Stop Consonants in Chinese and Slovak: Contrastive Analysis by Using Praat

The acquisition of the correct pronunciation in Chinese is closely linked to the initial phase of the study. Based on the contrastive analysis, we determine the differences in the pronunciation of stop consonants in Chinese and Slovak taking into consideration the place and manner of articulation to gain a better understanding of the students' main difficulties in the process of acquiring correct pronunciation of Chinese stop consonants. We employ the software Praat for the analysis of the recorded samples with an emphasis on the pronunciation of the students with a varying command of Chinese. The comparison of the voice onset time (VOT) length for the individual consonants in the students' pronunciation and the pronunciation of the native speaker exposes the differences between the correct pronunciation and the deviant pronunciation of the students.

Duration Patterns of English by Native British Speakers and Mandarin ESL Speakers

This study is intended to describe and analyze the effects of polysyllabic shortening and word or phrase boundary on the duration patterns of spoken utterances by Mandarin learners of English in comparison with native speakers of English. To investigate the relative contribution of these effects, two production experiments were conducted. The study included 11 native British English speakers and 20 Mandarin learners of English who were asked to produce four sets of tokens consisting of a mono-syllabic base form, disyllabic, and trisyllabic words derived from the base by the addition of suffixes, and a set of short sentences with a particular combination of phrase size, stress pattern, and boundary location. The duration of words and segments was measured, and results from the data analysis suggest that the amount of polysyllabic shortening and the effect of word or phrase position are likely to affect a Chinese accent for Mandarin ESL speakers. This study sheds light on research on the duration patterns of language by demonstrating the effect of duration-related factors on the foreign accent of Mandarin ESL speakers. It can also benefit both L2 learners and language teachers by increasing their sensitivity to the duration differences and difficulties experienced by L2 learners of English. An understanding of the amount of polysyllabic shortening and the effect of position in words and phrase on syllable duration can also facilitate L2 teachers to establish priorities for teaching pronunciation to ESL learners.

The Use of Software and Internet Search Engines to Develop the Encoding and Decoding Skills of a Dyslexic Learner: A Case Study

This case study explores the impact of two major computer software programs Learn to Speak English and Learn English Spelling and Pronunciation, and some Internet search engines such as Google on mending the decoding and spelling deficiency of Simon X, a dyslexic student. The improvement in decoding and spelling may result in better reading comprehension and composition writing. Some computer programs and Internet materials can help regain the missing awareness and consequently restore his self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, this study provides a systematic plan comprising a set of activities (four computer programs and Internet materials) which address the problem from the lowest to the highest levels of phoneme and phonological awareness. Four methods of data collection (accounts, observations, published tests, and interviews) create the triangulation to validly and reliably collect data before the plan, during the plan, and after the plan. The data collected are analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Sometimes the analysis is either quantitative or qualitative, and some other times a combination of both. Tables and figures are utilized to provide a clear and uncomplicated illustration of some data. The improvement in the decoding, spelling, reading comprehension, and composition writing skills that occurred is proved through the use of authentic materials performed by the student under study. Such materials are a comparison between two sample passages written by the learner before and after the plan, a genuine computer chat conversation, and the scores of the academic year that followed the execution of the plan. Based on these results, the researcher recommends further studies on other Lebanese dyslexic learners using the computer to mend their language problem in order to design and make a most reliable software program that can address this disability more efficiently and successfully.

Adaption Model for Building Agile Pronunciation Dictionaries Using Phonemic Distance Measurements

Where human beings can easily learn and adopt pronunciation variations, machines need training before put into use. Also humans keep minimum vocabulary and their pronunciation variations are stored in front-end of their memory for ready reference, while machines keep the entire pronunciation dictionary for ready reference. Supervised methods are used for preparation of pronunciation dictionaries which take large amounts of manual effort, cost, time and are not suitable for real time use. This paper presents an unsupervised adaptation model for building agile and dynamic pronunciation dictionaries online. These methods mimic human approach in learning the new pronunciations in real time. A new algorithm for measuring sound distances called Dynamic Phone Warping is presented and tested. Performance of the system is measured using an adaptation model and the precision metrics is found to be better than 86 percent.

