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Department of Linguistics


Phonetic and Phonological Teaching/Learning Resources

Project Title: Phonetic and Phonological Teaching and Learning Resources for Phonetics, Speech Pathology, Applied Linguistics and Speech Technology

Investigators: Robert Mannell, Felicity Cox, Elizabeth Armstrong, Sallyanne Palethorpe, Jan Tent, John Knox, Michael Carey

Funding Source: Macquarie University - "Flagship Grant"

The aim of this project is to collect and develop resources for the teaching of phonetics and phonology to students in speech science, speech and language technology, phonetics and phonology, speech and language pathology and applied linguistics.

The goal is to collect video and audio recordings of speech that illustrate the pronunciation of several dialects of English and some other languages. We will also collect recordings of children’s speech, the speech of people with disordered phonology or articulation, the speech of people with hearing loss and the English speech of second language learners of English. These materials will provide essential resources for the teaching of phonetic and phonemic transcription as well as the teaching of pronunciation issues across the disciplines covered by this project.

We then transcribe (both phonetically and phonemically) all of this speech material so that it can be used in the teaching of a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. A particular challenge is to decide upon appropriate phonemic and phonetic transcription systems for each of the L1-L2 interlanguages.

In parallel to this process is the development of on-line transcription, editing and teaching software. This software will permit the editing and on-line submission of phonetic transcription assessment and will also facilitate computer assisted learning of phonetic transcription and pronunciation. It is also our intention to build into this software pedagogic feedback (based on a mixture of phonetic and phonological features) during training sessions as well as automation of the marking of submitted transcriptions. This software (which is written in C++, with some modules in Python) will be cross-platform and will utilise XML and Unicode technology as well as cross-platform graphical user interface development tools (we have chosen wxWidgets for this task).

The final stage of this project will be the pedagogic evaluation of the training procedures and particularly of the competing feedback strategies.

Project Status

We have processed a very large body of existing audio material, have converted it into digital format and have provided transcriptions for this material where is was missing. We have video recorded a number of subjects, including Australian English, S.E. British English, Scottish (Edinburgh) English, South African English, Canadian English, Singaporean English, Indian English, Cantonese L2 English speaker, Korean L2 English speaker. These recordings have been edited and compressed and are currently being transcribed. The transcription process has initially been slow as we have developed strategies for dealing with diverse dialects and L1 backgrounds, but the rate of progress should accelerate significantly now that we have had experience dealing with the first few subjects.

The software development is progressing. A prototype unicode based transcription system has been developed and when this is completed it will be integrated into the planned test submission and learning software..