R – There are no fees required to use BonPatron. The tool is made available at no cost to the user. Feel free to use it as much as you like, whenever you like. There is also a Pro version available for a minimal charge that has a great many new features (see http://pro.bonpatron.com)
R – Simply cut and paste your text into the editing window and hit the Check text button. Next, place your mouse on a highlighted error to receive instructions (these will appear on the right side of the screen). Read the instructions, make the necessary changes and resubmit your text).
BonPatron is inspired by a process-writing approach to learning. Site users should approach the writing task in stages. As such, we suggest you submit text, correct the errors, and then resubmit your work. This is important since BonPatron requires certain errors to be fixed before it will point out other ones. For example, if you write Il a reste, only the need for a past participle (resté) will be highlighted initially. Once this change is made, the error concerning auxiliary selection will be caught. It is through a series of interactions like this that one makes greatest progress and that BonPatron will be most successful at identifying errors. Recent research shows that learners make better progress when they are not overwhelmed by an excessive number of errors to correct.
Note that BonPatron will not catch 100% of errors (nor will the average teacher!). Our own research (and that of an independent review) suggests that BonPatron will catch approximately 82% of errors. It is a learning tool that is designed to improve texts, not make them flawless.
You can watch a video of how to use the Pro version of BonPatron here.
R – BonPatron uses advertising to avoid charging user fees. We incur a good many expenses to make the site available (e.g. server costs, research costs, hardware costs, etc.). By using ads, we hope to keep the site "free for all". Note that there are no ads on the Pro site (http://pro.bonpatron.com).
R – BonPatron has the following advantages:
R – The majority of rules are created using errors found in texts previously submitted to BonPatron. For example, if we discover four occurrences of the same error (e.g.: « Nous avons eu un très bon temps », a literal translation of the English expression ‘We had a very good time’), a rule will be created to flag this English structure so that the appropriate French equivalent can be provided via corrective feedback. However, not all rules are created in this way. Some have been configured based on the creators and/or contributors’ intuitions, all of whom are bilingual, as well as using grammar rules that regularly cause problems (prepositions, pronouns, etc.) for English speakers.
R – Of course. You may choose to either type your text directly in BonPatron or use a word processor (e.g. Word, WordPerfect). If you type your text outside of BonPatron, simply copy and paste the information directly into the main window. Keep in mind that BonPatron does not save formatting like italics or bold, so these should be added AFTER using BonPatron.
R – The main advantageous of the Pro version are:
1) a large, resizable window for editing texts;
R – There is no maximum on the Pro site. The free site allows users to submit texts of approximately 500 words.
R – Professors Nadasdi and Sinclair have extensive experience in the teaching of French as a second language, French linguistics and humanities computing. You may obtain information about the creators by visiting their respective Web sites :
R – No! BonPatron was created primarily to assist both French as a second language speakers and Francophones living in a minority situation (in Alberta, in Ontario, etc.) with their French. That said, monolingual speakers of French should also find BonPatron useful since many of the errors in our database are also found in the written French of Francophones.
R – When BonPatron scans submitted texts, it identifies forms and structures that diverge from standard written French, i.e., the language found in the dictionary. For example, with respect to verbs, BonPatron will suggest the use of the auxiliaries avoir and être as prescribed by French grammar. Colloquial language will generally be flagged as incorrect (e.g., the use of the pronoun que rather than dont). All corrective feedback is also written in Standard French.
R – BonPatron improves on a daily basis! New errors are found and targeted every day.
R – No. We do think the modest cost of the Pro site merits a subscription (€1199 a year, or significantly less for a class of students), but the free version will always be availble.
Q – What kinds of errors are identified?
R – The errors identified fall into three categories :
Misspelled words could either be words spelled incorrectly or simply typing errors. In such a case, BonPatron will display a list of valid words from which to choose. Structures to be verified (flagged in yellow) are potential errors; the sequence of letters/words is usually ungrammatical, though acceptable in some contexts, e.g.: il ferra (this structure is possible for the verb ferrer, but not for the more frequent verb faire). With respect to structures requiring correction (flagged in red), they are clearly mistakes that need to be fixed.
R – It is important to keep in mind that errors are the result of a number of factors. Since BonPatron identifies errors based on pre-determined rules resulting from errors found in previous submissions, it cannot flag a one-time error. For a rule to be created, an error must have been made more than once and by more than one user. Also, BonPatron cannot evaluate the semantic acceptability of submitted texts. If a sentence comes across as bizarre and completely incomprehensible but the syntax (grammar) is fine, BonPatron will not suggest any corrections. Take the following sentence :
Les bananes mangent le gorille
Although very sophisticated, BonPatron is incapable of understanding what is written. As such, it will not flag anything in this sentence. However, if one writes, les bananeor les bananes mange, BonPatron will identify these grammatical errors.
R – Not at all. The main objective of BonPatron is to assist users in correcting their own errors so that they learn from the process. Unlike other grammar checking software which correct mistakes without user involvement, BonPatron flags errors and suggests how to rectify the problem. In this way the user is responsible for making the necessary correction(s) and will likely learn from this involvement.
R – No. The primary goal of BonPatron is to assist users with their written French. It was designed for the purpose of learning French grammar.
R – BonPatron is available online 24/7 at www.bonpatron.com. Provided they have a computer and an Internet connection, any user can use BonPatron no matter if they’re in Japan, France, Argentina, Nova Scotia or Manitoba.
R – Not at present, though we hope to make this available in the future.
R – No. BonPatron has been designed for both the novice and the expert.
R – First and foremost, we recommend that all users benefit from the French interface in BonPatron. If the explanations are too difficult or if a beginner of French is too intimidated by instructions in French, simply choose English as the interface language from the pull-down menu (bottom right of the text submission box).
R – Yes, your comments are always welcome and appreciated! If you (or your students) are in the habit of making an error on a regular basis, we will happily create a new rule if at all possible.
Q – Is it possible to arrange to have BonPatron presented at a pedagogical conference?
R – It is our wish to promote BonPatron in all spheres related to the teaching of French. If you are in the process of organizing a colloquium, conference, meeting, etc., and would like to have BonPatron presented to your colleagues or friends, do not hesitate to contact us. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible.
R – Yes. A message to this effect is displayed on the BonPatron homepage. Texts are submitted anonymously, provided the user has removed his or her personal information (name, course, university). Even if this information appears in the user’s text, we will not attempt to contact him/her. All texts submitted will be used for the exclusive purpose of academic research and improvement of the site.
R – No. It is entirely possible that a comment-free text contains errors. This happens if: a) the error does not occur in our database of texts; b) the grammar is acceptable, though incomprehensible; c) the error is extremely rare; d) the complexity of the error is greater than the sophistication of BonPatron! As a general principle, the greater the distance between elements involved in a rule, the less likely it is that the error will be flagged.
R – The summary of errors is a categorized list of all errors found in the submitted text. Be it spelling mistakes, or agreement and conjugation problems, the errors will be placed into relevant categories so that the user may see what aspects of the French language are the most problematic.
R – No. Simply re-submit the text and made those changes that may have previously been omitted.
R – The dictionary used for identifying spelling errors is a database of current French words. If you have typed a word that has been flagged as incorrect but the word is in fact valid in French, please make a request via the contact link to have this word added to our database. We will then perform all the necessary research to determine the legitimacy of the word and, if need be, add it to the dictionary.