Perceptual and Ultrasound Articulatory Training Effects on English L2 Vowels Production by Italian Learners

The American English contrast /ɑ-ʌ/ (cop-cup) is difficult to be produced by Italian learners since they realize L2-/ɑ-ʌ/ as L1-/ɔ-a/ respectively, due to differences in phonetic-phonological systems and also in grapheme-to-phoneme conversion rules. In this paper, we try to answer the following research questions: Can a short training improve the production of English /ɑ-ʌ/ by Italian learners? Is a perceptual training better than an articulatory (ultrasound - US) training? Thus, we compare a perceptual training with an US articulatory one to observe: 1) the effects of short trainings on L2-/ɑ-ʌ/ productions; 2) if the US articulatory training improves the pronunciation better than the perceptual training. In this pilot study, 9 Salento-Italian monolingual adults participated: 3 subjects performed a 1-hour perceptual training (ES-P); 3 subjects performed a 1-hour US training (ES-US); and 3 control subjects did not receive any training (CS). Verbal instructions about the phonetic properties of L2-/ɑ-ʌ/ and L1-/ɔ-a/ and their differences (representation on F1-F2 plane) were provided during both trainings. After these instructions, the ES-P group performed an identification training based on the High Variability Phonetic Training procedure, while the ES-US group performed the articulatory training, by means of US video of tongue gestures in L2-/ɑ-ʌ/ production and dynamic view of their own tongue movements and position using a probe under their chin. The acoustic data were analyzed and the first three formants were calculated. Independent t-tests were run to compare: 1) /ɑ-ʌ/ in pre- vs. post-test respectively; /ɑ-ʌ/ in pre- and post-test vs. L1-/a-ɔ/ respectively. Results show that in the pre-test all speakers realize L2-/ɑ-ʌ/ as L1-/ɔ-a/ respectively. Contrary to CS and ES-P groups, the ES-US group in the post-test differentiates the L2 vowels from those produced in the pre-test as well as from the L1 vowels, although only one ES-US subject produces both L2 vowels accurately. The articulatory training seems more effective than the perceptual one since it favors the production of vowels in the correct direction of L2 vowels and differently from the similar L1 vowels.

Melodic and Temporal Structure of Indonesian Sentences of Sitcom "International Class" Actors: Prosodic Study with Experimental Phonetics Approach

The enthusiasm of foreigners studying the Indonesian language by Foreign Speakers (BIPA) was documented in a sitcom "International Class". Tone and stress when they speak the Indonesian language is unique and different from Indonesian pronunciation. By using the Praat program, this research aims to describe prosodic Indonesian language which is spoken by ‘International Class” actors consisting of Abbas from Nigeria, Lee from Korea, and Kotaro from Japan. Data for the research are taken from the video sitcom "International Class" that aired on Indonesian television. The results of this study revealed that pitch movement that arises when pronouncing Indonesian sentences was up and down gradually, there is also a rise and fall sharply. In terms of stress, respondents tend to contain a lot of stress when pronouncing Indonesian sentences. Meanwhile, in terms of temporal structure, the duration pronouncing Indonesian sentences tends to be longer than that of Indonesian speakers.

Linguistic Competence Analysis and the Development of Speaking Instructional Material

