What is EasyReader?
EasyReader is a multi-purpose Irish language tool for the Personal Computer. It’s a dictionary, a grammar, a pronunciation tutor, an editor for written Irish text, a translation aid, and a framework for creating complete lessons for learners. Whatever tool the user needs, EasyReader is useful partner for learning, practicing, using, and gaining proficiency in the Irish language. EasyReader is designed for continuous growth via its ever-expanding dictionary and thesaurus. It is a lifetime investment that can always be current. EasyReader’s lasting utility is best described by its website name www.irishforlife.com
EasyReader’s dictionary contains some 36,000 Irish-to-English and 52,000 English-to-Irish entries. But what makes this dictionary unique is a feature that enables it to yield the correct response - with just a click – not only for head words (i.e., word contained in the ER dictionary) but for any form of a head word that is queried. For example when the the word cat appears in one of its other forms of chait, cait, gcat, ER recognizes these forms as extensions of the head word and connects to cat.
EasyReader’s dictionary may be queried from any text regardless of source, whether within EasyReader, or displayed in an Internet Browser, a Word Processor, or E-mail program.
If a word is not in the dictionary, EasyReader will post it to a file for user emailing, editing and updating of the master dictionary at irishforlife.com. Updates will be made available for downloading to all users. Futhermore, when ER has responded to a word query. a single additional click will yield an answer from one of two on-line dictionaries, currently
Focal.ie or Acmhainn.ie, Focal.ie.
The dictionary can also be browsed in regular fashion by scrolling and clicking. Regardless of the method of look-up EasyReader will log the transaction for later study and review, if a user so chooses.
In addition to conventional grammar presentations, EasyReader displays grammar in context by including the basic grammar of an interrogated word as well as its meaning. Thus an interrogation of the word mholfaimis, the answer would state that this was the 1st person plural of the conditional mood of the verb mol, meaning to praise. A further click reveals the complete conditional mood forms – with their meanings – for the verb mol, which in this example would be we would praise. If desired, the user can click to mine even further into any part of that verb’s conjugation.
Thus, in one stroke, EasyReader combines the resources of both dictionary and grammar to present full knowledge of a word and how it is used. EasyReader’s response is quick and help is always just a click away.
A pronunciation tutor……..
Today’s most accepted way to practice proper pronunciation in a language being learned is to repeatedly listen to a word or phrase being spoken in that language, followed by recording one’s own voice, mimicking the expert sounds, and comparing the two. This method has been streamlined by EasyReader pronunciation tutor, which allows the user to practice pronouncing thousands of head words, plus work with a great number of professionally-spoken Irish passages. The user can listen to the words and passages with unlimited repeats, and make unlimited recordings for comparison.
There are some 75 passages contained in EasyReader, mostly prose, each lasting 2 minutes or more. These passages were recorded by professional voices that illustrate the distinctions among the three major Irish dialects. As the passages are spoken, the associated text is displayed. The user has the ability to pause and repeat any desired interval at will; she may also record all or part of these readings
About 4700 head words currently contained in EasyReader’s dictionary are recorded in each dialect. When any form of these words is interrogated, the user may, as well as viewing its definition and grammar, optionally hear the word sound in a selected dialect. The user can also command the pronunciation tutor to play these words serially ), so that each word is being displayed and pronounced every 1.5 seconds. Or, she may set timers so that she can record in a particular sound cadence. For example, she can opt to see a word displayed in yellow for .5 seconds, and then, while it is green for the next 1.5 seconds, she speaks the word and records it. Then the tutor moves right on to the next word, all performed in precise cadence.
Another pronunciation drill is to hear the spoken word and then to visualize it without physically seeing it as text. This encourages the user become accustomed to what he recognizes by sound, not sight. For this task EasyReader contains a utility called dictation that allows him to select one of several phrases that he listens to as often as needed before attempting to write it down (This is a teacher driven exercize. ER provides the mechanism and a few examples.)
An editor and helper as you write……..
Every language has its “quirks,” i.e., grammatical constructions, idiomatic expressions, and cultural influences that make it unique. When learning to write in Irish, in addition to acquiring a new vocabulary, the non-native speaker faces three main challenges:
- finding the right words to match the thoughts being expressed;
- spelling the words correctly and applying their correct grammatical form;
- learning to express thoughts the “Irish way,” as opposed to word-for-word translation from the English or other language.
Anticipating these hurdles, ER has devised certain techniques to aid non-native Irish speakers as they practice expressing their own thoughts in Irish for speaking and writing.
