Foreign accent conversion in computer assisted pronunciation training.
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Learners of a second language practice their pronunciation by listening to and imitating utterances from native speakers. Recent research has shown that choosing a well-matched native speaker to imitate can have a positive impact on pronunciation training. Here we propose a voice-transformation technique that can be used to generate the (arguably) ideal voice to imitate: the own voice of the learner with a native accent. Our work extends previous research, which suggests that providing learners with prosodically corrected versions of their utterances can be a suitable form of feedback in computer assisted pronunciation training. Our technique provides a conversion of both prosodic and segmental characteristics by means of a pitch-synchronous decomposition of speech into glottal excitation and spectral envelope. We apply the technique to a corpus containing parallel recordings of foreign-accented and native-accented utterances, and validate the resulting accent conversions through a series of perceptual experiments. Our results indicate that the technique can reduce foreign accentedness without significantly altering the voice quality properties of the foreign speaker. Finally, we propose a pedagogical strategy for integrating accent conversion as a form of behavioral shaping in computer assisted pronunciation training.
author list (cited authors)
Felps, D., Bortfeld, H., & Gutierrez-Osuna, R.
complete list of authors
Felps, Daniel||Bortfeld, Heather||Gutierrez-Osuna, Ricardo