WO2005076243A1 - Language teaching method - Google Patents

Language teaching method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2005076243A1
WO2005076243A1 PCT/AU2005/000161 AU2005000161W WO2005076243A1 WO 2005076243 A1 WO2005076243 A1 WO 2005076243A1 AU 2005000161 W AU2005000161 W AU 2005000161W WO 2005076243 A1 WO2005076243 A1 WO 2005076243A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
user
users
instructions
language
responses
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2005/000161
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Michael Ian Proctor
Original Assignee
The University Of Queensland
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority claimed from AU2004900582A external-priority patent/AU2004900582A0/en
Application filed by The University Of Queensland filed Critical The University Of Queensland
Priority to BRPI0506632-8A priority Critical patent/BRPI0506632A/en
Priority to JP2006552419A priority patent/JP2007522504A/en
Publication of WO2005076243A1 publication Critical patent/WO2005076243A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B19/00Teaching not covered by other main groups of this subclass
    • G09B19/06Foreign languages
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B7/00Electrically-operated teaching apparatus or devices working with questions and answers
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B7/00Electrically-operated teaching apparatus or devices working with questions and answers
    • G09B7/02Electrically-operated teaching apparatus or devices working with questions and answers of the type wherein the student is expected to construct an answer to the question which is presented or wherein the machine gives an answer to the question presented by a student
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor

