Re: Language Assessment
Are these essay marking software products really that much better than Word?
They had better be, because Word isn't even in the same category. It's almost a meaningless comparison.
Well, maybe that's not entirely fair. Word does employ some better-than-a-toy versions of some NLP algorithms, such as its summary-generating feature. But Word's usage-checking (usually incorrectly called a "grammar-checking") engine isn't among them.
Jurafsky and Martin, a widely-used textbook in the subject, is a good introduction to the field. Of course it doesn't represent the latest or most complex techniques - for that you'd have to read journals and conference proceedings. It's a very active field.