[Parley-devel] Features in next version of Parley

Andreas Xavier andxav at zoho.com
Wed Aug 27 19:31:20 UTC 2014

Hello Anša,

Thanks for finding bugs and suggesting features on bugzilla.  It is very much
appreciated.  I read all of the bug and feature suggestions.

I flagged the following bugs that you have commented on as being fixed 
or improved with the new library and file format that we are working on:
317994, 317993, 252482, 279512, 312955 and 244664.
I see that you have mentioned some of them below and I will comment
on them there.

You may want to follow or contribute to the discussion about the format which 
is happening on kde-edu at kde.org.

>I like the option of BIDIRECTIONAL TESTING and specifying which is the
>target language (although I still will have to come up with something
>for tests in which both items are "target", like translating from one
>foreign language into another, where there is the risk of not
>understanding the first, or understanding but not knowing the answer
>in the other). However, images should not be shown for the target
>language when the target language is the Question in the bidirectional
>testing, while it is fine to show images for the Question when the
>Question is the Known language (again, if one of the two languages is
>Known). The practice setup should distinguish between "Image for
>Question" depending on the direction.

You are correct.  Please add this as a bug in bugzilla, so that it is not 

One of the suggestions for the new file format is to split the training data
into listening, reading, speaking, writing and translation results.  The first
4 types are from standardized language proficiency tests.  I think that 
those 5 types capture the behavior that you are talking about, being 
able to read the question, but not being able to write the answer in 
the second language.  

>Talking about the new format and related to my wish
>https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=279512: I wonder whether the
>concept of lessons could be generalized to tags and subtags instead.
>The tags would form a tree, and one part of that tree would normally
>be the division into lessons, but with the possibility to have one
>word in several lessons. I noticed in the TODO list in the repo that
>you mention thaipod101.com. I've been using finnishpod101 and
>hebrewpod101 from the same company, and I noticed that you can also
>look up the list of lessons that a word belongs to. This is hard to
>achieve with a linear lesson structure, but easy to achieve with a
>tag-like structure. Moreover, it would make it super-easy to select
>for practice, lets say, just verbs describing animal behaviours from
>lessons 1-10 (select tag "word", which is a subtag of "part of
>speech"; tags "Lesson 1"... "Lesson 10"; and the tag "Animal" which
>are subtag of "Topic"). Obviously, there would need to be further
>specification of attributes that items with certain tags may have
>(certain tags imply inflection) and maybe even some uniform ways of
>treating words with a certain tag (like showing the subtags of the
>"style" tag during practice so that the learner is reminded that a
>word may not be appropriate in all contexts).

Some of these issues are handled in the new language file format.
The words will be stand alone so they can be included in multiple lessons,
or multiple times per lesson.

Also part of the proposal is to have sets of words, like pronouns, verbs, nouns, fruits, 
animals, breeds of dogs etc.  And secondly to use relationships between
sets to create a more generic, less rigid grammar structure.  For example fruits are nouns.
Pronouns,  verbs and tense make conjugates.  Dogs are animals, animals are nouns. etc.
You would be able to filter lessons with the sets of words.    

I think that this is almost what you are suggesting.  I think that you are also 
suggesting a non-linear lesson plan, perhaps a rooted tree based on the
pronouns and key verbs and then branching to support the student's needs.
The idea is possible.  It meshes well with language's behavior.  It will require some 
clever and elegant editor GUI design.  

>I noticed the following paraghraph in the TODO list in the repository:
>35 + There seems to be no way to change the title.
> ----
>36 It works in the editor but it is never saved.
>37 Note: It can be changed in the menu, though.
>Today, I've managed to change the title of several of my collections
>so that it displays correctly on the new dashboard, so I suppose this
>problem is fixed in 4.14.

I fixed that and didn't change the TODO.  Thanks for pointing it out.

>The TODO list also mentions "pregrades" (what are they?) and the need
>for greater amount of practice on level 1. 

Pregrades are currently 6 Leitner levels below the first visible one
in the user interface.  They have testing intervals from 3.5 minutes 
up to 8 hours.  Inge implemented them.

>I still think this could be
>solved simply by "require three consecutive right answers only for
>items answered incorrectly on the first attempt",
>https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=271785 I think that both that and
>the "I know it well" could coexist quite nicely and complement each
>other, as they do slightly different things. I am intrigued by the
>idea of abandoning the levels completely, and I think both of the
>above ideas could still be applied in that case, too. Do you know of
>any research as what kind of "time curve" is best for training? I've
>just read somewhere that it is best to keep the retention ratio at all
>times betwen 80% and 95% and that some methods have the desired
>retention ratio as their input parameter.
> If you have an implementation and need a real person to test the
>new method before release, and if I can use my current files with
>their current grades for that testing (i.e. continuing with the vocab
>I have already practiced from the spot that I have reached), that
>would be great. Actually it is not a strict condition, as I have just
>started learning a new language, so I would not mind abandoning my
>grades for that language. BTW, I use much longer training intervals
>than those suggested by parley by default, my levels 6 and 7 are 10
>and 12 months respectively. My retention ratio is around 80%; the
>intervals may be so long partly because my entries are both words and
>full sentences that contain them, so I usually practice the same piece
>of information in several parley entries. I am fond of separate
>"easiness" coefficient for each item as in my case, there definitely
>are words which I do forget again and again, and others that I learn
>easily. I do not tend to practice every day, so I might also be the
>right person for testing how that influences the effectivness of the
>chosen method. Dropping to 0 is fine with me.
> I'd be happy to do some reading on this topic, but I am afraid
>that by the time I would learn enough to be able to suggest a training
>method for Parley, version 5.0.0 would be around.

As you have outlined the specific retention ratio that you target is 
goal dependent.  To quickly learn new material a lower retention 
level is best as even wrong answers reinforce the correct answer,
if the correct answer is shown to the student without a wrong answer to
be inappropriately reinforced.  So many wrong answers feels uncomfortable in a world
focused on perfect test scores.  To prepare for a testing situation
the performance target needs to be increased, but this will slow learning.

The training intervals are student and word dependent.  As you noted it 
is important to track words individually.  

As you also noted compound structures are a very effective way to
reinforce multiple words in one training event.  I would like to track
the words individually within such constructions.  For example for writing the
sentence, "The dog chased the cat", the student should get credit
for: the, dog, cat, to chase, past tense conjugation and SVO order.  I would
like to see lesson plans with a threshold, that once crossed starts
presenting the user with more complicated compound structures
while they still see their performance improve on the basics individual words.

>As for minor wishes, I still wish that sound files would be played
>automatically during testing, which I reported as part of
>https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=263835; for now I assume it is
>not top priority for implementation. Talking about sound, I do not
>like the fact that during practice, a shadowed sound icon is shown
>next to items that do not have sound attached to them; could there be
>no icon instead?

Please file bug for the grayed out sound button, so that I won't forget it. 

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>Parley-devel at kde.org

Cheers Andreas

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