Definitions

  • the present invention relates to a method for teaching a language.
  • a method for teaching a foreign language including the steps of: providing language training content to a user of a wireless device by means of a telecommunications network, said content including a prompt for user response; processing the user response with speech recognition software; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the user on the basis of the response.
  • the wireless device is capable of providing concurrent services.
  • the wireless device may comprise a third generation, or more advanced, cellular phone.
  • the method includes the steps of. providing the language training content to a number of users of wireless devices; processing responses from each of the users; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the users indicating their performance relative to each other.
  • the method may include: allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and providing feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group.
  • the method includes the steps of: providing a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and advancing players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises.
  • the language training content includes audio visual content, for example video clips.
  • a software product borne by a computer readable medium for execution by one or more electronic processors, the software product including: instructions to operate a remote wireless device to display language teaching content to a user; instructions for processing a response from the user according to a speech recognition algorithm; and instructions to generate feedback to the user on the basis of the response.
  • the software product further includes: instructions for providing said content to a number of users of the wireless devices; instructions for processing the responses from each of the users; and instructions for transmitting feedback to the users to indicate their relative performance.
  • the software product may further include: instructions for allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; instructions for ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and instructions to provide feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group.
  • the software product includes: instructions to provide a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and instructions to advance players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises.
  • the software product includes instructions to deliver the language training content as audio visual content, for example video clips.
  • Figure 1 is a block diagram of a system used to implement a method according to a first embodiment of the invention.
  • Figure 2 is a flowchart of a method according to the first embodiment of the present invention.
  • Figure 3 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of the invention in use, wherein remote users are grouped according to their language proficiency and receive rankings within their group.
  • Figure 4 is a flowchart of a method according to a second embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 1 there is depicted a block diagram of a system 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
  • the system of Figure 1 is arranged to deliver language training content to a remote user, i.e a language student 7, being an operator of a third generation, or more advanced, mobile phone 2.
  • the system is further arranged to process the student's responses to the content.
  • Mobile phone 2 and communication system 1 are equipped to support "concurrent services". That is, the support the provision of simultaneous high bandwidth data transmission and voice communications.
  • Mobile phone 2 communicates with mobile carrier network 6 via cell antenna
  • the mobile carrier network interfaces with network 8, e.g. the Internet, and in particular provides access to application server 10.
  • the application server executes a software product 19 that typically comprises a magnetic or optically readable disk, or solid state device, bearing instructions for implementing a language teaching method according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • the language teaching method will now be described with reference to Figure 1 and the flowchart of Figure 2.
  • This step typically involves remote user 7 of phone 2 entering a user name and password and then accessing a pre-allocated personal learning space on server 10 by downloading a client-side application to phone 2.
  • server 10 retrieves a user profile from database 17 corresponding to the username entered by user 7.
  • the profile will include information such as the user's native language, age, gender, last time of logging on to the system and preferences for the type of dialog to be received. For example, if user 7 is a Korean native speaker planning to travel to Florida then the profile that is retrieved will reflect that information. Other information, for example the type of subscription to the language training system that the user has paid for will also be in the profile. That information may cause the user to be restricted from, or granted access too, particular language training content.
  • server 10 looks up the proficiency level and record of the last session that student 7 logged in for. The proficiency level and record of the last session will typically be stored in a database 17 supported by application server 10, although it could also be stored in a remote database that is accessed by the application server as required.
  • the Application Server 10 is programmed to store the current skill level of each user to enable progress through a series of graded dialogues in order that proficiency may be achieved.
  • the application server retrieves language training content from database 17 in the form of one or more pre-stored dialogue exercises.
  • the dialogue exercises are typically selected on the basis of the proficiency level, the user's profile and, if desired, the log of the last session.
  • the dialogue exercise is then transmitted to phone 2 which presents the exercise to student 7 with language training content in the form of a menu of content options and downloadable video clips on the display screen of phone 2.
  • the video clips may comprise a number of different language training dialogue scenarios performed by a number of actors. These scenarios typically portray the actors saying certain foreign language phrases and prompt the user to respond by saying one of the phrases into the phone.
  • the dialogue based interaction may include the display of a friendly animated "helper" being a feature that may be attractive to young students in particular.
  • the user's spoken response is converted to a suitable data file format, e.g. a
  • the application server enters a wait loop at box 18 until the student's response is received.
  • the server makes use of a speech recognition and analysis software engine to analyse the user's spoken phrase and, depending on the outcome of that analysis, to score the student's response.
  • the preferred speech recognition and analysis software engine is the open source ISIP system available from the Institute for Signal and Information Processing of Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi 39759, U.S.A.
  • the analysis includes parsing and otherwise processing the student's response to determine how closely it approaches a target response.
  • the processing includes analysing the speech for clarity of pronunciation.
  • the server updates its record of the student's skill level on the basis of the score that was allocated at box 20.
  • the server transmits the score to phone 2 in order to provide feedback to student 7.
  • the feedback will typically be in the form of a score which may be sent back after each response as illustrated, or in a batch after responses to several exercises have been processed. In a variation of the method the user may be able to choose to repeat the exercise and improve the score or instead move on to the next exercise.
  • Decision boxes 25, 26 and 28 are arranged to either terminate the procedure, in the event that the student indicates she no longer wishes to proceed or to loop back to box 14 for the next lesson
  • Application server 10 may also be programmed to enable interaction of the user of phone 2 with other students that are logged into the system.
  • server 10 transmits the same exercise to a number of students at approximately the same level of proficiency. Each of the students' responses is analysed by server 10 and scores sent back as feedback to each student indicating how they performed relative to others in the group.
  • Such an arrangement engenders friendly competition between users of system 1.
  • application server 10 may be programmed to support a multi-player game wherein player's advance through the game on the basis of their responses to language exercises that are presented to them throughout the game-play.
  • An example of a competitive multiplayer embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to Figures 3 and 4. Referring now to Figure 3, application server 10 maintains communication with a number of students 30.
  • the server groups the students according to their proficiency level. For the purposes of explanation, three students are grouped together as indicated by loop 32 of Figure 3.
  • the server dispatches a dialogue exercise to each of the members of the same group. The dialogue exercise is selected to be appropriate to the proficiency level of the corresponding group.
  • the students' responses are scored using the speech analysis engine in the manner that was previously discussed in relation to the embodiment described with reference to Figure 2. Once all the responses have been received and analysed they are then ranked at box 42.
  • a message is transmitted to each member of the group advising them of their relative ranking.
  • application server 10 is programmed so that players compete by stepping into the role of the actors in the video dialogues delivered by phone 2.
  • the players compete by performing the communications in the target language in real-time and have their performances analysed and scored by server 10.
  • the video dialogues delivered by phone 2 may be accompanied by on-screen prompts in the target language to assist the user to proceed successfully through the exercise.
  • 3G advanced telecommunications systems such as WCDMA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DV and similar systems, all of which permit simultaneous data and voice over the same channel.
  • the present invention provides a delivery system for foreign language instruction that can be readily accessed by the student at any time, and from any location in which 3G telecommunication is available.