Linguistic oral competence plays a vital role in attaining effective communication. Since the English language is considered as universally used language and has a high demand skill needed in the work-place, mastery is the expected output from learners. To achieve this, learners should be given integrated differentiated tasks which help them develop and strengthen the expected skills. This study aimed to develop speaking instructional supplementary material to enhance the English linguistic competence of Grade 9 students in areas of pronunciation, intonation and stress, voice projection, diction and fluency. A descriptive analysis was utilized to analyze the speaking level of performance of the students in order to employ appropriate strategies. There were two sets of respondents: 178 Grade 9 students selected through a stratified sampling and chosen at random. The other set comprised English teachers who evaluated the usefulness of the devised teaching materials. A teacher conducted a speaking test and activities were employed to analyze the speaking needs of students. Observation and recordings were also used to evaluate the students’ performance. The findings revealed that the English pronunciation of the students was slightly unclear at times, but generally fair. There were lapses but generally they rated moderate in intonation and stress, because of other language interference. In terms of voice projection, students have erratic high volume pitch. For diction, the students’ ability to produce comprehensible language is limited, and as to fluency, the choice of vocabulary and use of structure were severely limited. Based on the students’ speaking needs analyses, the supplementary material devised was based on Nunan’s IM model, incorporating context of daily life and global work settings, considering the principle that language is best learned in the actual meaningful situation. To widen the mastery of skill, a rich learning environment, filled with a variety instructional material tends to foster faster acquisition of the requisite skills for sustained learning and development. The role of IM is to encourage information to stick in the learners’ mind, as what is seen is understood more than what is heard. Teachers say they found the IM “very useful.” This implied that English teachers could adopt the materials to improve the speaking skills of students. Further, teachers should provide varied opportunities for students to get involved in real life situations where they could take turns in asking and answering questions and share information related to the activities. This would minimize anxiety among students in the use of the English language.

Bilingual Gaming Kit to Teach English Language through Collaborative Learning

This paper aims to teach English (secondary language) by bridging the understanding between the Regional language (primary language) and the English Language (secondary language). Here primary language is the one a person has learned from birth or within the critical period, while secondary language would be any other language one learns or speaks. The paper also focuses on evolving old teaching methods to a contemporary participatory model of learning and teaching. Pilot studies were conducted to gauge an understanding of student’s knowledge of the English language. Teachers and students were interviewed and their academic curriculum was assessed as a part of the initial study. Extensive literature study and design thinking principles were used to devise a solution to the problem. The objective is met using a holistic learning kit/card game to teach children word recognition, word pronunciation, word spelling and writing words. Implication of the paper is a noticeable improvement in the understanding and grasping of English language. With increasing usage and applicability of English as a second language (ESL) world over, the paper becomes relevant due to its easy replicability to any other primary or secondary language. Future scope of this paper would be transforming the idea of participatory learning into self-regulated learning methods. With the upcoming govt. learning centres in rural areas and provision of smart devices such as tablets, the development of the card games into digital applications seems very feasible.

Age-Based Interface Design for Children’s CAPT Systems

Children today use computer based application in various activities especially for learning and education. Many of these tools and application such as the Computer Aided Pronunciation Training (CAPT) systems enable children to explore and experience them with little supervision from the adults. In order for these tools and application to have maximum effect on the children’s learning and education, it must be attractive to the children to use them. This could be achieved with the proper user interface (UI) design. As children grow, so do their ability, taste and preferences. They interact differently with these applications as they grow older. This study reviews several articles on how age factors influence the UI design. The review focuses on age related abilities such as cognitive, literacy, concentration and feedback requirement. We have also evaluated few of existing CAPT systems and determine the influence of age-based factors on the interface design.

A Development of English Pronunciation Using Principles of Phonetics for English Major Students at Loei Rajabhat University

This action research accentuates the outcome of a development in English pronunciation, using principles of phonetics for English major students at Loei Rajabhat University. The research is split into 5 separate modules: 1) Organs of Speech and How to Produce Sounds, 2) Monopthongs, 3) Diphthongs, 4) Consonant sounds, and 5) Suprasegmental Features. Each module followed a 4 step action research process, 1) Planning, 2) Acting, 3) Observing, and 4) Reflecting. The research targeted 2nd year students who were majoring in English Education at Loei Rajabhat University during the academic year of 2011. A mixed methodology employing both quantitative and qualitative research was used, which put theory into action, taking segmental features up to suprasegmental features. Multiple tools were employed which included the following documents: pre-test and post-test papers, evaluation and assessment papers, group work assessment forms, a presentation grading form, an observation of participants form and a participant self-reflection form. All 5 modules for the target group showed that results from the post-tests were higher than those of the pre-tests, with 0.01 statistical significance. All target groups attained results ranging from low to moderate and from moderate to high performance. The participants who attained low to moderate results had to re-sit the second round. During the first development stage, participants attended classes with group participation, in which they addressed planning through mutual co-operation and sharing of responsibility. Analytic induction of strong points for this operation illustrated that learner cognition, comprehension, application, and group practices were all present whereas the participants with weak results could be attributed to biological differences, differences in life and learning, or individual differences in responsiveness and self-discipline. Participants who were required to be re-treated in Spiral 2 received the same treatment again. Results of tests from the 5 modules after the 2nd treatment were that the participants attained higher scores than those attained in the pre-test. Their assessment and development stages also showed improved results. They showed greater confidence at participating in activities, produced higher quality work, and correctly followed instructions for each activity. Analytic induction of strong and weak points for this operation remains the same as for Spiral 1, though there were improvements to problems which existed prior to undertaking the second treatment.

