June 29, 2012
Learning English with IVR Technology
Last September, the U.S. Army ended their contract with Rosetta Stone. It’s not that the army doesn’t encourage education for their troops, but they found that there was a more pragmatic purpose for fitting IVR technology into their budget. In May, the Army opened a contract with Voci Technologies, Inc., for a prototype system that translates up to six different languages into English in real time. Soldiers can still get Rosetta Stone for a discount; however, the executive decision was that the battlefield is not an appropriate classroom setting. Now, educators are evaluating how IVR technology is a proficient language-learning tool.
In a post by Plum Voice entitled, “IVR Deconstructed,” Professor Howard Hao-Jan Chen is named as a leading educator invested in researching how IVR systems are ideal for developing oral skills. Chen evaluated the experiences of students and English teachers and reached the conclusion that IVR technology integrated into an online site is the ideal combination for successfully developing English language skills.
Education software is not often permitted off campus, but Chen has identified private environments as yielding better results when it comes to practicing speech. Students are more apt to learn in private settings, where their speaking attempts are not inhibited by their fear of being judged.
Standard language learning websites only allow students the opportunity to read and write, but an important factor in learning any language is learning to speak it proficiently. That is why it is necessary for there to be speech recognition tools incorporated into online teaching programs. This system of combining IVR technology with online accessibility has also proven cost effective.
Many people agree that learning English is necessary in order to succeed in today’s global economy. In Brazil, people of modest means use mobile apps to learn English, despite living in a country with the one of the highest taxes in the industry. Many of these apps are based on a standardized texting service, hardly an efficient means of learning. However, some Brazilians see this alternative as the only one they can afford.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo