*This is a copy of an article written and published by NextInDigital, a digital technology news platform. Find the original article here.
In 2016, ELSA was launched and has been quite successful so far. ELSA which is the abbreviation for English Language Speech Assistant, is a mobile app which utilizes AI for helping people enhance their pronunciation. So, let us go through details of how this works.
How ELSA is using AI for teaching English?
Using ELSA a user will be able to access various curriculum options according to interests he or she has, like professional settings or travel. After that they are shown a range of vocabulary phrases and words, when you are pronouncing these words and phrases, algorithm of ELSA will be analyzing your speech.
In case, mispronunciations are detected, ELSA tells you how that specific word should sound and also explains the way lips and tongue need to move for forming the right word.
“When you are not able to hear the pronunciation differences yourself, even though listening to any American voice is a positive step, it does not prove to be enough if you are not particularly attentive to languages,” Vu Van (creator of this app) said during an interview. This statement is particularly applicable for people who have a native language that does not include few of the common sounds that we hear in English.
Van and her team have spent a lot of time on feeding speech data in ELSA system and speech therapists have also been consulted so that main problem areas can be identified for people who are trying to learn English in different countries.
“It is not going to be hundred percent accurate at this moment, but it certainly is going to achieve better accuracy when it has more data,” Van said. She also gave a reference of Siri and said that 3-4 years back, Siri was hardly able to understand what was said to Siri but with time it is getting smarter.
The key difference between ELSA and other apps is that curriculum of ELSA will not be including vocabulary memorization or grammar lessons but, will be focusing on intermediate users so that such users can further improve their English skills.
Further improvements have been planned for ELSA which will let a person enter his or her mother tongue since it will help ELSA program tailor user experience according to users needs. In addition to it, the newer version will also have an expanded curriculum.
At present around 40% of ELSA users are from Vietnam but it is also attracting users from other countries and locations as well such as Indonesia, Japan, Middle East, Thailand and Europe.