Pronunciation Evaluation
Project to develop branching readers with pronunciation practice








Let me count the ways this project is good; good for the world, good for language learners, and good for me. First let me explain what it is. (Or you can go directly to their KickStarter page.)

Did you ever try one of those “Choose your own adventure” books? No? You read a page or two, then you have a choice. Depending on your choice, you jump to a different page. Read that page, another choice. Another jump. I learned how to use hypertext while developing an online version of a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA). This was all before the World Wide Web. Now, people like Marcos Benavides are using CYOA for readers for language learners.

This project mixes Choose Your Own Adventure plots with Speech Recognition, to improve pronunciation. Most pronunciation software fails because it is not intrinsically linked to neither a purpose nor an important outcome. Linking the story and plot to your ability to pronounce should provide both. This project looks really, really interesting.

It is good for the world. This project is Open Source, it will be offered to the world for free when it is finished. Anyone can use it without paying for the software. People will even be able to work on it to improve the tool. I will guess that people will be able to write books for the project. It also means that is will be developed using suggestions from users.

It is good for language learners because it is based on stories, the mental unit that works best with memory. It mixes oral production (pronunciation) with reading in a way that is both natural and good challenging to language learners.

There are also a lot of ways that this project is good for me. I have been interested in both CYOA and Speech Recognition, and its application to language learning, main topics of my research in the early 90’s. I learned about it from a journalist from Colorado. One of the promoters is from Barcelona Spain (I used to live there). The developers are from Singapore and India.  A truly international affair. It is also a bit of a geeky endeavor. So much fun just to be a part of it. I just pledged $100.