Abstract

A method for teaching a foreign language includes operating an application server (10) to retrieve language training dialogue exercises from a database (17). The server transmits the dialogue exercises across data network (8), such as the Internet, and telecommunications network (6) to a language student (7) equipped with a third generation cellular phone (2). The dialogue exercises typically include audio visual clips depicting actors saying dialogue that is graded at a level corresponding to the student's proficiency. Responses from student (7) are conveyed back to the application server. The application server executes a software product (19) that includes instructions to analyse and grade the responses with speech recognition software. The student's performance, and any other desired feedback, is then transmitted to the student. In one embodiment of the invention the server is programmed to group remote students according to their proficiency levels. Common dialogue exercises are then transmitted to each student of the group via the telephone network. Responses from the students are then analysed and messages are transmitted back to them advising them of their relative positions in the group.

Description

LANGUAGE TEACHING METHOD
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a method for teaching a language.
BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION The number of people throughout the world, particularly in Asia, that are presently involved in learning a foreign language is on the increase. It is presently estimated that over 100 million Chinese people are in the process of learning English while in Japan there are over 13 million English language students. Learning a foreign language requires regular practice and attendance at teaching sessions if steady progress is to be made towards proficiency. However, for many people life nowadays is more hectic than it has ever been so that it is difficult to find time to attend regular face-to-face language classes or to find time for home study. As a result the progress that is made in learning a foreign language is often less than desired. A further problem associated with face-to-face language teaching is that in order to provide small class sizes the fees which are charged may be prohibitively expensive for many students. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method and system for delivering language lessons that is accessible at times and locations that are convenient to the student and which may be provided at reasonable cost.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for teaching a foreign language including the steps of: providing language training content to a user of a wireless device by means of a telecommunications network, said content including a prompt for user response; processing the user response with speech recognition software; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the user on the basis of the response. Preferably the wireless device is capable of providing concurrent services. For example, the wireless device may comprise a third generation, or more advanced, cellular phone. In one embodiment the method includes the steps of. providing the language training content to a number of users of wireless devices; processing responses from each of the users; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the users indicating their performance relative to each other. In another embodiment the method may include: allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and providing feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group. In a further embodiment the method includes the steps of: providing a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and advancing players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises. Preferably the language training content includes audio visual content, for example video clips. According to a further aspect of the invention there is provided a networked application server programmed to implement the above-described method. According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a software product borne by a computer readable medium for execution by one or more electronic processors, the software product including: instructions to operate a remote wireless device to display language teaching content to a user; instructions for processing a response from the user according to a speech recognition algorithm; and instructions to generate feedback to the user on the basis of the response. Preferably the software product further includes: instructions for providing said content to a number of users of the wireless devices; instructions for processing the responses from each of the users; and instructions for transmitting feedback to the users to indicate their relative performance. The software product may further include: instructions for allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; instructions for ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and instructions to provide feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group. In another embodiment the software product includes: instructions to provide a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and instructions to advance players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises. Preferably the software product includes instructions to deliver the language training content as audio visual content, for example video clips. Further preferred features of the present invention will be described in the following detailed description which will refer to a number of figures as follows.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is a block diagram of a system used to implement a method according to a first embodiment of the invention. Figure 2 is a flowchart of a method according to the first embodiment of the present invention. Figure 3 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of the invention in use, wherein remote users are grouped according to their language proficiency and receive rankings within their group. Figure 4 is a flowchart of a method according to a second embodiment of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
Referring now to Figure 1, there is depicted a block diagram of a system 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The system of Figure 1 is arranged to deliver language training content to a remote user, i.e a language student 7, being an operator of a third generation, or more advanced, mobile phone 2. The system is further arranged to process the student's responses to the content. Mobile phone 2 and communication system 1 are equipped to support "concurrent services". That is, the support the provision of simultaneous high bandwidth data transmission and voice communications. Mobile phone 2 communicates with mobile carrier network 6 via cell antenna
