A pronunciation and vocabulary teaching aid for Spanish as a Foreign Language programs at Japanese universities utilizing a Spanish speech recognition system and corpora of academic Spanish

Yasushige Ishikawa, Reiko Tateiwa, Kazuaki Goto, Ichiro Akano

Abstract

This paper reports on a project which researchers at two universities in Japan developed for Spanish as a Foreign Language CALL materials, which has two features, a Spanish speech recognition system based on the AmiVoice Japanese speech recognition system; and a Spanish verb collocation-based vocabulary teaching aid based on a corpus of academic Spanish. The first step was the creation of a Spanish speech recognition system for Japanese university students based on the AmiVoice Japanese pronunciation recognition system developed by Advanced Media Incorporated. The second step was the selection of vocabulary for a specific genre of academic Spanish, which was done in the following way: (1) Articles in a Spanish-language academic journal on Spanish Literature, Culture, History, and Language (themes typically chosen by students for graduation theses) compiled and published annually in Japan were used as the source of data for the compilation of a corpus. (2) All the verbs were extracted from the data. (3) The extracted verbs were compared with a corpus of verbs from graduation theses written in Japanese by Japanese university students and (4) by taking into account their needs for learning verbs, a list of verb-centered collocations was compiled. Finally, we developed a user-friendly Spanish pronunciation and verb collocation-based vocabulary teaching aid. The aid displays the verb collocations on a computer screen during pronunciation training. The training had two phases. The first phase required Japanese university students to carefully and repeatedly listen to model pronunciation examples of the vocabulary items, and to pronounce the vocabulary. This pronunciation training is intended to contribute to effective memorizing of the verb collocations. The next phase required the students to repeat the vocabulary items at the rate of the model utterance as well as to imitate the stress and other intonation features. This training is expected to help Japanese students speak Spanish more fluently.


Keywords

ICALL teaching materials; speech recognition systems; academic vocabulary corpus; pronunciation training; verb collocation

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