- If the Irish word isn’t known, with the dictionary direction being English to Irish, the writer may proceed in several ways. One way is to type the English word into the Irish sentence and interrogate it in standard fashion. If there is only one Irish word in the dictionary for it, the Answer box will contain the standard Irish word returns. If more than one, a list of other translated words will appear in a possibilities list, one of which will appear in the Answer box. Clicking any of the possibilities will yield standard answers. This method has the added advantage in that selection of any returned word(s) in the Answer box will replace the English word in the text.
- To verify a grammar construct, a click of the Irish word will yield the answer and the grammar trail in the Answer box. For example, if the word were a verb, the verb window would be displayed, illustrating the verb part that was queried. If the word were determined to be incorrect, the next step would be to identify the correct form. After that form is selected, the original word would be replaced by the correct one in the queried text.
- ER will also spell-check a user’s document. For each word determined to be incorrect ER returns a list of possibilities. Any of the possibilities may be selected to replace the word in error. If further verification is required, each of these possibilities may in turn be interrogated in an attempt to find the right one.
- Each time a word is interrogated, the Answer box will contain a link to any phrase or idiom in ER’s data base which contain that word. This facility, in maturity, will become one of the most important features of ER. See Author’s comments on the importance of user participation.
A wizard to help create the perfect lesson……..
A lesson designed with ER help -- and according to its rules – will have the following single characteristic: It will be totally self-contained. The student will not have to seek information beyond the lesson content itself to meet fully the lesson’s objectives.
For example, consider a lesson that requires students to read and understand an extract of prose from a specific author, then critique it and demonstrate what has been learned from the lesson. In preparation, the lesson author/instructor would introduce the lesson, declare its objectives and points of emphasis, and offer her own opinion of the content.
Then with the help of the lesson wizard, she inserts links to answers for any possible relevant question a student might pose. A link will be an underlined word in the lesson text which when clicked will present a box with the answer.
To master the lesson, every student, despite his/her ability level, would normally encounter potential difficulties:
- “I don’t understand some of the words”
EasyReader’s dictionary to the rescue. Fast. Tedium eliminated.
- “Who is the author? What is the background that makes the extract meaningful? Are there historical implications”
The lesson author has anticipated these questions and with the help of lesson wizard has ensured that student clicks of the appropriate links (e.g., text author’s name) will present him with the answers.
- “I know the word(s) but the translation doen’t make sense”.
Anticipated and linked to the correct answer by the author, courtesy of the EasyReader wizard.
- “EasyReader can’t give me an answer to a word query”
The word is archaic, is foreign, the grammar is non-standard. An easy one for the lesson author to create the proper cue and answer.
- “I want to hear certain parts and be able to record them”
With EasyReader’s lesson wizard’s guidance the lesson author makes the necessary cues and recordings
- “What am I expected to have an opinion on, and what topics should I expect to be discussed at our next formal class (discussion)?”
This should be stated by the lesson author and will constitute the student to-do list.
The lesson author anticipates all the questions raised in points 2 through 5. Using EasyReader’s lesson wizard, she then creates cues/links in the form of underlined words, each one letting the student know that it is a link to information. When the lesson author creates a cue the Wizard invites her to compose the response that the student will experience when the cue’d word(s) is (are) interrogated. This may take the form of reference material, an explanation, a translation, or a sound. In the latter case, the student will be given the choice of listening to the lesson author’s recording, or making or listening to his own recording.
In this way each student can fulfill the lesson objectives by proceeding at his own pace, and in effect, by asking only the questions to which he seeks asnwers. The traditional classroom role of a teacher (i.e., teaching content), with its additional challenge of doing so to a spectrum of student capability, is greatly reduced and would evolve to the higher level of being a moderator, an enabler of discussion, a counselor, a motivator, indeed, to becoming the ideal teacher.
The procedure for implementing the instructions of EasyReader’s lesson wizard are simple and straightforward. The challenge is to anticipate the questions.
EasyReader as translator……..
The facilities so far mentioned all contribute to making EasyReader a translator’s must-have. Where nuance of expression is key, EasyReader provides a thesaurus capability. When a word is interrogated and answered, a further click can display any or all phrases and idioms in which that word appears in ER’s data base. This is one of the growth facilities of EasyReader and one which may be accelerated by user feedback to carry EasyReader to its full potential.
Who can use EasyReader?
The program is directed to support user levels from beginners to secondary students and beyond, and particularly for adults attempting to regain a lost fluency. Although the entry level for EasyReader requires some basic knowledge of the language, it may be used for younger children if teacher written exercises, with lots of pictures and sound, appropriate to that level, are provided. EasyReader’s lesson wizard is ideally suited to the point, click/link activity to which youngster are proving themselves quite adept. Also, the Special Readings and Phrases/Search facilities, are ideal for this type of activity. Point and click, of course, may be used with any teacher prepared text.
For every work session, for every use, and for every user level, EasyReader has eased the way toward a faster and more effective learning experience.