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October 04, 2005

Better Pronunciation Through Technology

Japanese students of English will soon have a new tool for improving their pronunciation. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has developed computer software that analyzes a speaker's mouth and tongue movements with a high degree of accuracy and can point out specific changes to improve English pronunciation. The independent administrative corporation developed the software through combined research with Prontest, a company based in Tsukuba City, Ibaragi Prefecture that also runs a small chain of Bears English conversation schools.

Current speech recognition technology, in use used in many educational products, is usually limited to giving right/wrong answers and test scores. The software under development will take the educational posibilities offered by this technology to a new level. It has potential applications both at conversation schools, whose teachers may lack the expertise to correct pronunciation, and in elementary and junior high schools that don't have access to native speakers. It is also certain to be used in products for home study, for desktop computers and possibly even English-teaching robots.
AIST press release (Japanese)
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