Authentic MaterialLanguage Learning Express, or Lex for short, is
a language learning tool where you, as a learner, use authentic material
that interests you as a starting point for language learning. The learning
will be much easier if you have a genuine interest in the material that
you work on. It will also be more efficient because you are more likely to
remember words that you really want to know.
Lex contains a Web browser by which you can find interesting material on
the World Wide Web. If you are interested in plants and flowers you read
about that. If you are interested in song lyrics, movie scripts or
something else you work on that.
The important thing is that you are focused on the content and really want
to understand what a web page is all about. In this process a lot of
questions will naturally pop up. The most common one being: What does
the word mean? Then again, Lex will make you turn to the Web to find
an answer to that question and to others you may have.
All at Your Fingertips
Language Learning Express supplies everything you need as a language
learner at your fingertips. It's a tool through which you will be able to
use the vast amount of material available on the World Wide Web for the
purpose of language learning.
When you have found an interesting site to work on you can easily look up
words, listen to pronunciations, highlight words and make your own text
exercises. Lex uses various sites on the Web to look up words in both
bilingual and monolingual dictionaries.
As part of the look up process you can build up your own glossary, which
later on can be used to make glossary exercises. To look up grammar points
you simply navigate to grammar sites, either in your target language or in
your native language. Thanks to Lex you will no longer have to spend a lot
of time searching in books, like dictionaries and grammars. You can
instead let the computer do all the tedious searching and focus your
efforts on the language issues themselves. See
Features for more information.
A Learning ToolLanguage Learning Express is a learning tool. It
is designed for the language learner, rather than the language teacher,
but you, as a language learner, will benefit more from it if you use it in
cooperation with a teacher. The teacher can then prepare texts and make
them available on the Web and you can access them and work on them on your
computer along with other material that you find on your own.
The fact that Lex is a tool for the learner does not mean that it replaces
the teacher. The teacher plays a key role in the language learning process
and the teacher is irreplaceable when it comes to answer questions and to
explain grammatical difficulties. The time spent together with a teacher,
the lesson time, should consequently be devoted to areas where the
participation of a teacher is essential. Lesson time is, however, in most
cases limited and it is therefore important that you, as a learner, also
make efficient use of the time in between lessons.
This is where Lex comes in. It enhances your capacity to work on your own.
The amount of progress that you make in between lessons determines how
much new knowledge that you can acquire from the teacher during lessons.
By using Lex you can prepare yourself for upcoming lessons and since all
your material is stored on the computer you can use Lex for efficient
repetition and revision.
Lex is a language learning tool, not a language learning method. Being a
tool, it can be used in conjunction with various language learning methods
and of course also with other language learning tools such as CD's, tapes,
The LearnerEven if the teacher plays a key role in the language
learning process, the most important person above all is of course the
learner. Lex is devised for the motivated learner who has a strong desire
to learn and who is willing to study on his or her own.
Motivation is a key factor. The learner who has a strong desire to learn
will most likely be successful. The motivated learner has by definition no
problem with motivation, at least not at the outset of the task to learn a
language. Motivation problems
may, however, arise at later stages because the learner's motivation will
most likely vary over time. The motivation of the learner will, among
other things, be influenced by the progress that the learner makes and the
way in which he or she perceives the learning situation as a whole.
Lex is designed to make the language learning situation more comfortable.
In short, it makes life easier for the learner. The goal is to make the
language learning process more efficient and at the same time turn it into
more pleasant experience. Lex
encourages the learner to play an active role. It's a tool by which the
learner can explore the target language on his or her own. The fact that
the learner plays an active role is essential and has been shown to be
beneficial for the learning process. As Seymor Papert writes in his
classic book Mindstorms "I am convinced that the best learning takes
place when the learner takes charge."
As a serious language learner you have to, at some point, start to
read books in the target language. But even if you realize that reading is
an essential activity it is not easy to get started.
One approach is to use special readers adapted for language learning
rather than ordinary books. The advantage with special readers is that you
can easily find one that is adapted to your level. The disadvantage
though, is that it might be difficult to find one that interests you.
best choice is usually an ordinary book.
The problem, however, is that it is difficult to find a book that matches
your level, which means that you have to repeatedly interrupt the reading
to look up words. This is very tedious, but by using Lex it becomes much
easier. You can by using a scanner feed a chapter at a time into the
computer and then you either read from the screen and
click on words to look them up or read along in the book and only
turn to the computer when there is something to look up.
