Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 1307–1331 | Cite as

Development of a computer-assisted Japanese functional expression learning system for Chinese-speaking learners

  • Jun LiuEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Shindo
  • Yuji Matsumoto
Cultural and Regional Perspectives


Because a large number of Chinese characters are commonly used in both Japanese and Chinese, Chinese-speaking learners of Japanese as a second language (JSL) find it more challenging to learn Japanese functional expressions than to learn other Japanese vocabulary. To address this challenge, we have developed Jastudy, a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) system designed specifically for Chinese-speaking learners studying Japanese functional expressions. Given a Japanese sentence as an input, the system automatically detects Japanese functional expressions using a character-based bidirectional long short-term memory with a conditional random field (BiLSTM-CRF) model. The sentence is then segmented and the parts of speech (POS) are tagged (word segmentation and POS tagging) by a Japanese morphological analyzer, MeCab (, trained using a CRF model. In addition, the system provides JSL learners with appropriate example sentences that illustrate Japanese functional expressions. The system uses a ranking system, which gives easier sentences a higher rank, when selecting example sentences. A support vector machine for ranking (SVMRank) algorithm estimates the readability of example sentences, using Japanese-Chinese common words as an important feature. A k-means clustering algorithm is used to cluster example sentences that contain functional expressions with the same meanings, based on part-of-speech, conjugation form, and semantic attributes. Finally, to evaluate the usefulness of the system, we have conducted experiments and reported on a preliminary user study involving Chinese-speaking JSL learners.


Japanese functional expressions Computer-assisted language learning Sentence readability estimation Educational technology 



This study was supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The authors would like to thank the editor and the reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.


This study has not received funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nara Institute of Science and TechnologyIkomaJapan
  2. 2.RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project (AIP)TokyoJapan

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