Automated annotation of learner English

Adriana Picoral, Shelley Staples, Randi Reppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This paper explores the use of natural language processing (NLP) tools and their utility for learner language analyses through a comparison of automatic linguistic annotation against a gold standard produced by humans. While there are a number of automated annotation tools for English currently available, little research is available on the accuracy of these tools when annotating learner data. We compare the performance of three linguistic annotation tools (a tagger and two parsers) on academic writing in English produced by learners (both L1 and L2 English speakers). We focus on lexico-grammatical patterns, including both phrasal and clausal features, since these are frequently investigated in applied linguistics studies. Our results report both precision and recall of annotation output for argumentative texts in English across four L1s: Arabic, Chinese, English, and Korean. We close with a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of using automatic tools to annotate learner language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-52
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Learner Corpus Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Automated annotation
  • Learner English
  • Writing research
  • learner NLP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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