Learn to Listen: Second Langauage Speech Perception Traininng System for English

Award Information
Department of Health and Human Services
Award Year:
Phase I
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Small Business Information
501 N. MORTON ST, Suite 215, BLOOMINGTON, IN, 47404
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
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(812) 336-1766
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This project will develop a multimedia speech perception assessment and training system for learners of English as a second/foreign language (ESL). It is well known that interference between a learner's native language and English negatively impacts their ability to understand fluent speech and therefore reduces their educational and job opportunities. ESL learners compensate for their impaired phonetic perceptual skills (bottom-up processing) through use of context and general knowledge (top-down processing), even though such strategies cannot guarantee good comprehension. However, popular language training systems focus on production skills and do not provide adequate perception training. The proposed project will devel op a system for comprehensive assessment of perceptual problems and for comprehensive, structured auditory training for ESL learners. Thus training will be closely linked to the perceptual errors determined in pre-training assessment. Training will begin b y strengthening the bottom-up processing skills at the syllable level and then gradually introduce demands for top-down processing in connected speech. In Phase I, speech perception problems for English syllables will be assessed for ESL learners from four L1 backgrounds. Based on the assessment results, a training module will be developed and a training study will be conducted. A novel task for the identification of words within carrier sentences will also be developed in Phase I and will be tested for its feasibility. In Phase II the assessment and training modules at the syllable level will be fully developed. They will be tested with ESL learners from a variety of language backgrounds. If the novel task using carrier sentences is found feasible, material s with more variation in carrier sentences, speakers, and target words will be developed in Phase II. In addition, the Phase II system will also have the capability of presenting noise- degraded speech (e.g. background noise, and competing talkers), as wel l as speech training using phrases, sentences, and passages in careful and casual speaking styles. The final system will be used by a group of non-native ESL learners to demonstrate the effectiveness of including explicit perceptual training in a program o f ESL instruction. Summarizing, the final product will be a complete perception training system with demonstrated effectiveness that will help L2 learners to accurately process English in real life and to better monitor their own pronunciation using improv ed perception. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a multimedia system for the assessment and training of speech perception by learners of English as a second/foreign language. The final product will improve English communication between person s with different native languages in the U.S. and throughout the world.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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