Language Learning Express is written in English (i.e. commands,
menus and help texts are in English). The target group is people who
are proficient enough in English to be able to use an English program.
Lex can be set up to study virtually any language, but how well it
will work for a specific language depends on how much resources there
are on the Web for that language.
If your native language is English there are a lot of resources
available especially for studying western European languages like
French, Spanish and German. Also, if your target language is English
you are well off because there are a lot of Web resources in a variety
of languages that focus on English as the target language.
If your native language is not English and you want to study French,
Spanish, German or some other language the resources on the Web are
more scarce, but it differs from language to language so you have to
check that out for yourself.
you can find session definitions for different target and source
languages. There are, for example, sessions where English is source
language and French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Russian
are target languages and there are plenty of sessions where English is
target language with a variety of source languages. If you visit this
site (www.LearnWare.se) in Lex and go to the
Sessions section you can start sessions from there.
These sessions should be looked upon as examples. It is fairly easy to
set up your own sessions either from scratch or by modifying the
supplied sessions. What you need to find on the Web are dictionary
sites, grammar sites and of course material to work on in the form of
ordinary Web pages.
The intended Lex users are language learners all over the world who are
autonomous enough to use a learning tool on their own. Since it's easier
to be autonomous as an advanced learner than as a beginner, Lex is geared
towards the advanced adult learner and the university student rather than
the child and adolescent learner.
The important thing though, is the learner's autonomy not his or her skill
level. There are beginners who are autonomous enough to use Lex on their
own. As a matter of fact to become really proficient in a language the
learner is more or less forced to become autonomous at some point in time.
At least that's true for an adult learner.
An important user group for Lex are professional users, who need to
improve their language skills for business or social reasons. Lex can be
used to study vocabulary and terminology from a specific scientific or
professional field or it can be used as a tool by which the employees of a
multinational company can improve their language skills.
Another important user group is language teachers. Teachers can by
offering course material in Lex-format integrate Lex into a language
course and thereby not only teach their students a language but also show
them how to use Lex. That's the ideal way to learn how to use Lex,
especially for beginners. The students can then with the course material
as a base start to add their own material. From such a course the students
will not only get knowledge about a specific language, but will also learn
how to use a tool by which they can keep their knowledge fresh and updated
and continue to improve their language skills.
If you are a non-native English speaker you will, however proficient
you may be, now and then encounter words that you don't know or that
you are uncertain about. If you use Lex to surf the Web and you run
into a word that you don't understand you just have to click on the
word to look it up.
By clicking on the word it
will be looked up in both monolingual and bilingual dictionaries. You
can then very easily use the information from the dictionaries to make
an entry in your own glossary. That activity in itself, i.e. finding
the proper meaning and translation and the fact that you are actively
thinking about the word and its usage will in itself enforce the
By adding words to the
glossary you will gradually build up a collection of words that you
want to learn. You can then create exercises from the words in the
glossary and by running them you will learn the words in an easy and
entertaining way. So even if you are already a proficient English
speaker you can greatly benefit from using Lex. See
Glossary Exercise in the
Features section for more information.
A Lifelong CompanionLearning a language is a long process. It
could even be claimed to be a lifelong process since you, as a learner,
will through out life pick up new words and new phrases. It is an ongoing
thing, rather than something that is limited in time and it will over time
most certainly vary in intensity. The learning process will naturally be
more intense during periods of language courses than after and between
such periods, when it is likely to be more or less dormant.
One thing is certain though, the language learning situation will change
over time. You will acquire knowledge from many different sources and most
likely be taught by many teachers. The learning tool, however, may stay
the same. You can continue to use Lex even when the learning situation
changes. It can in fact be used to tie different learning periods
together. Lex has the potential to be your lifelong companion in your
endeavor to gain mastery over one or several foreign languages.
What to run on?Language Learning Express is a Windows program that runs under
Windows Vista and Windows 7. In addition, Internet
Explorer 6.0 or higher has to be installed on the system.
Lex uses dictionary sites on the World Wide Web to look up words, which
means that the lookup time is highly dependent on your network connection.
If you have a fast broadband connection, you will be able to make much
During a Lex session you will access five to ten or even more web sites
concurrently. To be able to do that in a smooth and efficient way you need
sufficient internal memory. Since you will have several windows open at
the same time you also need a big screen, the bigger the better.
Lex runs much smoother if you have a large internal memory and a fast
Internet connection and of course a powerful computer.