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New proofreading software promises better checks

Former international students in the UK have developed a new free proofreading software offering non-native English speakers a package deal including spell and grammar checks, a dictionary, translation and vocabulary enrichment. Having just introduced its MS Outlook plug-in, developers say they will begin to explore potential collaborations with overseas language schools or companies working in the education sector this month.

New free proofreading software, 1Checker

"Those checkers were designed by native speakers and cannot catch common mistakes made by non-native speakers"

““We are looking for potential collaboration partners, and hopefully, we will be able to provide our service to the MOOC community in the future”

Launched earlier this year, 1Checker  uses an Automated Essay Scoring (AES) system that evaluates students essay on spelling and grammar as well as organisation and development, while automatically marking pronunciation during oral examinations.

“In terms of EFL teaching in general, new technologies like 1Checker can help teachers with their tedious proofreading and grading work,” Yichi Zhang, the software’s creator told The PIE News.

1Checker claims to better its competitors– including Microsoft’s equivalent offering– by not only picking up errors but also providing better options and more feedback on grammar.

In the following sentence for example “1Checker tempts to give good corrections,” the software suggests the word “appropriate” instead of good.

Examples of corrections missed by other proofreaders but picked up by 1Checker

Examples of corrections missed by other proofreaders but picked up by 1Checker

1Checker’s genesis was inspired by Zhang’s own experience as an international student from China using weak proofreading software while studying for a PhD in Cambridge.

“When we were doing our research in Cambridge, we had a hard time to proofread our own research work. I mean, I have to spend quite some time struggling with my grammar before sending it out to journals.

Those checkers were designed by native speakers and cannot catch common mistakes made by non-native speakers. So that is why we started,” he said.

He predicts that foreign students in English speaking countries will be the predominant users and has already seen an increasing proportion of Japanese users sign up for the software.

Although some grammatical errors made intentionally can not be detected or corrected with an appropriate alternative, Zhang is hoping to develop 1Checker so that it will include enrichment for phrases instead of its current offering  that solely proofreads vocabulary.

Looking ahead he says  “We are looking for potential collaboration partners, and hopefully, we will be able to provide our service to the MOOC community in the future.”

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