4. The mobile carrier network interfaces with network 8, e.g. the Internet, and in particular provides access to application server 10. The application server executes a software product 19 that typically comprises a magnetic or optically readable disk, or solid state device, bearing instructions for implementing a language teaching method according to an embodiment of the invention. The language teaching method will now be described with reference to Figure 1 and the flowchart of Figure 2. At box 12 of the flowchart communication is established between server 10 and phone 2. This step typically involves remote user 7 of phone 2 entering a user name and password and then accessing a pre-allocated personal learning space on server 10 by downloading a client-side application to phone 2. At box 13 server 10 retrieves a user profile from database 17 corresponding to the username entered by user 7. The profile will include information such as the user's native language, age, gender, last time of logging on to the system and preferences for the type of dialog to be received. For example, if user 7 is a Korean native speaker planning to travel to Florida then the profile that is retrieved will reflect that information. Other information, for example the type of subscription to the language training system that the user has paid for will also be in the profile. That information may cause the user to be restricted from, or granted access too, particular language training content. At box 14 server 10 looks up the proficiency level and record of the last session that student 7 logged in for. The proficiency level and record of the last session will typically be stored in a database 17 supported by application server 10, although it could also be stored in a remote database that is accessed by the application server as required. Server 10 is programmed to store the current skill level of each user to enable progress through a series of graded dialogues in order that proficiency may be achieved. At box 16 the application server retrieves language training content from database 17 in the form of one or more pre-stored dialogue exercises. The dialogue exercises are typically selected on the basis of the proficiency level, the user's profile and, if desired, the log of the last session. The dialogue exercise is then transmitted to phone 2 which presents the exercise to student 7 with language training content in the form of a menu of content options and downloadable video clips on the display screen of phone 2. The video clips may comprise a number of different language training dialogue scenarios performed by a number of actors. These scenarios typically portray the actors saying certain foreign language phrases and prompt the user to respond by saying one of the phrases into the phone. The dialogue based interaction may include the display of a friendly animated "helper" being a feature that may be attractive to young students in particular. The user's spoken response is converted to a suitable data file format, e.g. a
WAV or MP3 file in phone 2 and transmitted back to application server 10 by means of the mobile carrier network 6 and network 8. The application server enters a wait loop at box 18 until the student's response is received. At box 20 the server makes use of a speech recognition and analysis software engine to analyse the user's spoken phrase and, depending on the outcome of that analysis, to score the student's response. The preferred speech recognition and analysis software engine is the open source ISIP system available from the Institute for Signal and Information Processing of Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi 39759, U.S.A. The analysis includes parsing and otherwise processing the student's response to determine how closely it approaches a target response. At the phonological level the processing includes analysing the speech for clarity of pronunciation. At box 22 the server updates its record of the student's skill level on the basis of the score that was allocated at box 20. At box 24 the server transmits the score to phone 2 in order to provide feedback to student 7. The feedback will typically be in the form of a score which may be sent back after each response as illustrated, or in a batch after responses to several exercises have been processed. In a variation of the method the user may be able to choose to repeat the exercise and improve the score or instead move on to the next exercise. Decision boxes 25, 26 and 28 are arranged to either terminate the procedure, in the event that the student indicates she no longer wishes to proceed or to loop back to box 14 for the next lesson Application server 10 may also be programmed to enable interaction of the user of phone 2 with other students that are logged into the system. This may be achieved by taking advantage of third generation, (i.e. "3G"), phone teleconferencing technology. In such an arrangement server 10 transmits the same exercise to a number of students at approximately the same level of proficiency. Each of the students' responses is analysed by server 10 and scores sent back as feedback to each student indicating how they performed relative to others in the group. Such an arrangement engenders friendly competition between users of system 1. In this regard application server 10 may be programmed to support a multi-player game wherein player's advance through the game on the basis of their responses to language exercises that are presented to them throughout the game-play. An example of a competitive multiplayer embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to Figures 3 and 4. Referring now to Figure 3, application server 10 maintains communication with a number of students 30. At box 34 of Figure 4 the server groups the students according to their proficiency level. For the purposes of explanation, three students are grouped together as indicated by loop 32 of Figure 3. At box 36 the server dispatches a dialogue exercise to each of the members of the same group. The dialogue exercise is selected to be appropriate to the proficiency level of the corresponding group. At box 38 the students' responses are scored using the speech analysis engine in the manner that was previously discussed in relation to the embodiment described with reference to Figure 2. Once all the responses have been received and analysed they are then ranked at box 42. At box 44 a message is transmitted to each member of the group advising them of their relative ranking. In a further embodiment of the present invention application server 10 is programmed so that players compete by stepping into the role of the actors in the video dialogues delivered by phone 2. That is, the players compete by performing the communications in the target language in real-time and have their performances analysed and scored by server 10. If desired, the video dialogues delivered by phone 2 may be accompanied by on-screen prompts in the target language to assist the user to proceed successfully through the exercise. It will be realised that the presently described system for language teaching exploits the high level of interactivity provided by 3G advanced telecommunications systems such as WCDMA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DV and similar systems, all of which permit simultaneous data and voice over the same channel. It will be further understood that the present invention provides a delivery system for foreign language instruction that can be readily accessed by the student at any time, and from any location in which 3G telecommunication is available. Consequently a student using a system according to the present invention may make use of time that would otherwise go to waste, for example time spent commuting to work or waiting in a queue. Furthermore, because a large volume of users may subscribe to a foreign language teaching service of the type described, the service may be provided so that the cost to each student is not prohibitive. It will, of course, be realized that the above has been given only by way of illustrative example of the invention and that all such modifications and variations thereto as would be apparent to persons skilled in the art are deemed to fall within the broad scope and ambit of the invention as described herein.

