Thursday, July 19, 2018

Everyone-Can-Create Project: Improving Pronunciation of words

In the institute, one key deliverable of all ADEs is to come up with a project that they would like to work on, that calls for action.

Having been exposed to several of 'new' tools at the various sessions in the past few days, I've scoped it to address an issue that students who are weak in language would face - word pronunciation, which personally I think I would have benefited if technology was available during my school days, ok... that nearly 40 years ago... 😕

The clip below, created using CLIPS, is version 2 of the idea generated (supposed to be posted in a social media with hashtags #ade2018 #EveryoneCanCreate #AppleEDUchat.

Version 2 has been refined. Below is probably the closer-to-final version of proposed idea.


Language is a means to communicate and make connections. Being able to speak and express one's idea clearly is important.

In the language curriculum, one of the many desired outcomes for language learning is students being able to use language to express themselves clearly and effectively. In particular, pronunciation plays a fundamental role. Through my own experience, the confidence and fluency to express one's ideas affects one's confidence and ability to articulate words clearly. OK, I guess that explains why I prefer to write than speak in English language most of the time 😔

What's up?

So, what did I find at the 2018 World Wide ADE Institute that could probably be helpful to address the 'area of concern' described above? To sharpen the area of focus: How can students use simple technology to acquire good pronunciation (over time)?

Well, I can think of at least 2 tools, but after one round of discussion (this morning), I think I can further incorporate another tool to make the entire experience a complete one.

Through this process, the proposed approach, apart from achieving skill acquisition, aims to impact learners to become
  • During the Process: Self-directed learners (who will leverage technology to check on own's learning progress)
  • End Product: Confidence speakers (as they practise in a safe environment with the computer giving non-bias feedback; and they can work at their own pace)
The Approach

Note: The device used in this context is the iPad

1. Listen to Learn
Listening is an important skill. It's also through listening that we acquire new knowledge.
The new knowledge, in this context, is correct pronunciation of words. 

Technology: "Text-to-Speech" tool to read text/ words
Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech

Activate #1:
When text is selected, a "Speak" button will appear when you select text.
Tap on the "Speak" button - the computer will read the selected text.

Students can listen to how the words are read to learn how to read them.
The text selection works as long as at least one word is selected.

Activate #2:
For the computer to read the entire page, use 2 fingers to swipe down from the top of the screen, the following will appear:

The speed of speech can be adjusted by tapping on the two buttons (shown above).

The above will enable the device to read the text (be it one word or more) clearly to the learner.

2. Speak to Practise

Practising speaking with technology is not new.
  • For instance, we can use Quicktime Player or iMovie, or even just a simple sound recorder to record our reading (voice); then play back to listen. 
  • However, feedback is given only after it's heard by the teacher (who is the 'expert' to correct our pronunciation). In a language class, practice is necessary to get into how a word should be pronounced. After practising many times reading a word in the wrong way, the error becomes a 'habitual' way of saying, which will be difficult to change.
Is there a way that technology can help us to point out the errors - in a simple way that learners can manage themselves, hence promote self-directed learning & self-evaluation?

Technology: Clips

This apps that runs in iOS devices (i.e. iPad, iPhone) provides a simple way to do the job!

It's easy to use - as it offers very few options to enhance the product.
In this way, students will focus on the task rather than spending time to work on the ascetically part.

OK, if we want something to be really professionally done - Clips will not fit the bill.
However, it marries useful features from several apps!

Here are some of them
  • It can 'stitch' images and videos together - though it looked abrupt at the 'cross over'. Well, who cares if ascetic is not the key, but the content
  • It can record video at a press of the button
  • The most important feature: It has the '"live text" feature that translates speech to text which makes it the key reason why Clips is relevant here.
  • Language - we can set it to Singapore English! (I think that's what I liked most)
  • Other feature that is irrelevant to this context but useful is: "screen/ display time" of each image/ video can be 'trimmed' - can be used to lengthen or shorten the duration
With this, students can record and review their own recording - to check for accuracy (which can be done with the "Text-to-Speech" tool (in #1) - which promotes self-review and monitoring of own learning.

3. Converse to Consolidate

Last but not least... practise conversation with Siri

Version 2 of my thoughts... before I complete it with the consolidation stage... 
- my very first masterpiece created using "CLIPS" 

My Experience with CLIPS...
It was a bit of struggle at the start, when I was trying to figure out how to add 'sections' without losing what's created. In addition, also need to take note of the sequence of animation. It took me more than an hour to complete this clip, which, I am now more confident to say that the time taken should be halved. Other than that, the editing is really easy - just need to take note that "trim" does not just limit to "reducing" the length; but also includes extending the duration of display.


We will need to look into Teachers and Students' readiness
  • Teachers - a short introduction on how to use the recording feature would be helpful so that they can demonstrate and guide students who will benefit from this approach - to address pronunciation issue
  • Students - selected students to be given reading materials for practice, and to submit their evidences of learning at the end of each practice - their best piece of work.

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