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  • 1.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Computer support for learners of spoken English2005Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis concerns the use of speech technology to support the process of learning the English language. It applies theories of computer-assisted language learning and second language acquisition to address the needs of beginning, intermediate and advanced students of English for specific purposes.

    The thesis includes an evaluation of speech-recognition-based pronunciation software, based on a controlled study of a group of immigrant engineers. The study finds that while the weaker students may have benefited from their software practice, the pronun¬ciation ability of the better students did not improve.

    The linguistic needs of advanced and intermediate Swedish-native students of English are addressed in a study using multimodal speech synthesis in an interactive exercise demonstrating differences in the placement of lexical stress in two Swedish-English cognates. A speech database consisting of 28 ten-minute oral presentations made by these learners is described, and an analysis of pronunciation errors is pre¬sented. Eighteen of the presentations are further analyzed with regard to the normalized standard deviation of fundamental frequency over 10-second long samples of speech, termed pitch variation quotient (PVQ). The PVQ is found to range from 6% to 34% in samples of speech, with mean levels of PVQ per presentation ranging from 11% to 24%. Males are found to use more pitch variation than females. Females who are more proficient in English use more pitch variation than the less profi¬cient females. A perceptual experiment tests the relationship between PVQ and impressions of speaker liveliness. An overall correlation of .83 is found. Temporal variables in the presentation speech are also studied.

    A bilingual database where five speakers make the same presentation in both English and Swedish is studied to examine effects of using a second language on presentation prosody. Little intra-speaker difference in pitch variation is found, but these speakers speak on average 20% faster when using their native language. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how the results could be applied in a proposed feedback mechanism for practicing and assessing oral presentations, concept¬ualized as a ‘speech checker.’ Potential users of the system would include native as well as non-native speakers of English.

  • 2.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Measures and perceptions of liveliness in student presentation speech: A proposal for an automatic feedback mechanism2005In: Systeme, ISSN 1022-9280, Vol. 33, no 4, p. 575-591Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper analyzes prosodic variables in a corpus of eighteen oral presentations made by students of Technical English, all of whom were native speakers of Swedish. The focus is on the extent to which speakers were able to use their voices in a lively manner, and the hypothesis tested is that speakers who had high pitch variation as they spoke would be perceived as livelier speakers. A metric (termed PVQ), derived from the standard deviation in fundamental frequency, is proposed as a measure of pitch variation. Composite listener ratings of liveliness for nine 10-s samples of speech per speaker correlate strongly (r = .83, n = 18, p < .01) with the PVQ metric. Liveliness ratings for individual 10-s samples of speech show moderate but significant (n = 81, p < .01) correlations: r = .70 for males and r = .64 for females. The paper also investigates rate of speech and fluency variables in this corpus of L2 English. An application for this research is in presentation skills training, where computer feedback could be provided for speaking rate and the extent to which speakers have been able to use their voices in an engaging manner.

  • 3.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Measuring liveliness in presentation speech2005In: Proceedings of Interspeech 2005, Lisbon, 2005, p. 765-768Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper proposes that speech analysis be used to quantifyprosodic variables in presentation speech, and reports theresults of a perception test of speaker liveliness. The test materialwas taken from a corpus of oral presentations made by18 Swedish native students of Technical English. Livelinessratings from a panel of eight judges correlated strongly withnormalized standard deviation of F0 and, for female speakers,with mean length of runs, which is the number of syllablesbetween pauses of >250 ms. An application of these findingswould be in the development of a feedback mechanism for theprosody of public speaking.

  • 4.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Presenting in English and Swedish2005In: Proceedings of Fonetik 2005, Göteborg, 2005, p. 45-48Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper reports on a comparison of prosodicvariables from oral presentations in a first andsecond language. Five Swedish natives whospeak English at the advanced-intermediatelevel were recorded as they made the samepresentation twice, once in English and once inSwedish. Though it was expected that speakerswould use more pitch variation when theyspoke Swedish, three of the five speakersshowed no significant difference between thetwo languages. All speakers spoke more quicklyin Swedish, the mean being 20% faster.

  • 5.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Presenting in English or Swedish: Differences in speaking rate2008In: Proceedings of Fonetik 2008 / [ed] Eriksson, A.; Lindh, J., Gothenburg: Gothenburg University Department of Linguistics, 2008, p. 21-24Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper attempts to quantify differences in speaking rates in first and second languages, in the context of the growth of English as a lingua franca, where more L2 speakers than ever be-fore are using English to perform tasks in their working environments. One such task is the oral presentation. The subjects in this study were fourteen fluent English second language speakers who held the same oral presentation twice, once in English and once in their native Swedish. The temporal variables of phrase length (mean length of runs in syllables) and speaking rate in syllables per second were cal-culated for each language. Speaking rate was found to be 23% slower when using the second language, and phrase length was found to be 24% shorter.