Claims

Claims
1. A method for teaching a foreign language including the steps of: providing language training content to a user of a wireless device by means of a telecommunications network, said content including a prompt for user response; processing the user response with speech recognition software; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the user on the basis of the response.
2. A method according to claim 1, including a step of selecting the language training content to be provided to the user on the basis of one or more of: a record of the user's proficiency; a profile of the user; a record indicating accuracy of previous responses of the user to language training content.
3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the wireless device is capable of providing concurrent services.
4. A method according to claim 3, wherein the wireless device comprises a third generation, or more advanced, cellular phone.
5. A method according to claim 1 , including the steps of: providing the language training content to a number of users of wireless devices; processing responses from each of the users; and using the telecommunications network to provide feedback to the users indicating their performance relative to each other.
6. A method according to claim 1, including: allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and providing feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group.
7. A method according to claim 5, including providing a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and advancing players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises.
8. A method according to claim 1, wherein the language training content includes audio visual content.
9. A method according to claim 8, wherein the audio visual content includes video clips.
10. A software product borne by a computer readable medium for execution by one or more electronic processors, the software product including: instructions to operate a remote wireless device to display language teaching content to a user; instructions for processing a response from the user according to a speech recognition algorithm; and instructions to generate feedback to the user on the basis of the response.
11. A software product according to claim 10, further including instructions to select the language training content to be provided to the user on the basis of one or more of: a record of the user's proficiency; a profile of the user; a record indicating accuracy of previous responses of the user to language training content.
12. A software product according to claim 10, further including: instructions for providing said content to a number of users of the wireless devices; instructions for processing the responses from each of the users; and instructions for transmitting feedback to the users to indicate their relative performance.
13. A software product according to claim 10, further including: instructions for allocating users having a common proficiency level to a common group; instructions for ranking users of the common group according to their responses to the language training content; and instructions to provide feedback to users of the common group indicating relative ranking within said group.
14. A software product according to claim 10, including instructions to provide a multiplayer game to the number of users of the wireless devices; and instructions to advance players through the game on the basis of user responses to language teaching exercises.
15. A software product according to claim 10, including instructions to deliver the language training content as audio visual content.
16. A software product according to claim 15, including instructions to deliver video clips as part of the audio visual content.
17. A networked application server programmed to implement the method of claim 1.
17. A networked application server programmed to implement the method of claim 5.
PCT/AU2005/000161 2004-02-09 2005-02-09 Language teaching method WO2005076243A1 (en)

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BRPI0506632-8A BRPI0506632A (en) 2004-02-09 2005-02-09 language teaching method
JP2006552419A JP2007522504A (en) 2004-02-09 2005-02-09 How to teach language

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AU2004900582 2004-02-09

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