Saturday, September 08, 2012

Learning French: using free speech recognition services to improve pronunciation and accent

I can learn most things pretty easily; but not music or language. Tone deaf is an understatement.

This was a problem for a lower class anglais caught up in Quebec's Quiet Revolution. Around the age of 12 I had to learn French; at a time when nobody knew how to teach it. This did not go well. Much later a delightful summer immersion in Chicoutimi was more successful, but I still struggled to be understood. My French diction is almost as bad as my Thai.

This is a hard problem. I needed a demanding listener who could tolerate repetitive errors without annoyance. It would help if they were available at any time, and were willing to work for free.

Happily, that teacher has long been available. It occurred to me long ago that I just needed to practice with a French speaker-independent non-adaptive continuous speech recognition engine until the output matched my input. I waited for that to be built into language education software.

And I waited. Sometimes I idly thought about putting the software together myself.

Today I realized I could simply use Mac speech recognition and language support to learn French speech. It works rather well. I expect many iOS, Android and OS X language education apps will be able to integrate this  capability into language education for French, Chinese and English. Android will have an advantage here, since iOS is more restrictive about what developers can do.

I'm looking forward to buying those apps when they become available. In the meantime my son will be using this during for his High School French class.

1 comment:

TalkWizz said...

You can try TalkWizz - Speak French on Android phones/tablets

Here is a link to the "lite" (free) version :