Reading and Writing Tools for Academic English
by Eoin Jordan and Andy Snyder

If you would like to invite Eoin or Andy to speak about the tools on this site, or would like to enquire about having some tools tailored to meet the specific needs of your institution, then please email

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Eoin Jordan, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
Eoin has extensive experience working in language education in Asia and Europe. His main areas of interest are using technology in education, L2 vocabulary acquisition and testing, World Englishes, and the utilization of L1 transfer in L2 study.
Detailed Bio

Andy Snyder, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
Andy has taught English in China since 2004. He is interested in developing technology for aiding learners’ language acquisition. In addition to his teaching experience, Andy has a background in virtual learning environments, coding, and website development.
Detailed Bio

Research presentations and publications about the tools on this site

Jordan, E. (& Snyder, A. in absentia) - “Automated Writing Feedback for Chinese Learners of English with 'Marking Mate'”, Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL) Public Lecture, University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus, Ningbo, China, November 2012.
CRAL China list of public lectures

While there is considerable debate about how feedback should be given on second language learners' writing, one point that most researchers agree on is that feedback should be timely. Despite this, the reality of heavy marking loads often makes it difficult for teachers to provide feedback as quickly as would be desirable. In recent years, Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) has emerged as one option to provide faster feedback on student writing, but there is a lack of freely available AWE software, and commercial options that are available are not tailored to the needs of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) learners in a Chinese context. In response to this situation, the presenters are currently developing a free web-based academic writing application called 'Marking Mate'. While it does not employ some of the more sophisticated techniques of commercial AWE software, it does allow users to input texts, such as essays or reports, and receive instant evaluative and formative feedback on many aspects of their writing. Marking Mate analyses statistical data from inputted texts, as well as searching for grammar problems and common stylistic issues for Chinese learners. This presentation will describe and demonstrate the application, summarize pilot feedback received from XJTLU teachers and students, discuss how the program could be integrated with a writing curriculum, and outline plans for further development.

Jordan, E. & Snyder, A. - “Marking Mate - A free web-based academic writing feedback tool for East Asian learners of English”, JALTCALL, Konan University, Kobe, Japan, June 2012.
Conference website

Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) has been the subject of much research in recent years, including some focus on how it can be used to provide formative writing feedback. However, there is a lack of freely available AWE software, and commercial options are not tailored to the needs of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) learners in an East Asian context. In response to this situation, our presentation will introduce a piece of web-based open-source academic writing software called 'Marking Mate', which is currently under development at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in China. Although not as sophisticated as commercial AWE software, it allows users to input texts, such as essays or reports, and receive instant formative feedback on common stylistic issues for East Asian learners, as well as on some grammar problems. Issues that users are currently able to search for include: emotional, informal or cliched language, use of contractions, lack of hedging language, excessively repeated vocabulary, conjunctions at the start of sentences, the presence of many consecutive short sentences, redundant phrasing, personal pronoun usage, question and exclamation usage, citations not matching references, and uncountable noun plurals. Our main focus has been on areas that Microsoft Word does not cover adequately. In our presentation, we will describe and demonstrate the software, summarize feedback received from a brief trial with XJTLU teachers, discuss how the program could be incorporated into classroom teaching, and outline plans for future development and testing.

References and recommended resources

The following sites were inspirations for the design and function of Marking Mate.

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