  • 6.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Processing the prosody of oral presentations2004In: Proc InSTIL/ICALL2004 NLP and Speech Technologies in Advanced Language Learning / [ed] Delmonte, R.; Delcloque, P.; Tonellli, S., Venice, Italy, 2004, p. 63-66Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Standard advice to people preparing to speak in public is to use a “lively” voice. A lively voice is described as one that varies in intonation, rhythm and loudness: qualities that can be analyzed using speech analysis software. This paper reports on a study analyzing pitch variation as a measure of speaker liveliness. A potential application of this approach for analysis would be for rehearsing or assessing the prosody of oral presentations. While public speaking can be intimidating even to native speakers, second language users are especially challenged, particularly when it comes to using their voices in a prosodically engaging manner.The material is a database of audio recordings of twenty 10-minute student oral presentations, where all speakers were college-age Swedes studying Technical English. The speech has been processed using the analysis software WaveSurfer for pitch extraction. Speaker liveliness has been measured as the standard deviation from the mean fundamental frequency over 10-second periods of speech. The standard deviations have been normal¬ized (by division with the mean frequency) to obtain a value termed the pitch dynamism quotient (PDQ). Mean values (for ten minutes of speech) of PDQ per speaker range from a low of 0.11 to a high of 0.235. Individual values for 10-second segments range from lows of 0.06 to highs of 0.36.

  • 7.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning, Language and communication.
    Pronouncing the Academic Word List: Features of L2 Student Presentations2003In: Proceedings International Congress of Phonetic Science 2003, Barcelona, 2003, p. 1545-1548Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper is an analysis of lexical choices, pronunciation errors, and discourse features found in a corpus of student presentation speech. The speakers were Swedish natives studying Technical English. Particular emphasis is given to the pronunciation of the words most often used in academic texts. 93% of words used in the corpus came from the most frequent 2570 lexemes of academic written English, 99% of all words were acceptably pronounced, disfluencies occurred at relatively stable inter-student rates, and 30% of all new sentences began with the conjunction ‘and’.

  • 8.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication.
    Speaking rate and information content in English lingua franca oral presentations2010In: English for specific purposes (New York, N.Y.), ISSN 0889-4906, E-ISSN 1873-1937, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 4-18Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper quantifies differences in speaking rates in a first and second language, and examines the effects of slower rates on the speakers' abilities to convey information. The participants were 14 fluent (CEF B2/C1) English L2 speakers who held the same oral presentation twice, once in English and once in their native Swedish. The temporal variables of mean length of runs and speaking rate in syllables per second were calculated for each language. Speaking rate was found to be 23% slower when using English. The slower rate of speech was found to significantly reduce the information content of the presentations when speaking time was held constant. Implications for teaching as European universities adopt English as a medium of instruction are discussed.

  • 9.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning, Language and communication.
    Speech technologies for pronunciation feedback and evaluation2003In: ReCALL, ISSN 0958-3440, E-ISSN 1474-0109, ISSN ISSN 0958-3440, Vol. 15, no 1, p. 3-20Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Educators and researchers in the acquisition of L2 phonology have called for empirical assessment of the progress students make after using new methods for learning (Chun, 1998, Morley, 1991). The present study investigated whether unlimited access to a speech-recognition-based language-learning program would improve the general standard of pronunciation of a group of middle-aged immigrant professionals studying English in Sweden. Eleven students were given a copy of the program Talk to Me from Auralog as a supplement to a 200-hour course in Technical English, and were encouraged to practise on their home computers. Their development in spoken English was compared with a control group of fifteen students who did not use the program. The program is evaluated in this paper according to Chapelle’s (2001) six criteria for CALL assessment. Since objective human ratings of pronunciation are costly and can be unreliable, our students were pre- and post-tested with the automatic PhonePass SET-10 test from Ordinate Corp. Results indicate that practice with the program was beneficial to those students who began the course with a strong foreign accent but was of limited value for students who began the course with better pronunciation. The paper begins with an overview of the state of the art of using speech recognition in L2 applications.

  • 10.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Standard deviation of F0 in student monologue2004In: Proc of The XVIIth Swedish Phonetics Conference, Fonetik 2004, Stockholm University, 2004, p. 132-135Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Twenty ten-minute oral presentations made by Swedish students speaking English have been analyzed with respect to the standard deviation of F0 over long stretches of speech. Values have been normalized by division with the mean. Results show a strong correlation between pro-ficiency in English and pitch variation for male speakers but not for females. The results also identify monotone and disfluent speakers.

