UBC Creates Cool Tech to Help Preserve Languages

It’s not wearable tech, per say, but it’s pretty darn cool technology. I struggle with learning other languages and I know I’m not alone in that. From butchering my way through pronouncing french words, in my beginners French course, to butchering my own mother tongue of Amharic (sorry grandma). I have many friends who also struggle picking up a language either their own or one they want to learn just because.

Pronunciation is what holds a lot of people back from mastering a second language, especially if it’s far off from your first one. In my own language there are specific clicks of the tongue that make it quite difficult for native english learners to learn it.

But thankfully we live in a world that is constantly advancing and one up-ing itself in the technological world. Researchers at the University of British Columbia wanted to make learning a new language less daunting and so they created eNunicate. Enunciate “is an innovative program that blends the best of linguistics and language teaching with ultrasound imaging.”

People hoping to learn a new language will be able to see how their tongues should be moving with the specific sound by using the device. The researchers layered audio recordings with ultrasound technology as a way to get inside a native language speaker’s head. There is also a visualizer component to the device.The videos take an ultrasound image of a speaker’s tongue and overlay them on a profile of the speaker’s face. This will be able to help visualize the place of articulation for certain sounds. Learners can record their voices and compare them to that of a model speaker both visually and aurally.  

Not only will this be a great educational tool but also a great tool to preserving languages that are close to going extinct. Perhaps the next step will be to combine this tech with wearable technology. Perhaps with a piece of tech that informs you when you get the pronunciation right.

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