Hi Dave --
I think everyone has kind of given up on even a native-English grammar checker that works. Natural language is too hard for computers. We like to think of the grammar checker as an opportunity to examine interesting grammar points, esp. at the advanced level.
For instance, in most professional writing, the passive voice is used extensively, even though this might be "marked" in a regular grammar checker. This is a good discussion topic for a writing class.
Another thing teachers can do is use samples from webpage searches for particular phrases as if the search results were a concordancer. The students collect samples from the webpage search for certain sentences with particular grammatical constructions, and then discuss the variants. They could even do this with "a" vs "the."
Lextutor - http://lextutor.ca
- uses concordances with various Academic Word Lists, so that's another way to check grammaticality online -- have students type in a sentence or construction and search for it in the corpora.
Seeing lots of examples of how others use a construction (e.g., lots of input) seems to be the best way to teach grammar, rather than just correcting it. Hope you find these to be useful alternatives.
--- In email@example.com, "Study" <dwinet@...> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues,
> Why in the world is there no (good) ESL-specific grammar checker?
> Surely someone codewizard could put something together?