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Text X-Ray (beta): A Visual Text Analyzer

Text X-Ray works as a basic text editor with built-in applications such as a visualizer for various parts-of-speech tags (e.g., nouns, verbs, and prepositions), readability and lexical diversity measures, wordlist comparisons, and a word cloud application. Another important feature of this program is its ability to compare normalized frequencies of linguistic features, e.g., word/phrasal classes, with those aggregated from advanced, A-graded student papers categorized primarily across disciplines and text types.

Ying Zhu, Department of Computer Science
  Eric Friginal, Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

Run Test-XRay

Test X-Ray's beta version (link: http://www.cs.gsu.edu/yzhu/Documents/TextVis/launch.jnlp)

Text X-Ray is a collaborative project between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University. This program merges online technology, natural language processing techniques, and approaches to language teaching and learning in developing an online text visualizer that can be used to raise learners’ awareness of vocabulary and grammatical structure of texts (and especially their own writing).

User Feedback

MC, MA student/Literacy Workshops Instructor, GSU
It’s great to help students see how people write. I really like the feature about reader expectations. You could use that to discuss with students whether or not the topic is really stated at the beginning of sentences in a text (whether it be a student or expert paper), and if the new information is given at the end of a sentence. This gives students the opportunity to analyze how we organize information in a text.

CF, Instructor, Hall County Alliance for Literacy, Gainesville, GA
Text X-Ray is a program that I could sit here and play with all day because I just think it’s cool that a program can pick out parts of speech in a selected text. I haven’t noticed any mistakes made by Text X-Ray yet, but I’m determined to stump it.

My first thought on using Text X-Ray in the classroom was as a sort of self-check device that the students could use in our technology room. My class is for beginners and we do go over the basic parts of speech, so by having students enter a pre-selected text into the program, having them pick out the nouns in the passage, and then checking their own accuracy with Text X-Ray is an excellent way to get students to become more engaged with their language learning.

JH, ESL Teacher – Korea
What it can do to help students and teachers in the writing classroom?

Comparing with other concordancers, it is VERY user-friendly. I thought that I could use concordancers only when I prepare the class, but I thought I won't recommend students to use this kind of program before I saw the text x-ray. However, this test x-ray changed my thoughts. It is colorful and it is very easy to use. Without tagging, if students can find the nouns, verbs, and adjectives, I could use it when I teach verb valency to students. Since my interest is teaching grammar using corpus, I mainly thought of the methodology that I can use for grammar teaching. Because of this visual recognition on the screen of Text x-ray, I think students' learning will last than simple rote memory.

MM, Instructor of Japanese, GSU Department of Modern and Classical Languages
Articles are hard to learn for Japanese learners of English since Japanese does not have articles. Texts with highlighted articles (a, an, the) can be used in the writing classroom as a focus on form activity.

Compare with MICUSP shows the comparison of frequency of major part of speech between corpus and the current essay. By focusing on article use, the program gives a clue to Japanese students if they supplied necessary articles. If their frequency of articles is much lower compared to a corpus, they can focus on articles when they proof read their essay.

Word Cloud – It might help students with writing a summary of a text. I remember when I was an undergraduate student, writing a summary in English was so difficult. Visual presentation of Word Cloud might be a useful information.