The Investigation of the Possible Connections between Acculturation and the Acquisition of a Second Language on Libyan Teenage Students

The study investigates the possible connections between acculturation and the acquisition of a second language on Libyan teenage students in Australia. Specifically, the study examined how various socio-psychological variables influenced English oral proficiency (oral communicative competence and native-like pronunciation) of the participants. In addition, it looked at whether or not SLA affects acculturation towards the target language group. This is achieved by analysing data obtained from semi-structured interviews and oral proficiency interviews. The present study found a definite link between the students’ acculturation process and their oral communicative competence but not native-like pronunciation. The results also provided evidence that SLL process has an impact on integration into the host society as well as the acquisition of a second language culture. Yet, it did not draw a clear conclusion with respect to how such a process affects these aspects.

OCIRS: An Ontology-based Chinese Idioms Retrieval System

Chinese Idioms are a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expressions with specific meanings and stereotypes structure which are widely used in classical Chinese and are still common in vernacular written and spoken Chinese today. Currently, Chinese Idioms are retrieved in glossary with key character or key word in morphology or pronunciation index that can not meet the need of searching semantically. OCIRS is proposed to search the desired idiom in the case of users only knowing its meaning without any key character or key word. The user-s request in a sentence or phrase will be grammatically analyzed in advance by word segmentation, key word extraction and semantic similarity computation, thus can be mapped to the idiom domain ontology which is constructed to provide ample semantic relations and to facilitate description logics-based reasoning for idiom retrieval. The experimental evaluation shows that OCIRS realizes the function of searching idioms via semantics, obtaining preliminary achievement as requested by the users.

SMaTTS: Standard Malay Text to Speech System

This paper presents a rule-based text- to- speech (TTS) Synthesis System for Standard Malay, namely SMaTTS. The proposed system using sinusoidal method and some pre- recorded wave files in generating speech for the system. The use of phone database significantly decreases the amount of computer memory space used, thus making the system very light and embeddable. The overall system was comprised of two phases the Natural Language Processing (NLP) that consisted of the high-level processing of text analysis, phonetic analysis, text normalization and morphophonemic module. The module was designed specially for SM to overcome few problems in defining the rules for SM orthography system before it can be passed to the DSP module. The second phase is the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) which operated on the low-level process of the speech waveform generation. A developed an intelligible and adequately natural sounding formant-based speech synthesis system with a light and user-friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) is introduced. A Standard Malay Language (SM) phoneme set and an inclusive set of phone database have been constructed carefully for this phone-based speech synthesizer. By applying the generative phonology, a comprehensive letter-to-sound (LTS) rules and a pronunciation lexicon have been invented for SMaTTS. As for the evaluation tests, a set of Diagnostic Rhyme Test (DRT) word list was compiled and several experiments have been performed to evaluate the quality of the synthesized speech by analyzing the Mean Opinion Score (MOS) obtained. The overall performance of the system as well as the room for improvements was thoroughly discussed.

