Time: 2pm-3pm, Friday, Oct 22, 2010
Place: Room 4102, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave (34str&35str).
Speaker: Joel Tetreault (ETS)


The long-term goal of our work is to develop a system which detects
errors in grammar and usage so that appropriate feedback can be given to
non-native English writers, a large and growing segment of the world's
population. Estimates are that in China alone as many as 300 million
people are currently studying English as a second language (ESL).  In
particular, usage errors involving prepositions are among the most
common types seen in the writing of non-native English speakers. For
example, Izumi et al., (2003) reported error rates for English
prepositions that were as high as 10% in a Japanese learner corpus.

Since prepositions are such a nettlesome problem for ESL writers,
developing an NLP application that can reliably detect these types of
errors will provide an invaluable learning resource to ESL students. To
address this problem, we describe a system which detects preposition
errors with a precision of 84% in TOEFL essays.  In this talk, I will
discuss the system as well as issues in developing and evaluating NLP
grammatical error detection applications.  

This is joint work with Martin Chodorow at CUNY.

Speaker Bio: 

Joel Tetreault is a Research Scientist specializing in Computational
Linguistics in the Research & Development Division at Educational
Testing Service in Princeton, NJ.  His research focus is Natural
Language Processing with specific interests in anaphora, dialogue and
discourse processing, machine learning, and applying these techniques to
the analysis of English language learning and automated essay scoring.
Currently he is working on automated methods for detecting grammatical
errors by non-native speakers, plagiarism detection, and content scoring
methods.  Previously, he was a postdoctoral research scientist at the
University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center
(2004-2007).  There he worked on developing spoken dialogue tutoring
systems.  Tetreault received his B.A. in Computer Science from Harvard
University (1998) and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the
University of Rochester (2004).