Project Abstract

The overall aim of the project is to gain an order of magnitude in the usability and efficiency of computer-assisted language learning software by adapting content, feedback and exercises to individual learners in the speech dimension of a foreign language. This will be achieved by integrating the production and perception of the learner’s own speech and focusing on the French-German language pair, in both directions.

Providing learners with feedback is a central issue of foreign language learning. The first objective is to provide the learner with automated feedback which derives from an analysis of the learner’s utterance and targets specifically the acoustic features to be improved. The second objective is to offer feedback that relies on phonetic knowledge incorporated in the learning system and interacts relevantly with automatic speech recognition (ASR) and signal processing.

The third objective is to reach a high level of individualization of the user interface, type of exercises, nature and level of feedback (textual, acoustic, visual) and to develop a learner profile, taking into account the phonetic difficulties experienced by the individual learner on the levels of production and perception. This objective requires a precise definition of the phonetic difficulties predicted for the L1-L2 pair by speech scientists of both languages. These difficulties concern the segmental level (e.g., stop aspiration, final devoicing, vowel quantity) and the suprasegmental level (e.g., lexical stress, contrastive accent).

The target features will be selected by considering the phonological and phonetic systems of both languages and ranked by observed recurring errors made by learners, to ensure a relevant learning progress. This procedure will be driven by a careful analysis of a corpus comprising French and German L2 speech data recorded by learners at different levels of proficiency. This corpus will be made available to the scientific community.