If you own an iPhone or Android phone, we’re sure you’ve seen voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. These assistants exist thanks to technologies like AI-enabled speech recognition.
Speech recognition has only grown since the inception of these programs. A recent report found that the global speech and voice recognition market is expected to grow from $9.4 billion in 2022 to $28.1 billion in 2027 at an annual growth rate of 24.4%.
Now, even educators are taking advantage of this technology to empower their students. In this article, we will discuss the concept of AI-enabled speech recognition, and how it benefits language learning.
What is AI-enabled speech recognition?
AI-enabled speech recognition, or automatic speech recognition (ASR), converts human speech to written text.
It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), an AI algorithm, to create models that can interpret and recognize human speech—irrespective of who’s speaking. That means it can understand patterns, tone, and context to identify what you’re saying accurately.
Here are a few core aspects of this technology from a language-learning perspective:
- Improves with time as it regularly learns from your input
- Accurately identifies speech irrespective of dialect and accent
- Classifies speakers based on voice and tone
- Understands the sentiment of a conversation
- Provides an output that’s easy to read and understand
The idea is to help learners learn faster using a real-time feedback system built on multiple language inputs.
Challenges of language learning without speech practice
Fear of speaking in a new language
Learning a new language – especially one that’s not your mother tongue – can be intimidating.
A 2021 study found that learners with this fear reduce their engagement. This is due to a fear of a classroom atmosphere that is too focused on mistakes rather than learning. They also fear being judged and criticized.
This fear leads to avoidance and procrastination—leading to higher failure rates. It indicates the need for more conducive learning sessions and a positive atmosphere.
Lack of practice or learning opportunities
“Practice makes perfect.”
We’ve heard this far too often, but when it comes to language learning, your students likely need more opportunities to do so.
Most of the time, they’re only actively practicing during the language class. It means that they don’t adopt the language as fast as they can, resulting in a feeling of failure and demotivation.
Plus, learners might not always have access to native or fluent speakers. For instance, if we have to achieve universal basic education by 2030, we need to employ 24.4 million teachers in primary education and 44.4 million teachers in secondary education. It indicates that we’re in the middle of a global teachers shortage—which also impacts the language learning process. There’s a lack of teachers available and student cohorts are only increasing in size.
With limited opportunities to practice and learn, they can’t master the language fast enough. This is where voice technology apps can help.
Lack of motivation while learning
Since the process can be challenging, many language learners lose motivation. This usually happens when they’re not making enough progress, don’t have the right resources, or are doing it for too long.
It also happens when the learning process is one-way and not interactive. A 2020 study found that gamification increases a learner’s motivation to learn a language—indicating a need to disrupt the current learning process.
Benefits of using speech-to-text technology in the classroom
Improve word enunciation in a shorter period
ELSA Speak uses AI voice technology so that students can practice their pronunciation and speaking through various exercises. It can help pinpoint exact mistakes, such as what sounds need improving, as well as generate suggestions to improve.
This type of learning encourages real-time feedback and allows learners to correct their diction while learning—instead of waiting for someone else to fix them. It also gives them real-world learning experiences and reduces their fear of learning.
ELSA Speak shows you where you’re falling short and encourages you to improve that part
Improves accessibility in the classroom
Previously, the language learning process was not accessible as disabled students couldn’t access these resources. Speech feedback in the classroom prevents this issue.
ELSA Speak offers options to listen to the text at a normal or slow pace and even listen to your input again. In addition, you can also read the phonetic expression of the word/phrase—improving pronunciation.
This removes barriers for disabled students, helping them learn another language quickly.
An example of how ELSA Speak offers accessibility options [Red: Hearing and reading options; Pink: Speak to the app or listen to your input]
Improves class preparation with a handy point of reference
Educators spend too much time preparing for classes and conducting repetitive sessions for the same lesson. But with ELSA’s speech feedback system, they can avoid that.
ELSA provides an excellent reference point for students, giving them a handy conversational guide that fits in their pockets. On the other hand, they can practice whenever they want—eliminating the need for repeat sessions in the classroom.
Easier to monitor progress and understand shortcomings
Educators and students alike tend to have a lot on their plates. It makes monitoring progress difficult as neither of them has a reference point to find areas for improvement.
Using AI in the classroom can fix that. For example, ELSA compiles a comprehensive and accurate report showing progress and areas for improvement. This eliminates the manual collection and review process, giving you more time to help students.
Plus, educators can focus on providing one-on-one attention with personalized reports for each learner—improving the efficacy of your program. Ultimately, everybody benefits from such apps.
Access a comprehensive dashboard that hosts the progress reports for each student in one place
Use cases of speech technology in education & language learning
Pronunciation and literacy assessments
Educators can use AI speech recognition apps like ELSA to identify and assess areas of difficulty for each student. This can include aspects such as:
- Word stress
These AI-powered assessments also provide granular data points that allow teachers to tailor interventions to each student’s needs better.
Helping students improve language comprehension
With AI-enabled speech recognition, students can set the foundation for their comprehension abilities. This technology can help them practice their lessons by encouraging them to read aloud to improve their pronunciation and ability to understand the words.
Our internal study found that when a student reads out aloud, they can improve their retention by 30%. It also helps learners improve their pronunciation by 90% and clarity of speech by 68% in three months. So, regularly practicing the language by reading aloud improves their capability in the target language and takes them one step closer to reading and writing well.
Video subtitling and captioning
When it comes to accessibility, speech-to-text technology in the classroom can be an excellent option for creating video captions/subtitles.
As these tools use NLP techniques to generate text, you can use that to sync it with the video content. It creates an interactive and inclusive learning environment—increasing learner engagement.
Harness the power of speech-to-text technology for language learning
AI-enabled speech recognition is a powerful tool with massive potential to improve the language learning process. It enables educators to provide students with real-time feedback, leading to improved fluency and accuracy.
With the ability to teach, monitor, and evaluate language learning in an interactive way, you can transform the learning experience through efficient and personalized instruction.
Ready to get started with interactive and conversational learning? Learn more about ELSA’s Language Solution for schools.