  • 11.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Department for Library services, Language and ARC, Language and communication.
    Suprasegmentals: Stress2013In: The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics / [ed] Chapelle, C., Wiley Blackwell , 2013Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Stress is a feature of pronunciation in which a syllable is given more emphasis than surrounding syllables.

  • 12.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning, Language and communication.
    Technology and Learning Pronunciation2015In: Handbook of English Pronunciation / [ed] M. Reed and J. Levis, John Wiley & Sons, 2015, p. 501-515Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 13.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Department for Library services, Language and ARC, Language and communication.
    Technology and Phonetics2013In: The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics / [ed] Chapelle, C., Wiley Blackwell , 2013Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Sound cannot be studied methodically unless it can be captured in some way, and so from the phonograph to the tape recorder to the computer, the development of new technologies has facilitated the study of phonetics. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine studying phonetics without technology. Other entries in this encyclopedia discuss the topics of acoustic phonetics, speech analysis software, automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, and computer-assisted pronunciation teaching. This entry will thus simply provide an overview of the position of technology in phonetics.

  • 14.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication.
    Edlund, Jens
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH. KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, Centre for Speech Technology, CTT.
    PROMOTING INCREASED PITCH VARIATION IN ORAL PRESENTATIONS WITH TRANSIENT VISUAL FEEDBACK2009In: Language Learning & Technology, ISSN 1094-3501, E-ISSN 1094-3501, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 32-50Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper investigates learner response to a novel kind of intonation feedback generated from speech analysis. Instead of displays of pitch curves, our feedback is flashing lights that show how much pitch variation the speaker has produced. The variable used to generate the feedback is the standard deviation of fundamental frequency as measured in semitones. Flat speech causes the system to show yellow lights, while more expressive speech that has used pitch to give focus to any part of an utterance generates green lights. Participants in the study were 14 Chinese students of English at intermediate and advanced levels. A group that received visual feedback was compared with a group that received audio feedback. Pitch variation was measured at four stages: in a baseline oral presentation; for the first and second halves of three hours of training; and finally in the production of a new oral presentation. Both groups increased their pitch variation with training, and the effect lasted after the training had ended. The test group showed a significantly higher increase than the control group, indicating that the feedback is effective. These positive results imply that the feedback could be beneficially used in a system for practicing oral presentations.

  • 15.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication (closed 2011-01-01).
    Edlund, Jens
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Speech Communication and Technology.
    Transient visual feedback on pitch variation for Chinese speakers of English2009In: Proc. of Fonetik 2009, Stockholm, 2009Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper reports on an experimental study comparing two groups of seven Chinese students of English who practiced oral presentations with computer feedback. Both groups imitated teacher models and could listen to recordings of their own production. The test group was also shown flashing lights that responded to the standard deviation of the fundamental frequency over the previous two seconds. The speech of the test group increased significantly more in pitch variation than the control group. These positive results suggest that this novel type of feedback could be used in training systems for speakers who have a tendency to speak in a monotone when making oral presentations.

  • 16.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication.
    Edlund, Jens
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Speech Communication and Technology.
    Using speech technology to promote increased pitch variation in oral presentations2009In: Proc. of SLaTE Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education, Wroxall, UK, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper reports on an experimental study comparing two groups of seven Chinese students of English who practiced oral presentations with computer feedback. Both groups imitated teacher models and could listen to recordings of their own production. The test group was also shown flashing lights that responded to the standard deviation of the fundamental frequency over the previous two seconds. The speech of the test group increased significantly more in pitch variation than the control group. These positive results suggest that this novel type of feedback could be used in training systems for speakers who have a tendency to speak in a monotone when making oral presentations.

  • 17.
    Wik, Preben
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Speech Communication and Technology. KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, Centre for Speech Technology, CTT.
    Hincks, Rebecca
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Language and Communication.
    Hirschberg, Julia
    Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, USA.
    Responses to Ville: A virtual language teacher for Swedish2009In: Proc. of SLaTE Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education, Wroxall, England, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A series of novel capabilities have been designed to extend the repertoire of Ville, a virtual language teacher for Swedish, created at the Centre for Speech technology at KTH. These capabilities were tested by twenty-seven language students at KTH. This paper reports on qualitative surveys and quantitative performance from these sessions which suggest some general lessons for automated language training.

1 - 17 of 17
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