of the conversion into text data, the software cannot evaluate whether accent, intonation and the fluency are correct, according to sources close to the matter. The software's evaluation reliability is about 60%, almost the same as the reliability of the average Japanese English teacher. NICT and ALC aim to put the product into practical use in one or two years, the sources said. (The Nihon Keizai Shimbun)

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