NetProf iOS pronunciation feedback demonstration
One of the greatest challenges for an adult learning a new language is gaining the ability to distinguish and produce foreign sounds. The US Government trains 3,600 enlisted soldiers a year at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) in languages critical to national security, most of which are not widely studied in the U.S. Many students struggle to attain speaking fluency and proper pronunciation. Teaching pronunciation is a time-intensive task for teachers that requires them to give individual feedback to students during classroom hours. This limits the time teachers can spend imparting other information, and students may feel embarrassed or inhibited when they practice with their classmates. Given the demand for students educated in foreign languages and the limited number of qualified teachers in languages of interest, there is a growing need for computer-based tools students can use to practice and receive feedback at their own pace and schedule. Most existing tools are limited to listening to pre-recorded audio with limited or nonexistent support for pronunciation feedback. MIT Lincoln Laboratory has developed a new tool, Net Pronunciation Feedback (NetProF), to address these challenges and improve student pronunciation and general language fluency.