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Language test as a smartphone app
Date:11/29/2011

esponse time provides the researchers for instance with information about whether common or concrete words are recognised more quickly than rare or abstract ones. Such experiments also provide valuable data sources for research on language and reading disorders.

The scientists decided to carry out the first phase of this project in seven languages which use the Roman alphabet: English, Basque, Catalan, Dutch, French, Malay and Spanish. They made application programs with the lexical decision task for these languages available in the app stores of a well-known smartphone provider, and drew attention to the new app through advertising. The apps specially developed for this purpose contained tests comprising between 50 and 140 words that appear randomly on the smartphone display. The participants were also given the option of forwarding additional information about themselves - for example their age, gender, native language and whether they were left-handed or right-handed - by email to the researchers.

The invitation to "game for science" was very well received by the smartphone user community. The highest number of emails received by the researchers originated from The Netherlands: David Peeters has now received over 5,000 responses from his compatriots. "Our app is actually one of the five most frequently downloaded apps in its category," says the Max Planck researcher, clearly delighted at the unexpectedly positive response to the app.

Peeters and his colleagues intend to start working on the actual analyses when they have at least 10,000 test results per country. However, the initial indications are already very promising. "For instance, we have discovered that the test via smartphone is just as reliable as that carried out under standard conditions in the laboratory," reports Peeters.

Moreover, it is already clear that a far larger target group can be reached using the new technology than in the traditional way. "Students betw
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Contact: Myrna Tinbergen
myrna.tinbergen@mpi.nl
31-243-521-446
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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