STiLL - Speech Technology in Language Learning

May 25-27, 1998
Marholmen, Sweden

International Foreign Accent: Speech Technology and Foreign Language Teaching

Matthias Jilka, Gregor Möhler

Department of Natural Language Processing, University of Stuttgart, Germany

This study aims to examine the contribution of intonation to the perception of foreign accent. The acoustic characteristics responsible for intonational foreign accent are identified as distinct deviations in the Fo patterns produced by American L2 speakers of German. As a reference the typical intonation patterns of both German and American English are described by a prescriptive intonational grammar allowing the rule-based generation and later resynthesis of the Fo contours. Fo generation is used to determine the relevance of the measured deviations. Since the composition of tonal events in a stimulus can be adjusted, various versions of it can be produced, and then be evaluated by the hearer. The generation of an improved, native-like contour is taken as confirmation that the observed deviation was indeed responsible for the perceived foreign accent. First results show that most relevant deviations involve major parameters such as pitch accents and phrasing. The described use of speech technology thus facilitates the identification of intonational mistakes and their correction.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Jilka, Matthias / Möhler, Gregor (1998): "International foreign accent: speech technology and foreign language teaching", In STiLL-1998, 115-118.