The Design and Development of Multimedia Pronunciation Learning Management System

The proposed Multimedia Pronunciation Learning Management System (MPLMS) in this study is a technology with profound potential for inducing improvement in pronunciation learning. The MPLMS optimizes the digitised phonetic symbols with the integration of text, sound and mouth movement video. The components are designed and developed in an online management system which turns the web to a dynamic user-centric collection of consistent and timely information for quality sustainable learning. The aim of this study is to design and develop the MPLMS which serves as an innovative tool to improve English pronunciation. This paper discusses the iterative methodology and the three-phase Alessi and Trollip model in the development of MPLMS. To align with the flexibility of the development of educational software, the iterative approach comprises plan, design, develop, evaluate and implement is followed. To ensure the instructional appropriateness of MPLMS, the instructional system design (ISD) model of Alessi and Trollip serves as a platform to guide the important instructional factors and process. It is expected that the results of future empirical research will support the efficacy of MPLMS and its place as the premier pronunciation learning system.

Automatic Lip Contour Tracking and Visual Character Recognition for Computerized Lip Reading

Computerized lip reading has been one of the most actively researched areas of computer vision in recent past because of its crime fighting potential and invariance to acoustic environment. However, several factors like fast speech, bad pronunciation, poor illumination, movement of face, moustaches and beards make lip reading difficult. In present work, we propose a solution for automatic lip contour tracking and recognizing letters of English language spoken by speakers using the information available from lip movements. Level set method is used for tracking lip contour using a contour velocity model and a feature vector of lip movements is then obtained. Character recognition is performed using modified k nearest neighbor algorithm which assigns more weight to nearer neighbors. The proposed system has been found to have accuracy of 73.3% for character recognition with speaker lip movements as the only input and without using any speech recognition system in parallel. The approach used in this work is found to significantly solve the purpose of lip reading when size of database is small.

The Main Principles of Text-to-Speech Synthesis System

In this paper, the main principles of text-to-speech synthesis system are presented. Associated problems which arise when developing speech synthesis system are described. Used approaches and their application in the speech synthesis systems for Azerbaijani language are shown.

Inferring Hierarchical Pronunciation Rules from a Phonetic Dictionary

This work presents a new phonetic transcription system based on a tree of hierarchical pronunciation rules expressed as context-specific grapheme-phoneme correspondences. The tree is automatically inferred from a phonetic dictionary by incrementally analyzing deeper context levels, eventually representing a minimum set of exhaustive rules that pronounce without errors all the words in the training dictionary and that can be applied to out-of-vocabulary words. The proposed approach improves upon existing rule-tree-based techniques in that it makes use of graphemes, rather than letters, as elementary orthographic units. A new linear algorithm for the segmentation of a word in graphemes is introduced to enable outof- vocabulary grapheme-based phonetic transcription. Exhaustive rule trees provide a canonical representation of the pronunciation rules of a language that can be used not only to pronounce out-of-vocabulary words, but also to analyze and compare the pronunciation rules inferred from different dictionaries. The proposed approach has been implemented in C and tested on Oxford British English and Basic English. Experimental results show that grapheme-based rule trees represent phonetically sound rules and provide better performance than letter-based rule trees.

Thai Prosody Problems with First Year Students

Thai language is difficult in all four language skills, especially reading. The first year students may have different abilities in reading, so a teacher is required to find out a student’s reading level so that the teacher can help and support them till they can develop and resolve each problem themselves. This research is aimed to study the prosody problem among Thai students and will be focused on first year Thai students in the second semester. A total of 58 students were involved in this study. Four obstacles were found: 1. Interpretation from what they read and write 2. Incorrectness Pronunciation of Prosody 3. Incorrectness in Rhythm of the Poem 4. Incorrectness of the Thai Poem Pronunciation

On a Pitch Duration Technique for Prosody Control

In this paper, we propose a method of alter duration in frequency domain that control prosody in real time after pitch alteration. If there has a method to alteration duration freely among prosody information, that may used in several fields such as speech impediment person's pronunciation proof reading or language study. The pitch alteration method used control prosody altered by PSOLA synthesis method which is in time domain processing method. However, the duration of pitch alteration speech is changed by the frequency domain. In this paper, we altered the duration with the method of duration alteration by Fast Fourier Transformation in frequency domain. Consequently, the intelligibility of the pitch and duration are controlled has a slight decrease than the case when only pitch is changed, but the proposed algorithm obtained the higher MOS score about naturalness.