An investigation into teaching description and retrieval for constructed languages : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Computer Science at Massey University
The research presented in this thesis focuses on an investigation on teaching concepts for constructed languages, and the development of a teaching tool, called VISL, for teaching a specific constructed language. Constructed languages have been developed for integration with computer systems to overcome ambiguities and complexities existing in natural language in information description and retrieval. Understanding and using properly these languages is one of the keys for successful use of these computer systems Unfortunately, current teaching approaches are not suitable for users to learn features of those languages easily. There are different types of constructed languages. Each has specific features adapted for specific uses but they have in common explicitly constructed grammar. In addition, a constructed language commonly embeds a powerful query engine that makes it easy for computer systems to search for correct information from descriptions following the conditions of the queries. This suggests new teaching principles that should be easily adaptable to teach any specific structured language's structures and its specific query engine. In this research, teaching concepts were developed that offer a multi-modal approach to teach constructed languages and their specific query engines. These concepts are developed based on the efficiencies of language structure diagrams over the cumbersome and non-transparent nature of textual explanations, and advantages of active learning strategies in enhancing language understanding. These teaching concepts then were applied successfully for a constructed language, FSCL, as an example The research also explains howr the concepts developed can be adapted for other constructed languages. Based on the developed concepts, a Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) application called VISL is built to teach FSCL. The application is integrated as an extension module in PAC, the computer system using FSCL for description and retrieval of information in qualitative analysis. In this application, users will learn FSCL through an interconnection of four modes: FSCL structures through the first two modes and its specific query engine through the sccond two modes After going through four modes, users will have developed full understanding for the language. This will help users to construct a consistent vocabulary database, produce descriptive sentences conducive to retrieval, and create appropriate query sentences for obtaining relevant search results.