Most online software for learning grammar and vocabulary still utilizes repetitive drills. But here we introduce another type of learning software, called OLES (Online Lesetrainer für europäische Sprachen!), with which learners can do text reconstruction exercises. This relatively enjoyable activity is similar the text reconstruction program STORYBOARD (Higgins/Johns 1984) which was popular in the so-called “communicative CALL era” of the 1980’s.
OLES is an on-line reading support software, which has been developed by the author and a coworker at Hiroshima University. It is a kind of maximal extension of a cloze test. At the beginning of the text reconstruction with OLES, the letters of whole words in the text are already replaced by the same number of underbars, and the learners are required to find the “hidden” words by random guessing. The guessing operates on the same principle as the game “hangman”. If the text contains the entered word, all the tokens of the word in the text are reconstructed (= redisplayed). The more words a student can reconstruct, the more easily the person can guess other remaining words, because learners can make use of context clues both in content and grammatical structure.
In this paper, we first introduce the basic concepts and the functions of OLES, then report a practice using OLES in a beginners class of German at Hiroshima University. Finally, a list of data of the entered words of each learner obtained from the mentioned practice with OLES is analyzed. In the analysis we address the following six questions:
1. What kind of strategies do learners use in the text rereconstruction with OLES?
2. Are there specific words which are reconstructed remarkably earlier than others? If so, what are the characteristics for such words or word groups?
3. Are there specific words whose successful reconstruction rates are remarkably higher or lower? If so, what are the characteristics of the words or word groups?
4. What kind of words or word groups tend to be reconstructed successively?
5. What trends can be seen in error types?
6. How do learners assess the text rereconstruction exercises with OLES?