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tool to help elementary school students, computer listening and speaking
devices are helping students to learn how to read and to pronounce words
The computer tutor system relies on a speech recognition system called
Sphinx II, which allows
a computer to hear continuous speech, as contrasted with isolated words.
Sphinx II is used in some classrooms in Pittsburgh, PA, where students
wear headsets with microphones attached and read aloud short stories as
the computer flashes them, sentence by sentence, on its screen.
If the computer hears the student stumble over a word or mispronounce
the word, the computer (which talks as well as listens)
a clue, such as a rhyming word that has a similar spelling.
For example, the computer will suggest and speak a word that is similar,
prompting the student to pronounce the word in question properly.
Development of the Project Listen computer software was conducted at Carnegie
Mellon University, primarily with NSF funding. In a 1996-97 pilot test
at an inner-city elementary school, six third-graders (who
started almost two years below their grade level and used the Reading
Tutor under individual supervision) averaged
two years' progress in under eight months.
And, in a four-month controlled study in spring 1998, children who used
the Reading Tutor gained significantly more in reading comprehension than
classmates who spent the same time in regular activities.